The changes keep coming and my ADHD brain grabs each new change as positive evidence of the truth -- even though it completely contradicts the truth I was desperately holding onto two minutes ago.
by Frank South
“I still don’t know what I was waiting for, and my time was running wild, a million dead-end streets. Every time I thought I’d got it made, it seemed the taste was not so sweet. So I turned myself to face me. But I’ve never caught a glimpse of how the others must see the faker. I’m much too fast to take that test -- Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.” -- David Bowie, “Changes”
Last week, my wife, Margaret, and I sat down after a month of changes in the family dynamic, both in our immediate gang here in Hawaii, and also in both sides of our extended family back on the mainland. Margaret says she thinks we should pack up and move back to the mainland.
She was right -- our parents and siblings needed us back there, and our kids needed to be reconnected with their extended family, as well. I told Margaret that it seemed to me like we’d been nurturing our children in clay plots in the greenhouse, and now it was time to transplant them back to their home turf. Okay, not the best analogy, but I was floundering -- trying to find the justification for uprooting everybody in the first place.
Ten years ago, I convinced my wife and kids to move out here, into the middle of the Pacific, to the most remote land mass on earth -- convinced that living away from everything and everybody we knew was the best thing that could happen to us. Hawaii has a different culture, less people, and far less distractions -- which is important when you’re re-inventing yourself.
Looking back, it was a pretty selfish decision to push on my wife and kids, but I was still in the process of accepting my adult ADHD, hypomania, alcoholism, and all the rest. So maybe it was for the best.
Anyway, we struggled making a living, but we took the advice of a friend on the island and did our best to give whatever we could to the community and we grew into a deep and rewarding life here. In spite of -- or because of -- our precarious finances, our two kids flourished in paradise, and Margaret jumped into teaching literacy and story structure to children and adults. And I, I think, became a more thoughtful and honest man. In many ways, my life in Hawaii helped heal me and my relationship with my family.
So, maybe I can avoid being crushed by a twenty-ton wet bag of guilt that would send me into a month-long bout of self-hating craziness. That would be good.
But the changes keep coming, my mental wobbling commences, and my ADHD brain grabs each new change as positive evidence of the truth -- even though it completely contradicts the truth I was desperately holding onto two minutes ago.
Today, back on the east coast, my father is in surgery and I’m sitting by the phone, waiting to hear, powerless to be there to help -- moving back is a good decision. Margaret is suddenly being recruited for an important job here -- maybe the decision was too hasty. My daughter swears that if we change our mind, she’ll move back to be with her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins by herself -- moving back is a good decision. My client likes the video project I made and wants me to do more in partnership -- maybe the decision was too hasty. It’s way cheaper to live in Georgia than Hawaii and we’re all cracking under the constant money pressure -- moving back is a good decision. We’ve developed deep friendships and meaningful community connections in Hawaii and I really like it here, damn it -- maybe the decision was too hasty.
In the end, whether I can personally make up my mind or not -- and I never can about anything, ever -- the decision is simple for two reasons.
1) Hawaii reaffirmed in us the value of giving, and now it’s time to give to our family -- the people who have always, without question, given to us.
2) If Margaret wants to move back, that’s good enough for me.
So, as usual, love clears the path. And come the end of the school year in June, we’re pulling ourselves out of our lovely clay pots here and planting ourselves in the rich family dirt back home.