Chronicles in Ordinary Time 65: The Unexpected Journey


valley of the shadow_crop
More marketing: my new gallery at Artistically Social:

When I started working for the Bureau of Buildings, in Portland, I still thought of myself as a contractor. I discovered that when someone asked the question, “how do I build this?” and I gave them my opinion as a contractor, they treated the information as “the City says I need to do it this way.” Some of that advice I gave was pure guesswork—‘if I was doing this, I’d start by doing…’ I learned it was very important to not give advice unless I was positive that the advice was sound, in a variety of situations; sometimes I didn’t really have the complete story. This awareness helped me to understand why Bureaucrats exist—if they don’t provide you with any useful information, they aren’t likely to be responsible for giving out bad information. Fourteen years after I started my gig with the City, I learned that my body could no longer stand the strain of ‘being responsible’ for all of the things that I chose to make my responsibility.

A long introduction to the idea that I don’t like to give random advice unless I know that the advice is accurate in most situations. When I started writing these blogs, it was as much for therapy as anything else. “Public Journaling”—journaling can be a good method of finding out how I think about my life. The Unexpected Journey is the subject of the illustration above. Larger versions can be seen at this link, and at this link.

Pain is something I know too much about; and at the same time, don’t know enough about. I’ve thought of creating a public ‘pain journal’ in hopes of providing some useful information for those who deal with chronic pain. The idea also seems very much like hubris—an arrogance that seems like extreme pride or self-confidence—the American problem, looking at the concept from a political perspective. Consequently, I haven’t started that blog page. I feel as though writing about pain is some sort of strange way of drawing attention to myself/feeling sorry for myself. Feeling sorry for oneself can be a deadly pastime.

40+ years of chronic pain, which apparently has no real diagnosis. It’s getting worse; and I’m getting weaker. Lots of doctors are clueless.

The myelin sheathing on my nerve fibers is disintegrating—sort of like the insulation on electrical wiring falling apart—as happens with old wiring. Lots of my nerve cells have shorted-out and no longer send out signals; it also appears that having no myelin sheathing on a nerve fiber creates pain. So, I have lots of pain and no visible injury. It’s important to learn the difference between pain and injury. Pain happens when your body doesn’t like what you are doing; it doesn’t necessarily mean something is injured. If something’s injured, it needs attention. If something hurts, and doesn’t get worse by activity, it becomes a ‘statement’ your body is making. You have a choice as to how you are going to acknowledge the ‘statement.’

Took a nap today; second nap this week. Feels wrong. I’m not the guy that takes naps. Another thing to add to my growing list of “I’m not the guy who…” Apparently I’m becoming that guy in spite of my best efforts.

Pain Management. I’ve tried lots of methods, some better than others. My goal has always been ‘feeling better to the point where I can ignore the pain,’ rather than self-medicating to point of feeling good. Soaking in a hot tub of water is a pretty effective method of creating “feel good”—however it has some practical difficulties for one who lives most of his life in a world of electricity and paper—the major physical components of my life…

Being creative on demand can be tough. I tend to feel exhausted most of the time; my most creative hours are late in the evening by DVD light. While being creative isn’t necessarily complementary to pain, the process of creating can be a good way to shove pain into the corners of my mind. I find that writing has become a way to find the mood for illustrations.

Judi Dench wanted to be a designer until she watched a particular production of a Shakespearean play—the stage was open, and the only ‘backdrop’ was a column in the center—as it rotated around it became a rock, or a throne, etc. She realized that she could never be that creative as a designer, and turned to acting.

My daughter-in-law manages A Children’s Place Bookstore and they are in the process of relocating. One of the posters on their wall is a drawing by Chris Van Allsburg; when I started this illustration gig, I wanted to be another Chris Van Allsburg. I have the technical skill; I lack the imagination. Hard to admit, but it’s about time that I do.

Judi Dench is losing her eyesight, and has no desire to stop acting. She’ll make it work.

One of my new favorite songs is “The Glorious Unfolding” by Stephen Curtis Chapman, and has the following lyric:

Lay your head down tonight
Take a rest from the fight
Don’t try to figure it out
Just listen to what I’m whispering to your heart

‘Cause I know this is not
Anything like you thought
The story of your life was gonna be
And it feels like the end has started closing in on you
But it’s just not true

There’s so much of the story that’s still yet to unfold
And this is going to be a glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding…

I’m watching.

River Boat PilotUnfinished copy of Norman Rockwell’s “River Pilot” left unfinished many years ago.

Thank you, David, for the Rockwell book.




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