On the car ride home from work through driving rain. And the wipers are slapping. Left one needs replacing, the one I'm looking through now.

It has to be some kind of joke that the only route that will take you to the VA Hospital requires driving directly through the cemetery. What kind of ill person can bear to watch the headstones get younger as he drives east and east for what seems like miles until the field thins out and is suddenly empty, plots already bought and reserved and ready for occupancy. The scattered ones in this sparse section seem lonely, waiting for time to fill in the empty spaces. You buy early enough, and the neighborhood will already be full when you arrive. Just waiting for you to make it complete.

And maybe this is just a kind of gift that stabs you- sometimes the old men and their wives just don't get out so often as they'd like. They're going this way anyway... they can check up on their old friends on the way back from their appointments.

And when I get home, I should have expected that the stack of books I left out for her will be scattered, pages laying open, and bindings of first editions newly cracked. And also that the book under her crooked elbow, as she snores in my underwear, and on top of my new sheets, will not be from that pile, but the one orphan she found pushed back and dusty on top of the case. Some ten year old ink in my handwriting that somehow escaped the dustbin and many moves of house.

And when I take the book from her, she won't stir, because it's been that kind of day for both of us. And despite our grandest plans, I will join her in the sweet kind of sleep, the new kind that I learned about when she started sharing pillows with me.

I'm giving up on the writing until the end of the semester, about three months from now. It's a tactical retreat, I hope. I'm finding the stuff I'm studying tough going, and not passing would make things very difficult for me, study has to come first.

So it goes.

Years and years ago I finished uni and qualified as a high school teacher.

It was actually a stupid course of action on my part, from my first round as a student teacher it had been very clear that I couldn't teach.

I didn't give up easily. I worked as a teacher in lots of different places, but everywhere it was the same. The kids could see I was far more lost and insecure than any of them were. I was just not constructed to be an authority figure, let alone a literature teacher. I kept on getting the urge to tell them they couldn't learn much from me and if they really wanted to learn about literature and writing then they should try reading books.

Instead I told them that today we were going to get into groups and make a list of five key themes from chapter three, and that we were going to find a quote to illustrate each one.

I was becoming everything I didn't want to be.

The students reacted differently in different places, in China they just sat there and looked kind of lost, in the gritty badlands of South London they actually threw stuff at me, hard.

Everywhere I taught, at least once, one of my students would look at me and, with complete conviction, tell me that I wasn't a real teacher. That usually got them sent to sit outside the classroom, although of course their real sin had been getting way too close to the trush.

The last straw came six months ago. I went away to India for Christmas and against my better judgement came back home to take up a job I'd landed as a high school English teacher at a posh private school.

I guess I let Mum and Dad talk me into taking it, they really are wonderful people who just want the best for me and, kind of adrift in the world, I let them guide me places I know I'd be better off not going.

I lasted all of three weeks.

After that the aim of the game was to get a 9 to 5 job. The dream was of a desk in an office and a pile of forms to stamp and file away or whatever it is people do in offices. For years and in many places I'd heard people bitching about how bored they were at work, and it sounded like paradise to me. I saw myself catching the tram to the office, making my perfunctionary eight hour contribution to some pointless task, then walking over the road to a cafe and doing what mattered to me, writing. I would make enough to live in a share house, I would make enough to live my life, I would have been able to plan for the future and interact with my fellow human beings.

They say there's full employment. I have two bachelors degrees and a whole heap of other stuff you'd think would qualify me to push papers round an office. 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, somewhere with public transport- these were my demands, and it wasn't happening.

I've worked in Israel, India, China, England, Indonesia and like to try write and novels in my spare time. I am obviously a raging eccentric. I think most of my applications ended up in the bin.

They were looking for solid office experience. They were looking for local references who spoke English. There's not a lot of trust out there, and though I know quite a lot I know almost no one at all.

There were very few interviews, no one offered me a job.

Writing these applications was painful. I must have done at least 40 of them. We're not talking about form letters here, these applications were short pieces of literature written in the knowledge they probably wouldn't get read and showing my demonstrated experience in coping with conflict at work etc. etc. etc.

