I have slept for a few hours and am now awake again. I am sleepless and need to examine my thoughts on virtual paper…
I have been preparing for my return to Paros for two weeks. This time it will be for an extended stay, not the three-months-on-three-months off that I have been experiencing for the past two years. To that end I have been divesting myself of my unneeded possessions, mostly books and musical equipment. I have given them away, with no misgivings. I have kept one guitar, a Fender Telecaster I bought in 1986. It is a candy-apple red 1962 re-issue and holds too much sentimental value to discard. The books are a mix of volumes never read, read too often and those whose message I have outgrown. Clothing has been gathered and that, too, will be given away. The monumental task of collating and burning the set of my 1200 CD collection has been accomplished and my laptop is now full of the best I have collected since the late 1980s, when CDs were first released. It is also a mix: classical, jazz, old rock, new rock…the list seems endless but of course is not. These will go to the local library in Hillsdale. I have packaged up four large boxes of goods to send ahead and will mail them tomorrow. One more box remains because I still have some darkroom work to take care of. This box will contain last minute odds and ends, some clothes, a few books and some more darkroom gear that I still need to process film. I cannot send any liquids, however, which means that my developers stay here in the US. I can purchase replacements in Athens. I have decided to take one extra checked bag with me this time instead of my usual backpack/camera bag combo. This will allow a few more items than I have usually taken with me.
It really feels like I am leaving, which I am, but this has been coming for a long time. I moved back to the Hudson Valley in 2004 for personal and family reasons and in many ways my job here is done. It is time to go. What I need to do for my family I can accomplish easily via email and telephone and I proved that last year when I adjusted insurance payments over the phone from the island after being alerted of a payment glitch via my Gee mail account. The modern world has its benefits but I am looking forward to the upcoming year, a year of photography, writing and painting. Will I begin and finish my book? Only Kronos knows and that giant sleeps too deeply to wake for the answer. The future, like always, is unknown, but this time it really feels as if I am departing for the next phase of my life. I have been a professional chef and an unknown rock musician, a composer of hook-laden pop tunes. These paths led to a certain point where I then abandoned them like a sailor diving into the ocean lest he go down with the ship. The lifeboat that found me has proved to be more than a rescue craft. Its design for living has been impressed upon me and I have followed it, despite my fears. These have turned out to be echoing voices from my distant past. Unfortunately I have listened to these voices too much, but to quote a line from an old Chinese morality tale, “How do I know?” Indeed, how do I not know that it was necessary for me to begin this new life now, on the eve of my 47th birthday, after enduring all that I have in the past? This is how it is, I think. There is always the illusionary choice of a straight line, filled with drudgery and boredom. I was on that track. As one of my sisters commented, living is not a straight line. There is no simple way to get from A to B. Perhaps there is no ‘A’ or ‘B’ at all. The life ahead is not a known set of coordinates on a chart. Each of us has his or her own map to design. Only hindsight shows us where we have come from and the seemingly strange coincidences that have made up our non-linear path.