Things Pass

It’s been 10 months since I’ve updated this blog. There are two reasons for that: one is that I’ve been focused on my YouTube show Adam Walks Around, and the other is that I have found the WordPress interface increasingly difficult and unnecessarily infuriating to use. My preference would be to just burn the whole thing down and start over with a simpler design and ability to input. Such a thing requires time. But it looks like time may be at my command now.

Six weeks ago, I returned to the United States to finally move out of my old place and deal with the remainder of my possessions…or so I thought. Almost as soon as I landed, Los Angeles went on lockdown and borders closed all over the world. This has been the case for six weeks, and there is no prospect of change for a long, long time. Most of my current life, friendships, and possessions are stranded back in Asia, with no clear timeline for when, or even if, I will see them again.

There are two ways to look at this.

I left the U.S. because my old life had become too isolated and anti-social. Every day felt about the same. I had lived in the same place for 24 years, and desperately needed a change of scenery. I was also convinced that the current government was going to face a crisis at some point that, because of its disinterest in the basic fundamentals of keeping a society and the wheels of bureaucracy running smoothly, it was completely unprepared for and unequal to. All the veneer would slip away and the American people would be left to pick up the pieces. I determined to be as far away from this as possible.

All that being the case, my current situation, where I am trapped in the midst of everything I sought to escape, is maddening. Nothing infuriates me more than to see something coming for me, doing everything I can to prevent it from happening, and it winds up hitting me in the face anyway. In the past six weeks I have had many bouts of bitterness and anger.

There’s a positive side, however. I came here to move out. I still can move out, and now I have all the time in the world to deal with every last damn thing I own, and the proceeds from selling my possessions are keeping me afloat for now. However long that takes, whenever that process is done, I’ll be able to travel light to whatever new destiny awaits me.

Also, much as I miss and grieve my life in Asia, it’s not like it’s a particularly nice place to be right now. Manila is a mess, with a lockdown more severe than ours and the real prospect of starvation for many people looming. Bali is becoming somewhat hostile to foreigners and is squabbling (surprise) over the effectiveness of masks. Cambodia, improbably enough, still has very few cases of COVID. If I had to be stuck anywhere, that’s probably where I’d choose, but I’d already spent four months there and needed a break. Also, if something did go south, that’s the last health care system you want to be stuck in.

The fact that I can’t access my old life (except for the shitty parts) or the new really sucks. But life sucks for everyone right now. I’m not special in that way. Looked at through that prism, I realize that in many ways I am fortunate.

As people grapple with the possibility that their lives may never be the same, I’m starting to understand that the adjustments I made were not all for nothing. I felt that there was a crisis coming, that the world as I knew it would not sustain or be there for me. I also acknowledged that life offers no guarantees and accepted the risks of bad outcomes, some of them really bad. Disease and long imprisonment were two of the worst possibilities that nonetheless I’d mentally processed. I took it all in and resolved to get ahead of the changes, and let go of the past to stay nimble for the future.

I already did the hard part: letting go of what was. As difficult as that is, I must do it again. Perhaps temporarily, perhaps permanently. I can’t know that. But the idea that everything you were and that you knew will pass…I already made that mental adjustment. It’s unnecessary and counterproductive to dwell on it. I did the hard part.

I can’t get caught up in the fact that it didn’t happen how I wanted, or (especially) where I wanted. Here I am, here it is, and this is where I’m at. Just because I’m back where I started for the time being does not mean I have to remain here, nor should I.

I will have to change. I will change in ways that perhaps I don’t particularly want, but I must so that I can navigate this strange time to my best advantage. If things turn out better than they now seem, fine. I’ll adjust again. In the meantime, I will shed all the remaining dead weight in my life, focus on my health and things that are diverting to me and, to the extent that I still don’t like binary cultural life in the U.S. (and how it colors our reactions to this crisis), I will make my own path. Alone if necessary.

Things pass. No good moment, nor bad moment, ever endures forever. This is what makes us cherish the best parts of our lives, and what makes us appreciate what comes after hardship. The greater the change, the greater the potential for new and exciting possibilities. The thing about change is, the worst part usually comes first…the benefits slowly manifest later. At the outset is when things generally seem most bleak. The upsides appear gradually. But in most cases, they do come.

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