In the days ahead, we will talk more about endings, about losses. But today I am thinking about starting, starting over, starting fresh.
There are times in our lives we all wish we could just press the reset button and start something again – a career, a relationship, a habit or two… But such restarts are always easier said than done. To make a significant course change takes considerable courage/energy and introduces significant risk of the unknown into one’s life. Often it is a case of the devil we know versus the devil we don’t – and most of the time the old devil beats the new one.
But there are those rare and intense times when life forces such a radical change upon us. In my case it was the death of a beloved wife, followed four years later by the loss of our home and business.
In the case of Larissa’s death, it was a complete shock. Our life together was incredible. We both kissed a lot of frogs to get to when and where we finally met, but when we did, we knew what we had found and treasured it deeply. The details of this we will explore another day. But suffice it to say that we knew how rare it was. This made the depth of the shock beyond what I ever thought might be bearable. We had become so intertwined that it was difficult to know where one of us ended and the other began. It is not until there is such a complete loss such as death, when a harsh light is shed on exactly where those points were and are. It leaves the survivor bare to the reality that many of the accomplishments you thought were your own were in fact the doings of your lost partner.
But it is in such a harsh environment that a restart is unavoidable. You can’t just go on as before. Though at the same time all the counselors were telling me not to change direction or make big decisions – to just stay the course for a while. Our course, now my course, was to build Kipuka, our big life project at the time of Lari’s death. We were creating an off-grid, eco resort on the big island of Hawaii. So I followed the advice and just stuck to the plan.
And as time and the project progressed I was engaged in lots of activities that were new and rewarding, and just keeping busy probably helped make the time pass more smoothly. And when I opened Kipuka to the public over Thanksgiving 2015, the focus of my life changed again as I transitioned from builder to hotelier and gardener. But the entire time I was still living in the house, sleeping in the room, where Lari had died. Over the following years the business grew nicely and customers and press loved Kipuka. But I could not escape the fact I was still living in the same hose, and sleeping in the same room, where Lari died. I needed a new environment and new challenges. But because there was no gun to my head, I did not put everything behind my efforts to sell up and move on.
Fast forward to June 2, 2018. Kipuka is burried under 10 meters of molten rock. The gun was not only put to my head. The trigger had also been pulled.
There is a lot more to say between that day and this one, but I feel I have taken too long already to get the the point of this which is restarting. The key part of that word being START.
To my way of thinking, the big START does not happen until there is a big STOP that makes room for it. In my case there were more than two BIG stops. This left me plenty of room.
There is a lot of restarting going on in my life right now:
- Moved from Hawaii to Southern California
- Sold everything that was left of my life in Hawaii
- Made a hash out of some of the most important relationship in my life at the time, just when I needed them most
- Sold everything I couldn’t carry in California
- Moved from Southern California to Italy
But now the pace of restart is getting a bit more sensible. In fact, there are only two big restarts going on right now and that is more thsan enough:
- Get settled and make this house a home
- Think carefully and act purposefully in terms of creating a new line of work
The first of these two is well in hand. I have a lengthy to do list of big and small tasks but the essentials are I place and I am confident we will be fine for the winter. The second one is a bigger challenge. I have a few ideas, but not yet 100% convinced I have found a clear path forward. Self employment if often like that. There are seldom slam dunks. And my diminished situation post volcanic eruption puts further pressure on what is already a big challenge — restart a working life at 58 from scratch.
But there are also smaller, more subtle restarts underway. Now that I have a kitchen again, I am cooking and that brings me great joy indeed. And related to that, I am preparing to start making bread again. For most of the time Lari and I were married, I had a sourdough starter and baked bread at least two or three times per week. Well, the day after Cosmo and I arrived, I made another starter from scratch.
The process is simple and ancient – mix equal portions of water and flour and whisk into a batter. Cover with a cloth and leave in a warmish room. Within a day or two it will start to bubble. Whisk it again with more flour and water. The bubbling is the natural yeasts in the air setting up camp in the batter and consuming its sugars. Over time the natural yeasts and bacteria in the air make the flavor of the starter become more complex. Every day or two it is necessary to ‘feed’ the starter. Why? Because you are starting life and life needs food.
So this creation of a bread starter is a very symbolic thing for me. New life is created and growing. I am caring for it and helping it grow. In return it will help me make bread, the staff of life itself. All of this being perhaps the most ancient form of fabricated food. I love the ancient roots, the starting and nurturing of new life, and the fact that it gives to me and sustains me as well.
This is a true start.