Thankful to Be Me

This year, I am so thankful for so many things, I can not even imagine condensing them all into just one day. Right now, I’m thankful for old friends. Two in particular. Either they’ve recently gotten more active, or Facebook has been letting them into my feed more, but I’ve been seeing more posts by a couple of friends from college lately and saw that they recently got together. One of them is Jay Burleson.
A few Thanksgivings ago, Jay B sent a song through our email circle of ten tight friends before Facebook, mid-adulthood, and a bad case of cranio-anal disorder kind of flummoxed the group (for those unfamiliar with the term, cranio-anal disorder is the not so rare condition when someone has their head up their ass.). Nevertheless, I still love all of those guys more than they can possibly know, and every time I get play the song, I think about Jay B and the boys.
I Don’t Need Anything I Don’t Have was written by Glen Phillips. He is the lead singer for Toad the Wet Sprocket, a band that was popular when we were in college and is soon going back into the studio to record another album. I met Glen in LA when he played a show at the Largo on Fairfax Avenue once.
Jay B Had met him a few nights earlier in Florida and asked me to give him my copy of The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight by Thom Hartmann, which I happened to see on Jayne and Ellen’s shelf yesterday. The book was a big inspiration when I read it while I was hitch hiking through Missouri and Kansas on the way to see Jay B in Colorado during my first attempt at finding a better system than the Judeo-Christian/Capitalist/Consumerist mindset that seemed to be guiding my civilization toward certain annihilation by the angry Hand of God through lack of civility, blind obedience, egotism, and over shopping. Both Thom and Glen, and even more so Jay B, helped me to realize that there really is a better way. Just a few more travelers on the Unbroken Path.

Jay B came to see me a few months later when I was working at Korbel Winery in California. He showed up in the middle of night with a six pack and a smile,  and it inspired a song. I’ve sometimes been accused of having a big ego, and I’ve come to the realization that a majority of the time it’s true. With all of the traveling I’ve done, the jobs I’ve worked, relationships I’ve created, and crazy stunts I’ve pulled, I’ve developed quite a many facets to this creature known as Steve.
If you take the time to link to look at the facets, you’ll see many that are chipped, stained, or cloudy. In Western thought, it is because I am an imperfect sinner with a black spot on my soul. In Eastern thought, it is the wabi sabi of imperfection that makes me beautiful.

To some people, I’m too much of one thing, to others, I’m too much of another. Whatever it is that I truly am, I am at peace with it. In my tradition, God said that his name was I Am That I Am. In my search to more greatly understand what this entity is and how it can best use a beaten and battered poet like me in a world that sometimes seems to serve only to teach how to beat and batter, I’ve largely come to realize that It’s pretty much everything. Basically, what will be will be. And when I stop beating and battering, and just listen to the still small voice in the quiet of my breath, I’m much more able to understand what It wants me to do.  I don’t always listen, and often get distracted by Its complexity, but Whatever that I Am That I Am really is, I hope that Its message can be heard beyond all of the other nonsense that I am.

At a time when I feel completely abundant, having given up what the knuckle-headed world round me holds most valuable, I am truly thankful for having the freedom to just be myself, the courage to live up to the challenge, and the understanding that its enough. When I don’t have to worry about what I don’t have or about being somebody I’m not, I get to open up my attention to so many amazing people, a more robustly beautiful environment, and more opportunities than I could possibly respond to in my lifetime. Basically, I’m thankful for every facet of the perfectly imperfect life around me.


2 thoughts on “Thankful to Be Me

  1. Hey Steve. Thanks friend. I remember those days fondly. Picking you up at that truck stop on 70 in the middle of the night. You were living it man!
    I’ve been fortunate enough to see a lot of this country in the last 9 years guiding. But sometimes I felt lost or that I wasn’t ‘doing what I was supposed to.’ All of you or at least most of you (the ten and others) always said, man, you are living it. Or ‘I wish I had your life.’ And that bothered me a lot. Because while, yes, I was seeing a lot of amazing things on the road, I was on the road. I had all my belongings in storage, I lived out of a backpack, hell, I even got a divorce because of it. And this time exactly last year I was going to give it all up and settle down. See if it stuck. I wanted it. I had always felt that I was running from something but had no idea what that was. Mandy and I actually have emailed each other about it in the past year and I have finally come to forgive myself for leaving her. But in April, the settling down didn’t quite make it. My girlfriend of 3 years (on and off) broke up and I moved out in July and started to guide again, thinking I just needed to get away. To run like I always did. Then this past October a friend from a past trip asked me to go on a road trip with her. It would be a three week drive from Denver to the Keys. I of course jumped at the chance. I knew her but didn’t really know her or how she traveled but I said yes regardless. We rented a car and got on the road. We were going to see EVERYTHING. It was this trip that finally made me feel good about my life choices. I am so lucky…..and thankful to be able to do what I do. It’s ok that I don’t own a house. Although one day maybe I will want that. It’s ok that I live season to season. Experiencing LIFE. I realized what I needed in life. What I wanted in a companion. What I could deal with. How much patience I have. And how I love to take the lead in some aspects. Some people never get the chance to see a quarter of what I’ve seen. And I will continue to do so and be ok with it.
    I remember how I was envious of you when you were hitching across the country. I had just read Peter Jenkins, “Walk Across America” and it had a profound effect on me. But I could never imagine doing that. And coming to visit you in the woods in NorCal was amazing. And maybe a bit of that put me on my path. And for that I’m thankful.
    I’m always reminded of that quote that says ‘There will be two dates on your tombstone but it’s the dash in the middle that will mean the most.’
    If we don’t appreciate every moment we have. If we don’t live every minute we are missing out on so much. There is so much to do. So much to see.
    Get living or get dyin’ right?

    • Oh believe me, you ain’t the only one to doubt life choices, my friend. But as long as you can be authentic and come to the place where you can appreciate who you are and what you bring to the world, you get to the point where you just drop the “should” and, as you said, get living’. I’m happy for you, my friend, and eternally grateful that I can honestly call you that.

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