Getting one’s bearings

It is an odd though by no means uncommon circumstance that one loses one’s bearings. When this happens it translates even the most somber demeanour to a singular trajectory; thence to constrained endurance and eventually embracing a broad and unfamiliar orientation. In short things quickly become topsy-turvy. Indeed so awry is the sensation that there is a readiness to believe that one is unhinged. If I were to guess at a metaphor the ingestion of an unfamiliar drug might be the cause of the disquietude. The anxiety is otherwise inexplicable.  Apart from the acknowledgement of one’s ephemeral existence for example, I haven’t any other enduring irritants in life; and, I hesitate to adopt an existential dynamic as an absolution.

Sometimes the willingness to accept one’s currency in life is the path of both least resistance and the greatest reveal. What disturbs me however about this particular line of examination is that it presumes a conclusion (“reveal”) from an unproven comportment (“least resistance”) which I think is readily disclosed as no more than wishful thinking.  That is, we haven’t any evidence to support the convenient and fossilized theory that prevalence is the answer; a modification of the dismissive ejaculation, “You is what you is!”

Accordingly we’ve not come very far along the road of inquiry into the fundamental issue. The result is once again muddled. I have learned by accident that recovery from this disarray is not by accommodation but rather by clinical imperatives. Essentially there is a reason for the problem. The focus therefore becomes an investigation of what has promoted the addled state of mind.

Time and again I have amused myself to recall the quip from a dying intellectual to her mentor, “You say to me, What is the answer? and I say to you, What is the question?” As frivolous as it may seem, it is not without its import.  Losing one’s bearings is not, in spite of its seemingly modest assertion, a trifling matter. Disorientation is more precise; viz., an uncertain and uncomfortable posture. Obviously the inspiration behind the irresolute frame of mind is paramount. And after a lifetime career of practising law I am not about to abandon knowledge for any species of mysticism. Nor am I about to confess that you can’t get there from here.  Logic is a method not an answer of its own; that is, it exacts fruitful explanation arising from relevant observation.

At my advanced age, and after having lately reconfigured the pattern of my existence, it should not surprise me to confront disturbance.  Like an old dog I prefer the familiar. On the other hand I have to admit I marvel at the expediency of our recent alterations. No doubt part of the dilemma of losing one’s bearings is having to adjust to an unanticipated course. By definition the change is at its worse disruptive, at its least irritating. Both are bewildering. It does however quell one’s anxiety to observe for example that as is so often the case many of one’s alterations have been precipitated by the actions of others. Basically one’s direction has been interrupted.

There is no doubt that we become accustomed to repetitive habit.  Similarly we acknowledge the possibility of becoming adversely entrenched in routine. Neither narrative is particularly improving. What however is assured is that whatever course it is upon which one is directed (or forced by circumstance to endure) there is likely no turning back; and therefore the prospect of continuing is by that necessity alone more persuasive, gilded by the newly acquired ingredients.

We shall never know the details which inspired Christopher Columbus. He seems not to have ascribed to the inevitability of falling off the edge of the world. Whether he knew he were to signal the pre-Columbian era is another story.

Largely self-educated, Columbus was knowledgeable in geography, astronomy, and history. He developed a plan to seek a western sea passage to the East Indies, hoping to profit from the lucrative spice trade. After the Granada War, and Columbus’s persistent lobbying in multiple kingdoms, the Catholic Monarchs Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand II agreed to sponsor a journey west. Columbus left Castile in August 1492 with three ships and made landfall in the Americas on 12 October, ending the period of human habitation in the Americas now referred to as the pre-Columbian era. His landing place was an island in the Bahamas, known by its native inhabitants as Guanahani. He then visited the islands now known as Cuba and Hispaniola, establishing a colony in what is now Haiti. Columbus returned to Castile in early 1493, with captured natives. Word of his voyage soon spread throughout Europe.

It is of course an admitted leap from being a retired lawyer in Almonte to “opening the way for widespread European exploration and European colonization of the Americas”.

Nonetheless from my personal vantage, looking upon the placid water of the Mississippi River and contemplating an afternoon swim upon the country estate of my erstwhile physician at his invitation, this is the best of all possible worlds.  My diminished consternation is exceeded by the blunt and clear expression of things. Whether it is simple analysis or merely the settlement of the dust I shall never know. Getting one’s bearings is a complicated undertaking not for the pusillanimous.

Post Scriptum:

Life’s teetering momentum ……..

Surrounding forces playing upon both individual and collective lives are in constant states of flux, unbalanced moving parts to life’s mix.

Many of these forces may be unbeknowst to us and with no awareness or direct impact felt upon individual lives, a semblance of quilibrium is felt maintained.

It would seem for some of us anyway that there have been lengthy periods of time in our lives when we could deem ourselves privileged to have enjoyed relatively minimal disruptions in our daily functioning

We may attribute this blessing of stability to the lucky chance of our birth, education, life experiences, support networks, genes or thru the sheer luck of avoidance of what for others are potentially life altering factors.

However it is an illusion to believe that anything can hold sway over the avoidance of change … change is as inevitable as death and taxes.

With no control whatsoever on our part, skin cells by the millions are fluffed off daily under the constant motion of change … be it in a day or over years for some cells, you are simply being remanufactured on an ongoing basis.

It is our conscious awareness of imposed change that results in our pulsating, anxious need to return as quickly as possible to a place of balance and restored equilibrium. Without doing so we more than likely will succumb to high levels of distress, illness or even death — body cells are recording our every state of mind.

Choosing to change course is one thing, having a course change imposed is where the struggle begins and it takes some realignment and adaptation to the ‘new’ to regain the once known balance and equilibrium.

Best we learn to breathe in, breathe out through the period of transition and learn to let go, live unattached of our need to control and achieve perceived perfection.

As Ken’s doctor said once to him ” Ken it is the “new you” … but what if he wants to hold onto the old Ken … well that would entail a flight from reality whereas we are required to adapt, adjust and realign to all that is forever and uncontrollably imposed upon our lives.

Live and survive or feel the slow agonizing death of mind, body and/or spirit remains an option.

History of personal and collective oppression by perpetrators tells us stories, show us what was required in order to survive the worst imaginable impact possible from imposed change.

Daily we are surrounded by those unfortuante to have their equilibrium swallowed up by life threatening disease … they set the marker high for courage, endurance and a driving will to survive and some do despite the odds.

Today’s news is filled with stories of continued oppression and growing societal tensions … being put off balance can already be felt, history can become merciless in the blink fo an eye. We ignore its advancement at our peril.

What propels some towards survival … these thoughts occupy my mind. I dig deeply to know of what I’m made or my essence.

Leonard Cohen wrote poetically these lines :

“So ring the bells that still can ring; Forget your perfect offering; There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”

Karen Hirst
September 5, 2023