How Am I Doing? How Are you Doing?

I’m frequently asked how I’m doing these days, and I often ask the same of others. While not inherently insincere, the question can feel pedestrian and the responses are often mundane. Response options include, “I’m living the dream, I’m well, I’m OK, I’m not so OK, and I’m uncomfortable.” The Rolling Stones scripture of 5 decades ago, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” suggests that frustration and disillusion are inevitable. Hearts and souls are wounded every day. But the song isn’t melancholic. There are gospel-like piano fills, and Jagger whoops and hollers. It is an anthem for not having what you want and need, and getting by anyway.

In Homeland Elegies, author Ayad Akhtar speaks of his mentor. He says, “Difficulty had been the flintstone against which her powers of analysis were sharpened.” I’m not an advocate for hard times, but they’re informative. Innovation and creativity arise during difficult times. I’m reconciled to challenge; I like it. Challenges make me face my limitations. When facing them and writing about them, I’m offered glimpses into my potential. Good times can also be an important ingredient of creative fertilizer.

Solitude is challenging. Sarla, my now deceased companion of 24 years, gave me someone to bump up against. I didn’t always enjoy it. But she offered me a vantage point for self observation. Her personality was bold, giving her the tools to push my buttons. Living without a button pusher is freeing, but can just as readily feel like a free fall. Now I can do whatever I want without unsolicited feedback. Solitude flexes its own feedback muscle. I’m bumping up against aloneness. I’ve scripted this time, yet there are moments of yearning for company. I lean into the feeling until it abates and resolve to stay the course. The onset of the 6th week in my adventure feels as though I’m still dwelling in its first chapter. It’s too soon to claim definitive knowledge about how I’m doing or where the path will lead.

When asked how I’m doing, I default to, ”Let me get back to you after more time has elapsed. I’d rather send you a link to my blog and let it speak for itself.” I don’t discount the question, but I’m incapable of a fill-in-the-blank response. Some of you have surmised that this journey isn’t a cakewalk. Reading is interactive. Any value that you might glean from reading my blog is as much about how you relate to what I write as it is about my reflections on thoughts, feelings, and experiences when I draft my posts.

When asked personal questions in a multiple choice answer format, Alfred E. Neuman, the gap-toothed cover boy for Mad Magazine, checked the box for his own leavening write-in entry, “None of the above.” Am I feeling blessed, having a fabulous time, a hard time, or an average time? None of the above.

I’m doin’ OK. You?

Published by jmlewisjr

Hello. This is Jimmy Lewis. I'm in Memphis, Tennessee. My golden doodle, Lola and I are leaving on a North American tour in May, 2021. We'll be traveling in a 2021 Jayco Melbourne 24L motorhome. We have neither time constraints nor exact destination specifications. We'll spend May in Virginia, North and South Carolina, and then head north through New York, Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont. If Canadians resume the practice of putting out a welcome mat for Americans, then we'll cross the border.  The seed for this journey began after my wife, Sarla passed away in May, 2020. Sarla was a yogi. An early yoga teacher of hers implored her to "Have what you need, and use what you have." As I prepare to close on the sale of our home on April 30, 2021, I'm deciding what I need based on the likelihood of using what I have. I give some things away without a flicker of feeling. When more meaningful items like the piano I inherited from my parents leave the premises, I feel like I'm saying goodbye to an old friend for the last time. Sarla's death lessened my attachment to the home we had enjoyed for 15 years and life as I knew it. I didn't need and couldn't possibly use a house that could satisfy the needs of a family with four children. I'll no longer experience residence, a concept identified with staying in a specified place, as I've heretofore known it. Life will never be the same, nor do I want to attempt to shape my future into a likeness of what I once knew.   I've set my sights on adventure. I want to be challenged by not knowing who or what I'll meet on the road. The outdoors is one of my default antidotes for stress. Other than my rig, I won't have an indoors base. Whereas others might opt to downsize so that they have the stability of a landing spot, I won't be able to go "home" as I've known it. I'm jazzed about the prospect of being at the whim of the muse, to go where my finger lands on turning pages of the Rand McNally atlas. My dog, Lola is indifferent even though I've been talking to her about the journey every day. She looks quizzically at me when I enthusiastically say we're hitting the road together. I'm confident that she'll do well. We've previously driven together to and from a destination 12 hours from home. She curiously gazed out the window and occasionally snoozed in the passenger seat. She didn't express displeasure about the podcasts and music selection that I chose to entertain and inform me while driving. This trip isn't driven by personal goals. Will I learn more about myself? Will I take advantage of the opportunity to reflect? Will I be lonely? Will I be uneasy? I'm motivated by a curiosity to follow the questions.

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