Echoes of an Unlived Life

For almost a year I’ve been bouncing around to different locations hoping a ‘new life’ might take hold. Mostly, though, in my mind I’ve been trying to make peace with an unlived lifea life I never got to live because it got sabotaged. It’s territory that comes with aging — not really regrets, but looking back and wondering where the path untaken or the turn that dead ended might have led.

The turn that dead ended for me happened some sixteen years ago. I had left Flagstaff, Arizona for San Jose, California; a big change no doubt, but it seemed to take hold as I found the best job of my life. I got hired in the communications department of the computer company Juniper Networks as a tech writer. I announced my new life with pride to family members, only to hit a dead end.

On my first day, as my new coworkers were showing me my desk, a group of front office elites arrived in their power business suits. They asked my name, and when I replied one of them said, “You aren’t going to be working here.” Puzzled, I asked them what the problem was, and they simply repeated what they had said. I noticed security waiting in the wings as I asked if I could speak to the hiring manager who gave me the job. The reply, “He doesn’t work here anymore either.” With that, I was escorted to the door, wondering what the heck had happened.

Obviously, a new piece of information about me had come to their attention. This was before the days of having an online presence, no FaceBook or LinkedIn profiles. I wondered if it had to do with me making a federal legal case out of my life some years earlier, but that was all settled and didn’t seem to fit what had happened here. Anything professional and most personal things would have been handled with more care by asking a question, not the brick wall approach. This was so impersonal that it had to have been personal. Someone who knew me had sabotaged the situation.

I retreated to Flagstaff and ended up back east some time later. This is where I learned what had happened. After a similar circumstance of being brushed off by a friend-of-a-friend at a local production company, I sought out my friend who knew of the situation. He spoke of old rumours from my family still circulating; my sister (with mental health issues) had carried out a vendetta spoken against me in an argument; she had contacted people and lied about me. It made sense that she had contacted the company in San Jose and lied about me there too — and those lies got me booted from the best job of my meagre life.

What About the Echoes?

If you’ve ever played with echoes — yelling out in a canyon in the right place — you’ve heard how they generally fade but sometimes strangely get louder again and fade once more. Echoes of echoes. Memories work like that too, and powers of recall are stronger for writers than others. For whatever reason, when the echoes of those memories from sixteen years ago returned, they seemed to compel me back toward the place it all happened.

Last year, as the ‘get a new life’ impulse hit me again, I decided to give Oregon a try. The first hour in Eugene, someone smashed a window on my car and grabbed stuff while I took a short walk in a park. Ultimately ‘The Beaver State’ proved too dark and wet for me to want to stay. Next, I felt compelled to try the San Diego area. Same latitude as Tucson, nice and sunny, but nothing seemed to take hold there. I ended up with a seasonal job to the north in San Jose, and I figured I could make a go of it. I never expected the echoes of those days from sixteen years ago to become so loud again.

Many of the tech writing jobs I applied for mentioned Agile and Jira. Both seemed passingly familiar, but I didn’t remember learning them, so I decided to take a course online to upgrade my knowledge. There was an incredible sense of déjà vu with the material, and I realized I had seen some of the exact information before. I remembered that I had studied Agile and Jira preparing for my new job at Juniper Networks all those years ago. More memories and emotions from that time came rushing back. I was running over the same old ground, reliving the same old fears, wishing I was elsewhere.

Into the Doldrums

Doldrums is a much better word than depression. It refers to a temporary state or period of inactivity or stagnation rather than an ongoing condition. I realized that my journeys over the last year — maybe those over much of my life — were connected to the idea that I had missed out on something meant for me. Except that I also realized that my mind glorified the unlived life, turning it into more than it actually could have been.

In my younger days, I had the desire to be a writer in ‘Hollywood’. I put lots of effort into that, but eventually I realized I wouldn’t have enjoyed that life. Now, I was doing the same to the Juniper Networks job, making it more than it realistically could have been. What’s true is that staying in San Jose all those years ago would have made me a very different person than I am today. Would I like who I became? I see so many older corporate people stuck in what I refer to as ‘city think’. They’re indoor people — at home among the concrete and afraid of the outdoors unless there’s a beaten path to follow. I feel at home in the wilderness. I like who I am even if most people don’t ‘get me’. I’ve got no power business suits hiding in my closet.