After I had written about twenty of the horrible things and still not heard back from anyone I started to get this terrible urge to just be honest.

'What makes you better suited to this position than the other canidates?' it would go.

'Nothing. I just want to work in an office for eight hours a day so I can take my place as a member of society. PLEASE, JUST GIVE ME A JOB.

But of course I didn't write this. I told them about how I was a dynamic team player who thrived on flexibity. I told them how I was a computer savvy young achiever with exceptional interpersonal skills.

When they asked for a fault I told them I worked too hard.

It ate me up.

The longer it went on, and it went on for months and months, the more I thought back fondly to my time on a Kibbutz. I'd worked in an envelope factory, as a dishwasher, a spud farmer and as the guy who walked around the chicken sheds each morning and picked up the dead birds. In the evening I had my friends and we'd sit round and drink cheap wine and talk, and it was of the very few places where I'd ever been accepted for just being myself. I thought about the hippy commune I lived on in India which was the same sort of thing only with less alcohol and more poverty- it had been a happier time still.

So now I'm back at uni. I've found a course which, I hope, will land me a niche in an office somewhere. I think I'll pass, but these past months have somehow skewed things for me. I could have done any of these jobs I was applying for standing on my head. I applied for dozens of them. I should have got one of them. And if I failed in my lofty quest to be a filing clerk, then maybe I'll fail in my efforts to get this graduate diploma as well.

It'll be right. I know it will be. I'll study till I've got data modelling coming from my ears, but still the worry is there. The fear that I'll never get a job, and hence never manage to establish a life of my own isn't making my existence any happier.

Oh well. I'll get there somehow.

Anyone who does not feel the weight of the battles they face in life and who does not learn from them and through that learning process correct their missteps has lost their connection to the very spirit of their soul. While those battles may play themselves out on a larger or smaller scale, the real battles are fought within.

Believe it or not, after much struggle this year, which led to a stalling in limbo here in North Carolina after my flight from New Hampshire I have gotten my letters of transit from one of the Christines, and not the one I expected, but one who has long been my good friend and sister, one whose given name is Tina but who prefers to go by Kris. Through her I have temporary residency down in Orlando, as soon as I can find myself there.

It may seem strange, and at times seems strange to me, that I have this urgency to return to Orlando. And then I realize, I left for my own reasons, to pursue something I was convinced was somehow a reward for all I had tried to do in following The Path put out before me. In the end, it was a diversion, and by no means a vacation. I chose to follow this side road to its inevitable and horrible conclusion, and I accept full credit for the missteps I made in doing so. Had my ego not demanded I jump into the fire with the belief I could change the course of things that were out of my control, I would have instead stayed in Orlando, which I know now to be my home, and been satisfied with having achieved that I sought to achieve, which was to be back in communication with she who had disappeared from my life for nine years. Instead, ego, pride and vanity demanded I turn it into a rout. This lesson will serve me well on the road ahead.

What do we learn when we allow ourselves to be distracted by dreams of glory and by imagining we can change something that is beyond our control and influence? If we are smart, we learn that retreat and admission of our sins is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. We negotiate our path in life. When we stop negotiating we lose, and this is a pure and simple fact of life. Everything is a negotiation. There is no black and white.

And within this lies many answers. I've had to gently negotiate my way back down to coast from New England to Florida. I could have held onto my pride and vanity and remained in New Hampshire, fought out the battles there and tried to adjust and accept the climate and the shadows of the past, but why do that? There was no reason aside from ego. That is the only reason you continue to fight a losing battle. There is no other reason.

Dispensing with ego and overcoming pride are essential in any real commitment to the journey of life, as clinging to them causes everything to be about a illusory destination rather than the journey itself. Finding peace within the moment and knowledge of every moment you find yourself in is key. In my return to New Hampshire I let my pride convince me there was an end game that was being played out as some kind of reward, as if I deserved a prize. None of us deserve prizes, no matter how a prize is defined. Prizes are illusions, images created in the mind's eye to convince us the reason we do things are to win these prizes. Some accumulate and show off their prizes. Others safeguard them and convince themselves and others they are security for a rainy day. There is no security against the rainy day. That security creates the rainy day because it allows us to fall into stagnation believing we are protected from it as well as somehow deserving the umbrella we built from those prizes. We stop living in the moment, we stop being in the now because we devote so much of ourselves in the present to safeguarding our future and impale ourselves on the two-pronged fork of no longer truly living and then dying within ourselves by living in the security created in the past.

