My life has faded to a burning ember. The fire that blazed through two marriages and service as a union leader has largely gone out as the losses piled up. My first night homeless on that park bench I gazed at the stars in wonder at the destruction I visited upon my life. Surely it was soon to be over.
My life didn't end there. I continued to stoke this dying ember of a life and refused to regret taking a stand despite the cost. But I am weary of stoking and striving and stressing about returning to the street. I dream of an escape: The Moon and Sixpence.
Five years ago as I languished in the unemployment line I read a book that changed my perspective. In The Moon and Sixpence W. Somerset Maugham writes of Charles Strickland, a character resembling the artist Paul Gauguin. Gauguin left it all behind for a life in the South Seas and created art that will endure for eternity. He did not endure so long but at least for those moments his fire burned brightly.
I long for that same experience to live out my final days in a beautiful place, poor and desperate but free to write poetry and create art and burn brighly right up to the moment the fire goes out. If I am to be poor and desperate better live the poetic life and be an epic soul rather than struggling and surviving and dying a failure here.
As my unemployment benefits disentigrated so did I. On my first day homeless writing saved my life as I wrote about the experience and was invited here to Statesville, North Carolina. But the dream to escape continued. I ran for city council losing the race but winning the city workers a bonus. Now I work two jobs and plan my escape but this time less to die than to live in a new place.
That place is Vietnam. How ironic after working for the AFL-CIO and going to Poland and Romania to support our union brothers and sisters there I find myself returning to a similar place and hoping the governmet lets me in.
I plan to marry and have a new family and create art and I hope a space for artists to sojourn and create art in a peaceful place Phu Quoc Island. With the support of friends I will go there next year. I am certain the fire will burn brightly once again so I will work and stoke so I can survive and thrive.
The power of art, the power of literature is miraculous. One book finds its way into my bloodstream and I am healed. All my struggles and losses led me to this moment. It is time to live again.
To read more about my plans click here: