Thankful for Simple Pleasures

Here I am working at the same small table with my wife. Normally I’m out in my small writer’s “shack,” but about once per week I delight in sharing the same small space with Shawna. I love seeing her paintings in various stages of evolution. A shared pot of tea rounds out the experience perfectly. Enjoying silence together, while productivity pours through our minds and fingers, draws us together.

Sometimes I’ve been overwhelmed by clusters of blessings. Prior to receiving the help of good friends on a project to provide an art studio for my wife, I stumbled upon gold on my street. High winds dropped several large branches from century-old maple trees, providing a harvest of BTU’s. Having only five minutes before we tore into a project, I ran back and forth down the street like the village idiot to drag this firewood home. I measure my firewood quantity in terms of writing. Where others only see a nuisance, here I’ve obtained roughly 5 chapters worth of firewood. My small writer’s shack doesn’t require much wood, so I scavenge for everything I need. For the most part writing in the house is too distracting, so these gifts that fall from the sky like so much manna are received with thanksgiving. Five chapters in a book provided by this dry wood in the form of a perfect environment to pursue my craft is nothing to sneeze at. Oh, yes, the friends are awesome too!


In pursuit of the writing life, I’m thankful for the flexibility as well. Since losing my job two months ago, I’ve just now completed writing a book that previously had languished for years! I just posted what is tentatively the complete first chapter, which introduces you to what it was like to grow up in an extreme environment marked by squalor hoarding, here:

Much editing remains, but we’re currently sitting at 67,000 words spread among 40 mostly bite-sized chapters. That sounds huge, but it’s about the right size for a memoir like this. Bear with me on the excerpts. I really struggle with these, because they are devoid of context. You’ll see that the conditions of my childhood were shocking. These elements, which are too numerous to list are not the point of the book (riding in the back of a car during repeated high-speed car chases – peppered with the threat of shooting someone, a sense of meaninglessness that culminates in me jumping in front of a train at an intersection and missing death by mere milliseconds, having more than 100 animals in my bedroom, shocking squalor while growing up as the only child of a hoarder, crushing loneliness, major conflict, issues stemming from divorce, bedwetting that lasted into adulthood, etc).

Rather, it’s about adventure, redemption, and learning to become fully human. Roughly one third of the book is devoted to childhood, and the rest goes into a period where I engaged in fantastic adventures while learning how to live abundantly during a 9 month break from school (my rebirthing). It’s a coming-of-age adventure narrative that is peppered with wisdom gleaned from surviving the hoard and digging out to higher ground. This involved spending months in a wilderness cabin, traveling the western half of the country via backpack and train, a Bilbo-Baggins-like crossing of Olympic National Park during the cold rainy season complete with me singing to a herd of 50 elk as I passed between them during the onset of darkness and the start of a horrific storm that brought down 500-year-old trees while I huddled in my tent to survive the monsoon, enduring extreme cold, brushes of danger with wildlife, being touched by the kindness of strangers, learning to hear the sweet symphony of silence, and on and on. Through it all I was fully formed and remade spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and every conceivable way. How do I adequately put this into excerpts????  I struggle mightily with this, and sometimes it’s discombobulating to put shocking stories like this out there without the major changes that came later. Sigh. We’ll save that for the book when it’s finally released.

The publishing process is a vast labyrinth to explore as well, but there’s something about being hungry that pushes me to finally pursue what I’ve always wanted to do…

Make it a great week friends!

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