Dear Reader: The truth is never an absolute; it is subjective and it changes over time. So I do not claim that any of what I write is the truth. It is only my perception and recollection of events as they happened many years ago. In some situations I have changed names and details to protect the privacy of people involved, but I do my best to maintain the underlying substance of events and their impact on me.
NOTE: I will never write about upsetting details without a warning.
As 2005 nears an end and I approach my 40th birthday, I find myself ready to take the next big step in my life – becoming a park ranger. While this was the single biggest focus of my efforts this past year, my path was far more convoluted than I anticipated, and the end result looks far different than the picture I’d created in my mind…
After being passed over for the ranger opening at Cape Disappointment I struggled with feelings that I’d wasted my time and efforts over the past year. But the manager at Dosewallips State Park noticed and appreciated my determination and persistence at Cape D., and these things led to their job offer. He has consistently given me the positive feedback and acknowledgement that I longed for at Cape D.
It feels like the right time to leave the Lower Columbia. I will miss the ocean, the discoveries about the infinite patterns that sand can hold, created by combinations of wind, water, insects, and pieces of dried dune grasses and other vegetation. One of my favorites was endless terraces and plateaus, all in miniature, all geometrically designed with straight edges. I will miss seeing my dog chase after foam churned up after a hard storm, skittering across the sand; or excitedly digging after a rogue scent of stinking crustacean flesh.
I am truly grateful for the friendships I found both in Astoria and on the Peninsula. I will be sad to leave them, and the many other people who touched my life. During this past year I relied heavily on my old friends Paul & Lilly for emotional support and their more objective perspective on my struggles. They have known me long enough, and been through enough with me to be well acquainted with my failings. My interactions with my mom have transformed into much deeper sharing. She too gave me tons of support and counsel.
But I look forward to settling into my new home, sandwiched between the Olympic National Forest and the Hood Canal. And since my daily commute consists of stepping out my front door, I will surely be ready to drive for a mere hour on my weekends to explore any number of cultural Meccas including Port Townsend and Olympia.
Major discovery: turning 40 has no limits, but only more interesting opportunities. I have much to celebrate, and much to be grateful for.
This Saturday the 14th will be my last night here on the Long Beach Peninsula. For the past week I’ve had a bad cold with fever that has all but kept me from packing and otherwise preparing to move my life. What it has allowed is time to ponder, and for ideas to bubble up to the surface. One is the desire to somehow mark this transition that is upon me.
This time of particular transience and impermanence is over. I am grateful for the friends and family who’ve stood by me, and the new friends I’ve made, and for the many opportunities I’ve been given. And I grieve for the hopes that did not come to fruition, of which I’m ready to let go. I have achieved the goals I have worked so hard for during this vision quest. I am ready for the next chapter in my life, and I walk towards it with excitement and anticipation.
Between the two I stand – my Past and my Future. Being sick has forced me to go inward, even keeping silent for several days when my voice completely left me, and keeping to myself. As my mom said, this is my “still point,” a time of inactivity between ebb and flow, between past and future, a time of making ready before the transition.
Because of my transience (and my good fortune of having special friends all over the world), it is not possible for me to gather together the people I would most want to celebrate with. So instead, on my last night at the ocean I will have a solo ritual to help integrate all that has transpired, and all that is to come. I will light a candle, ponder the many lessons I’ve learned during the past two years, and call on the strengths that will serve me in the challenges to come. In this way I will honor the significance of the crossing that I’m about to make.
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