After my life partner of fifty years had died of metastasized breast cancer, still young at 69, I naturally fell into a period of grief and transition. Concerned friends, believing I had more life in me yet, and aware I was fond of words and exploring a new identity – author – gave me a barnboard plaque with these words burned into the surface:
; my story isn’t over yet.
I had my doubts as I struggled through a long period of depression and hopelessness. But deep down I knew that plaque was right. I had life left in me, new things to learn, and stories to tell.
I did overcome my dark days, with much of the credit going to the inestimable Carmen Espino, and returned to life a new version of myself, perhaps a better version. But love in the time of Covid put a new wrench in my life’s journey. I returned to Canada leaving Carmen behind in the Philippines, both of us facing an uncertain future.
As John Lennon famously said, life is what happens when you are planning to do other things. Plans get upset, but purpose does not change. I will continue to find my purpose in being the best version of myself I can be. I will continue to seek excellence in my writing, but I hasten to add, Excellence, nor even writing, is not the whole part of being my best self. Our best selves also embrace living a virtuous life, at least as virtuous as we frail human beings can manage. And, as Martin Seligman advises, we become our best selves when we realize what our best talents are and find as many opportunities as we can to exploit them. From this we will know our purpose, and find moments of happiness.
I have mourned the separation from Carmen even though we tell each other it’s only temporary, but for how long? I am lonely and feeling sorry for myself, living first the 14 days back in Canada in forced quarantine and then then just living alone in my too big for one person home. But I had projects to keep my attention. I am working diligently to complete my current two projects: converting those blogs into books: Travels with Myself, and The Pilipiñas Packet (more on that in the next post). And as soon as I can put those projects to bed, I am very keen to get to work on my next two projects: The Treasure of Stella Bay (including a few weeks conducting research in the Kingston area) and The Girl From Santa Rita (and for that I have to return to The Philippines to interview a lot of people and scour the meagre archives of Samar).
Many of my readers, when they had read the last instalments of my blogs that they were in fact the last, were mildly alarmed at the news: I had said I would convert the two blogs to books: The Pilipiñas Packet ended because I had returned to Canada from Philippines, Travels with Myself ended because my journey from the abyss to recovery had largely been complete. But then my caring readers were relieved when I said I would continue the blog, I still have a life to live and stories yet to tell.
I thought I would report perhaps monthly. I was concerned that many of my readers were suffering blog fatigue and weren’t keeping up, so I thought I would back off to a monthly post. (Many on my readers’ list probably weren’t reading my blog at all, but I couldn’t do anything about that, except that some of the obvious cases have been dropped from my broadcast list.) In any event, when I tested this proposition with some of my readers they challenged me with, are you sure people don’t want to see a weekly blog notice in their inbox? Well of course I’m not sure and I’m also aware that some readers really do like to see that weekly notice. But I also know that generating a blog, nevermind two, a week was taxing of my time and kept me from my other projects. So I have decided on semi-monthly; you may look for a notice on the 15thand the 30thof each month. In these posts I will share my thoughts and progress on my projects and on my continuing journey of discovery. I hope my adventures aren’t quite as exciting as the last 18 months but then, my stories will be a bit boring, and I will not be true to my motto, Seize eros, live life vigourously. My blog will try for the same objectives as before: to entertain, possibly to educate. 😇
In reviewing and proofing the manuscripts of Travels With Myself I realized that, except very occasionally, and mostly at the beginning of the book, there was not much light humour in it; what there was more often than not was bitter irony. I had claimed that one aspect of my narrative style was humour, but that was largely missing in action in Travels With Myself. There was much more of it on offer in my other Blog, The Pilipiñas Packet. In Travels II I hope to bring more of that out. Life must have purpose, but it doesn’t have to be serious. After all, one of the Great Virtues is Sense of Humour: to laugh in the face of life’s ridiculousness. Life may be suffering, as Scott Peck says, but it doesn’t have to be dull. I hope I bring a smile to your face once in a while when you see yourself in my stories and realize, you too are ridiculous.
So you see, my story isn’t over yet. And you can follow it by bookmarking your browser and watch for semi-monthly notices of a new post on Travels with Myself.
Doug Jordan, Kanata, Ontario
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