I Need to Wake Up

I just came across a song that was very meaninful to me in a different world and I want to share the song and the story. i haven’t heard it for a couple of years and many memories came crashing through when I heard it today. The song became meaningful to me about three years before the story I share below, and all during the time that I talk about. The video posted below has its own meaning that I feel is very important and I

 hope you will listen and read the statements that come on the screen. But it has a deeper meaning for me as well.

About a year and a half ago, in the faraway land of Kelowna, British Columbia, my life fell apart. I was only there because I thought it would be good for my wife to be close to her family who lived in that city too. When my wife informed me two years ago that she was looking for a job in another region and planned to leave me, I nearly lost it. At the time I was behind on my rent because I was not getting any help from her. I was struggling to make a long-doomed marriage work, struggling to make my business work…. 3000 miles away from family and friends and anything that looked like love or companionship. I had no idea she gave up until that moment she told me.

Six months later she drove off in the only car we had. My landlord informed me I had to leave the three bedroom house I was living in, and move into a tiny room in the basement if I wanted to stay there. He also told me I had to get rid of my beautiful dog Sheba who I had owned for seven years. I had no other choice – I did not have the resources to move again, just enough to get another car and hopefully salvage my business any my life.

In order to meet his demands I had to down-size my life. A houseful of stuff was just thrown away into a dumpster a couple of days after my wife left. That same afternoon I took my dog to the shelter and said goodbye. It was the worst day of my life.

I was severely depressed and circling the drain. I believe that I would have harmed myself, if not for my friends Donna Reiher Spinillo and Carol Eck-Driscoll who saw that I was in distress, and helped me retain my sanity. Thank you both. Carol is still my friend, Donna of course has come to mean much more to me today than she did then. She has helped me in so many ways, and I am grateful to her. Donna convinced me to come home and start over rather than stay there and try to pick up the pieces – something I had dreamed of for years but couldn’t achieve while still trying to make the marriage work. But with everything gone, it was time to move on.

Now I am home, close to family and friends, and last week celebrated my 50th birthday. I have been back in NY for longer than any time since my father died in 1984. But it is still a struggle for me. I still struggle with depression. ADHD makes things harder for me that are easy for others. Very little of my life is the way I thought it would be when I turned 50. But God has given me a great family, the best friends, and the most beautiful woman in the world at my side. I believe with their support and a good deal of hard work on my part, I can be the success I know I was meant to be.

I left home at 22 the same week my father died. I spent the rest of my life until now looking for something that was right here all the time. I’ve travelled the world from NY to New England to Chicago to California to the Philippines to Fiji, and never found what it was that was missing. All I have to show for it is a bunch of really cool stories but nothing else. No home, no twenty years on the job, no children to take care of me when I am old.

Thirty years I wasted – WASTED !!! – travelling and seeking love from strangers and success in strange lands, never finding it. I missed watching my sisters’ kids being born and growing up. It took me to age 50 to realize that everything I needed was right here under my nose from the beginning of my life. In fact, I’m typing this in the living room I grew up in, in the home I knew from the time I was six years old.

So here am I, back home, (thanks to Steve Vera for giving me a place to stay for a few months at first) struggling to make my business work, trying to find a place to call my home on a permanent basis. But with the right people in place, with Donna at my side and God as my helper, I know I will make it work. My heart is finally full, even if my bank account needs a bit of growth.

I can’t keep doing things the way I used to. I need to move. I need to wake up. I need to change. I need to shake up. I need to speak out. Something’s got to break up. I’ve been asleep and I need to wake up now….

Lost in the Fog

These economic times are brutal to small business owners and entrepreneurs. Regular customers, trying to save money, use goods and services less, and try to make-do with what they’ve got.

This has adversely affected me, because just when the recession started, I moved to a new area and started up a new business. It’s been a long process getting a footing, and it has left me struggling to cover my expenses. I’ve been feeling behind on things for a couple of years now, and wondering if I’ll ever see daylight again. It’s depressing. It’s like being adrift in a boat with no rudder, on a sea of uncertainty. It’s fearful, and I wonder if I’ll ever feel successful again.

An experience in my early years reminds me there’s hope. In the mid to late-80s I lived in New England, moving around every few months, and working at a variety of interesting and educational jobs. Once such job was as a lobster pound assistant on Hewitt’s Island, in Maine’s western Penobscot Bay.

A lobster pound is a place where they store and fatten lobsters over the winter, then package and ship them to market. Lobsters purchased at the C.L. Bickford lobster buying station in Spruce Head were loaded in crates on boats and taken back to Hewitt’s Island where they were released into one of the two lobster pounds there.

I had a small two-storey cottage on the far side of the island near one lobster pound and my boss lived on the side closer to the mainland in a similar cottage near another lobster pound. To get to and from the island was only possible by boat, and we had a 22-foot Scout with two outboard engines as our main source of transportation.

Other than canoeing, I had no boating experience whatsoever prior to this job. My boss Richard Dyer – just the kind of guy you’d picture as a crusty but refined Maine sea captain – was the one who by necessity had to get me to my car on the mainland, for my weekends off in Rockland. After a few of these trips I started pestering him to teach me to operate the boat, and he did. It was a rocky coast, full of ledges and shoals, lobster buoys, and other things that can cause problems for boaters. These were usually well marked, but you had to be able to read the various warning buoys and know which was the safe side to pass on.

