Map out your future – but do it in pencil.
~ Jon Bon Jovi ~
The ashes of a cone of incense, burned two days ago, remain on the corner of my desk, proof of my indolence—I should have disposed of the remnants of that incense long before now. If I did not know otherwise, I would think the cone was ready to be lit, appearing as it does—perfectly conical and solid. But if I touched it, it would collapse into a mound of fine dust. I know I will have to light a new, truly solid, cone when I want to unleash a torrent of soothing scents.
Truth is everybody is going to hurt you: you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for.
~ Bob Marley ~
People, sadly, can be like that cone of burned incense. A person can appear confident, happy, and completely “together.” But if something touches a raw nerve or triggers a painful memory, that illusory image can dissolve like smoke, evidence that the smoldering embers of an emotional fire have consumed him. Unlike that cone of incense, the person cannot be discarded and replaced with a new one—one suitable for burning. Yet that sort of thing happens all too frequently. When someone’s attitudes or behaviors suggest burning embers inside them, people around them step away to avoid getting scorched. From a safe distance, they watch as the fire depletes the fuel, leaving only an empty shell.
Living, as I do, in a perpetual state of fantasy, I spend considerable time exploring “what— ifs.” One of yesterday’s “what ifs” involved living in Toms River, New Jersey. Toms River is one of the most affordable towns in New Jersey, right on the Jersey shore. The climate there is much more temperate and livable than much of the interior of the state; winter lows are easily tolerable and summer highs generally are comfortable. Housing there is considerably more expensive than Hot Springs Village, of course, but it is not really outlandish. Unless, of course, you want waterfront property. If you do, you have to be willing to pay for houses that have been raised up on pilings to avoid future catastrophic floods—like the one that devastated the town during Hurricane Sandy. Aside from the possibility of drowning in a hurricane-driven surge of Atlantic Ocean waters, living in Toms River, New Jersey seems to have a number of positives, though many of them are due to the proximity of other places, rather than the city itself. As I examined aspects of Toms River, I came again to the realization that almost anyplace is livable, under the right circumstances. Everyplace has its pros and cons. One must simply adapt to cultural nuances that might be unfamiliar and uncomfortable. I’ve done that before…many times. I adapted quite well to living in Chicago. I adapted quite well to living in and around White Plains, New York and Greenwich, Connecticut—though, granted, living in those places for less than a year, combined, and traveling away from them on business quite frequently gave me limited time to “adapt.” Regardless, though, my experience suggests I am at least reasonably adaptable.
The reason I explored Toms River is that I was curious about which states had the largest percentage of people who consider themselves either liberal/progressive or moderate. New Jersey was among states identified as leaning liberal (though Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, and Massachusetts had higher numbers). A search of lower cost of living states led me to the Jersey shore. The entirety of New England and the upper Atlantic coast leans liberal, which suggests to me the political environment might be easier on my psyche than most places…in the USA. I still think I belong in Canada or Norway or Denmark, though. The fact is that I probably live today where I will live in five years and ten years and twenty years if I’m still alive. Though that means I’ll be around people who matter to me, in another sense it saddens me to think I will not give myself a chance to evolve in a different climate…both weather and social. Oh, well. Time will tell whether I’ll be here and/or alive in five years. Time tells us all we need to know.