Tag Archives: awareness

Look Out for Yourself

“Skander, the most important thing is that you look out for yourself, because no one else is going to do it for you.'”
(quote attribution withheld out of respect for the speaker)

…and sometimes the people whom you hope look out for you, simply can’t.

In general, I try pretty hard not to make enemies in life. Despite my best efforts, I’ll be leaving a few behind in this city. Clearing my life out of this city, I haven’t exactly included time for making amends. Today I stand humbled as new information sheds light on a situation I didn’t understand and in which I didn’t play my cards right. And in which I found I made an enemy. Maybe I should make amends, but maybe I haven’t because I’m not sure it’s mine to do. I’ll need to keep a careful eye over my shoulder as a result. Welcome to being an adult Skander.

To the person in today’s item- I publicly and sincerely apologize for my lack of foresight and lack of sensitivity.
To the others for whom I have failed to make amends- it is likely we are past apologies. Thank you for your lessons, for sharing this life together such that we might learn from each others mistakes. Thank you for any measure of forgiveness you may be able to offer.

A Totally Different Picture

As I often do when I have a long way to drive and an empty seat in the car, I offer folks a ride via Craigslist rideshare.  It’s a great way to help me save on gas, help someone else get a cheap ride, and have some company for a long drive.  Most folks I meet work low income jobs, are underemployed, or students, but almost all of them are friendly and reasonable.  Sometimes we talk a lot, sometimes very little- I don’t feel compelled to talk to anyone, but I find that the people who get in my car often come from such totally different circumstance than myself that talking with them helps me really understand the humanity of my world much better.  An artist from Seattle, a brick-layer in Salt Lake City, a line cook in San Francisco.  I’ve given rides to dozens of people at this point, but the drive from Spokane to Portland was unique.

I picked up Reta (not her real name) at a reasonable looking hotel near the highway, and instantly my prejudice kicked off- “crazy person, oh boy.”  She had a guitar, some plastic bags, and an oddly loaded luggage rack/backpack combination, and after loading this in the car I quickly realized she was homeless.  While I steered us back to the highway, the first questions out of her mouth revolved around smoking regulations for various substances and whether or not I could help her find any marijuana in Portland.  I was battling a fierce cold, and had already been driving for 3 hours.  I wasn’t in the mood to play therapist but after a few hours of quiet, the conversation seemed to open up and I found someone with a totally different picture of what life looked like. I dropped her off with the Occupy Portland folks, she gave me the gas money that we agreed on, and I went to stay with friends for the evening.

I’ve spent the past few days frustrated with myself because even after paring down my possessions in March (before putting them in storage), I have too much junk and there is no way most of it is going to fit in the back of my Jetta.  I went to Missoula and made friends on day one.  I have the option of pursuing whatever it is I feel like doing with my life.  I am privileged.  When Reta got in my car, all of her worldly belongings fit easily in one side of the trunk.  She was going to Portland because it was someplace she could get high.  Hope was foreign, friends were uncommon, and life consists of getting by (and getting high) by any means necessary.  Apparently, Reta used to have a family.  She used to do body work and massage.  She used to work in a chiropractic clinic.

It was a sobering and valuable experience.  I may fall flat on my face in moving to Missoula, but even then it’s hard to picture myself in Reta’s shoes.  There is a totally different picture of life out there, and it reminds me to be grateful for an incredible family, friends, opportunity, and education.

Portland #3: Lessons

After an unexpected full week in Montana, I drove back to Portland today.  The time in Missoula was just what I was looking for, and it’s exciting to say: I’ve found housing and a new community that seems to welcome me with open arms.  This time, the trip to Portland isn’t returning to home, but rather to bring my sense of home to Missoula.  Yep, that’s right, I’m moving- now that I’ve published it on the blog, I’m committed.

Typical Missoula sunset. Awesome.

When I decided to come back from South America, I knew I wanted to be in a smaller community.  I want to know my neighbors, live close to the outdoors, and try something different.  I don’t have a job lined up there, and I only have a few months of savings left, but somehow this simply feels like the right thing to do.

Where else can two adults have a perfectly stellar time riding a carousel without anyone raising an eyebrow? (Thanks for Hannah for a fun outing!)

More than just my belongings, I look forward to bringing many important lessons with me from Portland to Missoula.

  • Be discerning about the people you spend your time with- your friends an excellent mirror for your character and direction in life.
  • In business, accountability is all that really matters.  Accountability=integrity=success.
  • Live your life on your terms and no one else’s- you are an adult, and you get to make the call on what that looks like.
  • Success is looking back with no regrets, and knowing the next thing you do will be the best thing yet.

I arrived tonight feeling very under the weather, so this post is shorter than I’d like.  Suffice to say it felt hard and scary to think of moving my stuff out of here, of leaving regular contact with so many wonderful friends behind.  This next step feels like the greatest adventure yet, and that doesn’t come without some discomfort.  I’ll look forward to seeing many people in my next few visits (I’m making two trips PDX<–>MSO), please be in touch if you are here in PDX.  A few photos from the week:

Even better than my beloved New Seasons...

Even Miss Rasa (daughter of my friends Jeremy and Crissie) gets involved with the recycling effort.