Sunday, January 04, 2009

It was a Year

So it was a year that held two brushes with the hereafter: A staph infection, then a car crash.

So much for attempting to live a quiet life then.

One of my favorite books read this year was Jawbreaker, in which retired CIA officer Gary Bernsten recounts directing the war against al-Qaida on the ground in late 2001.

At one point, he writes about a conversation with an associate on how people chose to be either economic men or adventure men. I've certainly lived most of my adult life as the latter, but have been trying to make the switch to the former these last two years. I've done well at it, landing a secure, decent paying job, getting my finances in order, and still managing to move to and travel across the Pacific Northwest.

But…

But the job part of being an economic man sucks. The new job in Portland with its six-day workweeks and mandatory overtime has certainly been a disappointment. It's certainly nowhere near as much fun as the job in Reno was.

So, do I go back to the Army? Do I take my chances on leaving a secure, adequate job during the opening of what is sure to be a severe economic crisis to go back to school full time? Alternatively, do I combine full-time work and part-time school?

I'm definitely moving downtown next summer when the lease is up. Settling out here in Beaverton was a mistake. Yeah it's convenient to live next door to work, but I did not move to this region for an easy commute.

I came here to live at a heightened, sustainable degree of intensity.

Economic sustainability is what prompted me to make the jump to economic man in the first place. And I can't honestly say that it's a bad thing. I've certainly dared a lot during my time, taken my share of risks, and enjoyed some heady triumphs, but I've smacked into the ground hard a few times too. This last time, getting divorced, was the worst, both emotionally and in terms of forgone opportunities. If I keep this up, sooner or later, I will end up being permanently bitter and/or destitute.

Of course, it's not necessarily an either-or choice. There is a spectrum of opportunity. Right now I am going with a full spread of applications to other employers and schools and see what comes through.

As terrible 2008 as was for so many, it was a rather good to me. I'm established, I have economic security, and above all, I'm finally living in the Pacific Northwest!

When I was moving here, driving through the steep hill country south of Eugene on a misty day of gray and green, a thought occurred to me: "You belong to this."

That realization has struck me many times since then, while traveling the countryside or walking downtown. I am now a part and parcel of this place. I am very much where I belong on this earth; everything else is a matter of working out details.

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