I have been unsettled for sometime, unable to embrace the present as situations have arisen and surrounded me that kept me from achieving peace of mind. This has nothing to do with not preparing myself or embracing the imagined security so many will preach to you about. It had to do with taking steps in hand with ego and pride rather than following what I knew in my soul was the path to be taken. I created my own Hell by allowing, and directing, myself into it. And no matter how many reasonings I came up with to convince myself it was the right path, I always knew it was the wrong one. The easiest way to lose the path and find yourself trapped in the weeds is to convince yourself of things you know are not true.

Having a knowledge and understanding of the meaning of death gives one a different perspective on the meaning of life. Knowledge of the eternal nature of things serves as a reminder that any end games and any objectives in life thought to be an ultimate goal are quite entirely pointless. Every moment is created to exist within the present and any of those moments wasted lamenting the past or dreaming of the future cheats us of the moment that is. I am merely an acolyte and I know nothing, and for this reason I often stumble, but to be any more than nothing is also an illusion and if we stop stumbling and pretend we know more than nothing is to stop learning, and in turn to stop being. Arrogance is the most self-destructive force in this world. It keeps us from negotiating a way to bring life to the moment by walling us up inside the arrogant notion that we can enforce our will, our beliefs, on others. Therein lies destruction.

And I am as guilty of it as anyone. There is no better way I know of to remain human.

For me, to return to Orlando has nothing to do with attempting to reclaim the past, even as I will often tell people that my first two years there were the golden era of my life. It has to do with having left there under such circumstances that I very quickly began to lose my way and wander away from everything I knew, believed and understood, all in order to overcome ghosts from the past. It wasn't about realizing the love between myself and The Former Muse. It wasn't about trying to help her to help herself heal and escape the extremely destructive path she had placed herself on. I wasn't even aware of that aspect of her until months after I had moved back north. It was about me overcoming the last ghost of my past, to serve my ego by using all I had learned and all I had become in order to "win the love" of the girl who had, for twenty years, told me such a thing was impossible.

To return to Orlando is not to erase those two years, just as it is not to reclaim the past. It is about returning to the place I was led to, to place I was told I would find peace and come to understand myself and why I continue to live and exist in this world. It was there I found all these things and more. To return is simply my acknowledgment to myself that I lost my way and I am committed to finding it again.

The way my mind works, this is the only way I can do it. And now, next Thursday, July 26, 2007 I will land again, with the help of some of my old friends, back where I once belonged and now belong again, where I will rebuild the mystery.

The journey holds the meaning, not the destination, and with that in mind, I give all my thanks and more to those who have helped me along the way in this four week long journey... home.

About the time Ruby was reaching the top of K2 I was having my first heart attack.

I remember it well. I had woken up that day with chest pains, the doctor had given me a little blue-white nitro-glycerine spray for under my tongue. It was supposed to expand my heart vessels and so stop any chest pain. Today it wasn’t working. The pains kept coming back. More of them. Longer. More painful. Stings became stabs, and then a pressing weight on my chest. My left arm tingled, and as I blinked and flexed my hand in wonder i notice the pain was coming into my jaw and I decided there and then I should go to the hospital.

Google saved my life.

I used it to find my closest hospital - The Royal London - and then without further ado I picked up my helmet and key, and walked out the door. I remember feeling eerily calm the whole time, I even held the door for a female colleague as she was going out for an early lunch.

Outside grey clouds were gathering, and I could feel the air pressure drop, like just before a storm. My motorbike was parked just outside our offices. I swung my leg over and visualized the route. Near midday. Rush hour. London. It would take 15 mins for the ambulance to come to the offices. Another 15 to get back. 30 mins both ways before a doctor saw me. 10 mins on the bike. Assuming I didn’t die before then, it was a better bet all around.

I kicked away from the pavement; joining the traffic just as the heavens opened.

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