This isn’t to say that my life is fulfilling; lately it feels rather empty. I often wish that I came from a more progressive and open upbringing, or that the ideas I learned all those years ago about the arts had taken hold in my family or my country. They didn’t. The arts are dead mostly; replaced with histrionics and clamouring. I wonder where I would be if there had been more love and support rather than religiosity and even sabotage of my breaking free. No matter how far one gets in life, the dream goes further still. I’m living the doldrums of these post-pandemic times.

The Silence of Time

The haptics of passing time — tick, tock — isn’t real. Time moves silently forward.

I learned long ago to stop playing into the histrionics of other people. There’s a never ending pit of drama in some people that isn’t worth invoking or triggering. I know this because it exists in myself. The difference is that I’ve found enough grace to separate the silence from the tick-tock, the real from the imagined. It seems some people lost that somewhere along the way.

Ancient Saguaro

The article on unlived lives ends on a positive note that feels somewhat forced. People said they found new depth in their existence as they talked things out with family or loved ones. Most people I know got divorced and don’t talk about it. To me, everything these days feels so trite. No one talks about anything anymore; at least not with a sense of discovery or caring for others; it’s all about preaching their histrionics from the mountain top expecting others to agree wholeheartedly or disagree vehemently. I suppose they are talking over the echoes they don’t want to hear again.

Getting lost in a canyon somewhere and playing with echoes is fun for a short time, then it turns into annoying yelling. It’s best to let the last echo fade and find the way to new adventures. The desert feels like home; sometimes running over the same old ground while branching out into new territory is the balance that makes the most sense.

Musings on Post-Pandemic Technical Writing

It’s been three months now of looking for a new life beyond the Pandemic. I’ve bounced from Tucson to Oregon, through Yellowstone just before the floods, back to Tucson and now to Southern California in San Diego County. All the while I’ve been applying for new work and trying to move beyond the pandemic.  Continue reading

Gone to Oregon

Gone to Oregon for the summer, seeking what lies beyond the pandemic. The world has certainly changed, and it doesn’t feel like there’s a place for ‘writers’ and ‘thinkers’ anymore. Tucson stopped feeling that way or perhaps just robbed whatever I brought there. I stumbled upon fraud more often than not when looking for work, and I even got accused of fraud by the unemployment office. People latched onto an idea of me as their Uber driver not knowing it was only a side gig. Tucson just wasn’t working. Continue reading

The InBetween Summer

Autumn has arrived in Arizona. I didn’t write a blog post the whole summer. I had a few abandoned ideas, but nothing came to fruition. Maybe it’s because I didn’t have much of a working life due to the pandemic. I was living off Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), and the staffing agencies that usually give me contract or temp work were amazingly quiet. Now PUA has ended, and I’m still looking for work. The staffing agencies are still quiet, and there are few other prospects, so it’s looking more and more like I’ll need a seasonal job of some kind for the holidays. Continue reading

The New Subaru Feeling

The feelings that come with a post-modern automobile. I got to experience that for a day with a loaner car from Tucson Subaru while my 2014 XV Crosstrek was getting therapy for a plague of dashboard lights. The CVT had unraveled, held me for ransom even though the car was running fine, and for my troubles I got the latest new-fangled 2021 Outback for a day. A car that can’t be owned because it owns you. Continue reading

Star Trek Discovery Finds the Future

This is a review of Season 3 of Star Trek Discovery (DSC), and believe it or not it’s mostly positive. I guess I like this show because I’ve kept following it since the beginning, albeit complaining that it could be better. If you want to take a journey back into my writing about Discovery in this blog follow this Star Trek tag. The posts that have “Discovery” in the title contain my thoughts going back to Season 1. Continue reading