Travels with Myself
A Journal of Discovery and Transition
Doug Jordan, Author
Marshall McLuhan famously said ‘the medium is the message’ (by which was meant that the choice of means and transmission of the message was more impactful than the message itself) but this could also be restated as ‘the medium is the legacy’. If the creator hasn’t provided for the means to preserve their work, and retrieve it, it vanishes, and the longed-for legacy is lost. Hoping to be remembered is a mug’s game really, since in actuality the means to preserve and retrieve records is fragile and likely temporary.
When I start a new book project, I name the file with an appropriate title and mark it R0 – Revision Zero. I suppose the original file could be called Draft 1 and the revision would be Draft 2. Or it could be First Draft and then Revision 1 but that annoys me. So I call the first draft R0 and the 2nd draft R1. (I know, quirky.)
Even before we left Canada we knew the original model of living together six months in Canada and six months in The Philippines had to change. Our model now has to be the Filipino Balikbayan concept – working off-shore for ten months, home for a couple – Doug attending to his consulting business in Canada to earn extra funds to support his pamilya in the Philippines and join Carmen from time to time in Trece, or Kanata.
Rainy days severely limit commerce and economic activity in The Philippines. With Super Typhoons, everything comes to a halt, government and schools suspended. This is a chronic problem for the Philippines economy but acute for the millions of Filipinos who operate micro-enterprises, called tindahans, out of their tiny houses.
Or how ‘bout this one, don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good. Absolutely. How many of us get mired in design detail seeking perfection (or even excellence) and never make deadlines, or even produce anything at all? But you know, the devil is in the details. And there’s that damn word ‘good’ again. What is good? Is it good enough. Good enough is hardly excellence.
My purpose in life is not necessarily to be happy so much as to be worry-free. Regardless, you can put yourself into that state by becoming absorbed whole heartedly in something. Some people can do this through ‘mindful’ meditation. I can’t. I have to do something. So I write.
I wonder what 2020 would have been like if the world hadn’t panicked in response to a pseudo-calamity, covid. As I wrote my annual plan in my virtual Harvard Planner last January while I was in The Philippines, who would have guessed the events that turned my plan upside down.
I’m not sure how other authors do it [research for their books]. Highly successful authors with large revenues, or publisher advances, can hire students and staff to do it for them. But if you’re an independent author (the modern vernacular is ‘Indie’, hmmmm) you do your own. Or if you are mildly schizophrenic, or merely eccentric, you could delegate, to yourself.
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.
One goal is output – not the ambitious thousand words a day, more like five hundred. In any event, a thousand words a day is pointless if it’s mostly crap. I think of Hemingway at his typewriter, tearing pages out of his carriage and filling his wastepaper basket, so much more visceral than modern hard drives. I’ve learned to be content with merely a decent paragraph, and just walk away.
My author friends said I would never be able to please all the readers all the time, especially family and closer friends. I needed to put their ego issues aside and consider who my ultimate audience was. But that was still not clear to me. What was the real reason for writing this book?
I still have problems to solve and still need to find the courage to solve them. Chief among these are dealing with aging, living a more considered life (James Hollis), practicing virtue and dying (with dignity). Bundled with this is leaving a legacy to my children and grandchildren, memories they can be proud of.
As I anticipated my trip to Manila to meet the Filipina Cupid, I fretted about being drawn away from my [renewed interest in writing and completing my ‘novel’]. Such is the mind of the writer when the writing bug is upon him, he doesn’t want to do anything else.