Many of you faithful readers told me you enjoyed my guest post on Kent's blog, and also that you enjoyed reading Kent's writing once there. To complete the story swap circle, my new travel friend has written a piece for my blog as well, about a mutual friend we made while at the hostel in Taos. I hope you enjoy, and that you go back for more travel writing goodness at http://nomadicbytes.wordpress.com/!
On the second day of my Taos stay, I met Erik. Of all the enchanting folks at the Abominable Snow Mansion, his handshake came last. Leaving Taos, post his bear hug, I realized I'd saved the best for last. Defined as much by his silver Ringo Starr hairstyle as the mischievous glint in his eye, his contrarian comments, the rolling tobacco in his lap, his snaggle-toothed grin, and the coffee cup chronically in hand, Erik's 6'3" lanky figure and English-as-a-second language accent painted a character with a broken mold.
We'd gotten to know each other between communal hostel meals consisting of homemade goat cheese, southwestern kimchee, tortilla chips, rice, and steamed red cabbage -- not your mother's kitchen, but delicious nonetheless. He'd heard I was writing about my travels and, having no current aim, he gave it a gander. I was feeling rather proud of myself when I turned in for the evening with Erik still eye's deep in Nomadic Bytes.
The following evening, Erik and I found ourselves having the run of the lodge. He bemoaned the fact that he'd never be able to write "his story" as well as I write. My ears turned barn red, but inspiration overcame my embarrassment and I offered to write it for him if it'd help his story see daylight. Lit up like a firefly, he emphatically agreed.
Preamble concluded, this is Erik's Story: "The Divine 2X4s", and my first attempt at biography's cousin, a biographical sketch:
|Erik at the Snowmansion hostel|
16 years after starting my life's work, it was over. Bled dry by faceless, overseas developers' names and voices, my dream of creating a software platform to manage supply chains came to a bankrupt, abrupt halt. I'd unwittingly put my faith and capital in unscrupulous business men who strung me out like a predatory fortune teller failing to deliver any value. I'd taken my first divine 2x4 to the head, and it hurt no less, reducing me to a pile of burning rubble. If I were a spry spring chicken perhaps I could have recovered -- but I wasn't, and I didn't.
Almost simultaneously, the second divine 2x4 catapulted my freeze-dried ego into orbit: my wife, the love of my life left me. My livelihood stolen and my best friend gone, I spiraled, wallowing in self-absorbed pity until I went to the doctor who walloped me with the third divine 2x4: cancer. Beyond orbit, I went into another solar system, free-wheeling on the edge of sanity. I'd like to say this was the bottom. In Hollywood it would have been, since directors know their audiences get turned off at too much suffering. But unfortunately, my reality read more like the Book of Job.
Having no money meant having no alternative and into chemotherapy I went -- it was the only option funded by the state. The chemotherapy did it's job, but without the hairless, digestive tract symptoms that typically walk hand and in hand with the chemical treatment. Call me lucky or an odd duck -- you may have called me both already. As opposed to the other wheelchair strapped chemo patients, I found myself waltzing around the hospital with a whistle between my lips, baring a smile for every soul I passed. I still don't know if it it was genuine happiness or insanity born from dating the witches of fate.
Being stuck in a prison bed, I mean hospital bed, for months, my boredom was kept at bay by scouring the internet, letting curiosity, ever the wily coyote, lead me by its trickster ways. Throughout my life and the ordeal thus far, I'd maintained my atheist belief system, but synchronicity reared it's circular head and I kept running into a spiritual blog. A greater reality began to dawn on me: the universe clearly had some reason for keeping a broke, lonely, cancer survivor around. In my greatest act of courage, born by my budding faith, I surrendered to the divine...and the divine within me grew, competing with the cancer for space.
Until now, the creditors had been kept at bay by my cancer -- the last morsel of humanity in big business, I suppose. As the cancer worked into remission, I silently wished for more time to avoid facing their music. Be careful what you wish for! The fourth, and thankfully final, divine 2x4 struck, making itself known by a 25% loss of my body weight. A surgery during the cancer process had been bungled, not allowing me to digest food. Had it been diagnosed before I ate a quarter of myself, it would not have been so bad. A second surgery and more hospital time corrected the mistakes of the first surgery and I recovered, both my weight and from the cancer.
Now convinced I'd been kept alive for some divine purpose, I followed a hunch, with the help of a financial gift from a friend, to Mexico where Les Visible, the author of the spiritual blog that had ignited my spark was holding a conference. What held the promise of tomorrow couldn't withstand the trials of today: too many chiefs with too few squaws and the scene melted dow -- a different drama story for another time though.
Having no better place to go, I made for New Mexico where now I sit, and have since February, waiting for what's next. A broke, single survivor am I and I'm grateful for each day I continue on my path -- I know it has a meaning even if I'm not aware of it yet. Here I am, just waiting.
Read an inspiring piece by Les Visible: here
I'm blessed to have had the opportunity to put this story on screen. Perhaps it'll be the opposite of a 2x4 for Erik on his path. Regardless, he's a kind, big souled man and I wish him all my best in discovering his divine purpose on our planet -- I wish you all the best too.
|Kent ordering at the Solar Ice Cream Bus at the Rio Grande River Gorge|