There is a shift happening in my world, a ‘click’ in my mind, recognizing that something is going to be different. Not just a season of difference, but after this nothing will be the same.
Today is the last day of Forgotten Realms. But the camp is as it always was. Too few people in the camp helping, ready to do the work necessary. Too few advocates ready to help, many making promises that no one delivers on. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Tomorrow, or the next day, advocates will condemn the camp, without ever having understood the work that myself and especially the leadership of the camp put into it.
Tomorrow I will begin work as a cleaner. I don’t see this work as an end, but as a means to an end. I will have time to explore my mind, to see where I am and where I should be.
In a year and a half I will be preparing to move to a different place. We will put our house on the market and I expect it to sell well. At this point, a good chunk of the money will go for charity, housing people who otherwise cannot be housed. And Diane and I will establish a place for her and I to live outside of community, with space for our children to visit or live, as necessary.
I wonder who I will be in a year. I wonder if I will have learned humility at that point. I wonder if I will still see myself as the smartest person in the room, or I will accept my fate as an older man who has done his work but can no longer keep up with the times.
I wonder if the world is a bit more compassionate because of my work. I wonder if I have really accomplished anything. So much that I began it seems to have fallen apart. And the work I have done has finally caught up with me.
I have PTSD that isn’t associated with a place or an experience, but certain people. I don’t hate these people, and I do what I can to help them, to love them, I pray for them, but every time I see them my chest tightens and I fight an urge to run. Because if I don’t run, I will yell or scream in their face because they have hurt me so deeply. They have torn apart the work that I associated with my being.
I wonder if after I get some rest if I would be able to forget these pains, to leave them behind. I wonder if I would be able to meet these men, shake their hand and honestly ask how they are without the parade of emotions behind my eyes.
I would love to have my self of twenty years ago (ambitious, energetic, passionate), my current self (exhausted, weary, ready to give up), and my future self (who is a mystery), sit us all down at a table and have a conversation. Perhaps my daughter could host a conversation between us:
“Older Steves, what would you wish the younger Steve to have done differently?”
“Young Steve, do you approve of the changes the older Steves made?”
“Youngest and Oldest Steve, do you feel the middle Steve to be a coward? A weakling? Too easy to give up? Or do you think he is brave in some way?”
“Middle Steve, do you resent the younger Steve? Do you admire the oldest Steve? Or the other way around?”
Perhaps all three of us would end up in some pacifist fistfight.