Life has taught me to be on guard for the possibility that what is can become no longer and what is not can become.
After being diagnosed, in 2012, with advanced glaucoma, I was forced, at age 52, into early retirement and was granted Social Security Disability Insurance. The severe drop in income made it impossible to remain in my hometown, Santa Barbara, California, an inherently beautiful, tourist destination known for its affluence and culture. To the right, is a group photo of us parents at our children’s middle school graduation party from The Waldorf School Of Santa Barbara.
With sadness, I moved nine hours North, leaving behind my two grown children, twenty-two-year-old Jacob, eighteen-year-old, Emily and Emily‘s newborn son, my first-born grandson, Damian.
The sudden and unexpected destruction of my world was shocking and heartbreaking. My younger brother, who currently was making a move to the Philippines, offered me a unit to rent in his duplex located eight hours North of Santa Barbara in the city of Merced. What I did not know was that Merced was a neglected city in economic decline, void of culture, civility, and was listed as seventh of fifteen cities with the highest crime rate per capita in the United States. After arriving in Merced, my reaction was an immediate and full state of culture shock. After three weeks, I asked my brother why the neighborhood kids were always lighting firecrackers when July was months away? “It’s gunfire but it was worse a few years ago,” he responded with a nonchalant attitude.
The photo below to the left is my neighborhood. In the photo with me is Buddy who I bought from a homeless woman panhandling at Walmart. Buddy, who was a puppy, was inside her backpack. The photo, to the right, is me visiting the home of a woman I met at the dog park, she also has a pet pig. Since we have become good friends and for that I am thankful.
Now beginning my fourth year in Hell, USA, I can say never in my life would I think to witness the violence I have, gang graffiti sprayed painted on home owner’s garage doors, streets that are not swept clean, alleys that are used as dumping grounds, and packs of dogs running around without collars. However, as Darwin wrote, for a species to survive it must be able to adapt to its changing environment. Being that I am still breathing, I can thank my dysfunctional childhood for developing that survival skill.
Adversity, I have now learned, can arrive disguised as an opportunity. Early retirement has afforded me an abundance of leisure. I have developed several new passions that I would never have known, such as creating videos to support animal and political causes, working with photographs, debating in Philosophy Forums, sharing with Facebook friends residing in many countries and most pleasurable writing about My Categorized Life.