While it was pretty easy to make the trip on a clear day, operating at night – or worse, in the fog – is an entirely different issue. For that you had to rely on your compass, and be able to set a bearing and stay on it until you reach certain landmarks, when you’d set a different bearing and stay on it, until you reach another landmark and set a new bearing, and so on until you reached your destination. I watched Richard navigate the route many times, then started doing the driving during the day. He would always take over at night or in the fog.

One bright, sunny afternoon, I convinced Richard to let me take the boat on my first solo trip to Spruce Head. I got to the wharf, tied up the boat and got into my ’72 Gran Torino Sport to head to Owl’s Head for some beer to bring back to Hewitt’s Island. While I was out, one of those infamous Maine fogs crept in on little cat feet, blanketing the bay in a thick, opaque cloud. “Oh crap.” I had never run the boat in the fog, but I watched Richard do it a dozen times and I knew the headings and landmarks and danger zones.

I went to C.L. Bickford to contact Richard on the island for some advice. Richard verified compass readings with me, and asked me if I thought I should just wait a few hours until the fog lifted. But the beer was getting warm, so I was in a hurry to get back.

I got in the boat, set the beer and my jacket in the bow, untied the bow and stern lines holding me to the wharf, and pushed off with the gaffe – basically an eight foot long 1×2 with a metal hook on the end. I started my engines and started inching slowly away from the wharf.

It was really hard to see. There were lobster pot buoys peppering the bay, and I had to go slow enough to make sure my engines didn’t run afoul of the lines holding them to the traps deep below on the bay floor. It was really slow going. I made it out to one of the major landmarks, a huge buoy in a narrow channel, marking the safe side on which to pass. Then it was a new compass heading and other than lobster pots, there wasn’t much to worry about until I got close to Hewitt’s Island.

At one point, I had to make a wider than normal birth around a lobster trap. When I came back to my heading, I made a really bad mistake – I imagined that I had to correct my heading slightly to account for having come back at it from a different direction. I was completely wrong about that, but at the time it made sense to me. So I corrected my heading by less than one degree. Guess what….?

I never came to my next marker. The fog wasn’t lifting and I was moving through it aimlessly, not really sure where I was. Worse, it was about 90 minutes before nightfall, and the combination of fog and nightfall meant I was going to be spending a chilly overnight in the open boat. (At least I had beer!) But what was really on my mind was the shit-fit my boss Richard was going to have. “I TOLD you to wait until the fog lifted….” He was probably worried like crazy that I didn’t show up on the island after two hours.

So, I’m starting to actually feel a little bit of adrenaline myself, a bit of a fight-or-flight response to a totally foreign situation to me. If I got off the wrong subway stop in the middle of New York, no problem, I’ll find my way home. But nothing here is in my skill set, and I honestly didn’t know what to do.

It was fall, and many of the islands in the bay were uninhabited that time of year, but I didn’t know that. I went past an island that had a house visible near the shoreline. I hoped there would be a marine radio I could use to at least let Richard know I was OK. I ran the bow into the sand and took the bow line with me to tie to a tree. I went up to the house, but there was no one there. The door was unlocked. I went inside, looked for a radio or other means of communication, but there was none. There wasn’t even electricity or running water and I was starting to get thirsty.

I went back to the Scout, grabbed my bow line, and pushed off with the gaffe, so the bow was swinging back out to the bay. I pushed into slightly deeper water so I could start my engines. Then I realized that by running the boat aground, I had snapped the steering linkage between the two outboard engines. So now, I was not only lost in the fog, I was adrift with no steering. Up until now this was a bit of an adventure, but this was getting serious.

I took a line from one of the bow compartments and tied one end of it to the right handle of the right outboard engine, and I tied the other end to the left handle of the left outboard engine. That way, I could stand forward of and between them, and steer somewhat by pulling whichever rope I needed to. If I pulled the left rope, the boat went left, and the right rope made it go right. I headed back out into the bay, hoping that the fog would lift before nightfall, or that I would see some landmark I recognized and figure out how to get back to Hewitt’s.

At one point, I saw a bright incandescent light in the fog. I figured if there was electricity, there would be people and a radio so I headed towards it. It took about ten minutes to see any shoreline, but when I did, it looked familiar. Then suddenly I realized, it was the wharf at Hewitt’s Island! I’d made it home by following the light….. of a 40-foot Coast Guard cutter that Richard had radioed to. They were collecting information from him and were about to conduct a search for me. When it became clear that the situation was resolved, they quickly left the wharf and on to their next mission. I was just glad to be back home, and right at nightfall.

So now, twenty five years later, I need to apply that experience to my current business crisis. I need to figure out what is my compass, and follow my course without wavering. I need to figure out where I last saw light and head towards it, expecting a good outcome. It’s hard, and its painful but it brings growth. I know that the fog will lift. I know that the engines will steer the ship in the direction I pull the rope. It’s having that faith through the dark times that I know will get me to home harbor.

Copyright ©2012 David Lynch. All Rights Reserved.