I haven’t meant for my blog to be mostly about cameras and photography this year, but that’s certainly how it’s turned out.
I normally write all summer about my road trips, but with temperatures routinely in the 100s it’s just been too darned hot. I made my recent Dandy Trail trip in that kind of heat and while my car’s air conditioner mostly kept up, I wilted within minutes every time I stepped out of the car for a photo. That wasn’t any fun. I hope it cools off soon so I can hit the road again.
I used to write a lot about my faith, but since leaving my church last year I’ve felt unsettled and just haven’t had anything to say. My sons and I visited several churches before settling on a suburban congregation of about 400. The main reason we left our last church was because there were no other teenagers there and my sons had become disengaged, so we were glad to find a big, busy youth group.
I was also looking to make friends and become part of a faith community. I was in leadership at my last church, and it was difficult to be friends with people I was shepherding. I have been very hungry for reciprocal relationships with other Christians.
We attended the new church for ten months and even became members there a few months ago, but we never made any connections there. The biggest reason, I think, is that they rely on home groups and youth group meetings for relationship building, and almost all of these activities happen at times we can’t attend because of the parenting schedule I share with my ex-wife. For example, almost all home groups meet Sunday evenings at 6 pm. The weekends my sons are here, their mom picks them up at 7 pm, while the group is in full swing. I found one group that met early Sunday afternoons, and was amused to find it filled with divorced adults. None of us, it turns out, could make the normal home group time work because of our parenting schedules. We felt like refugees! But our group didn’t gel and attendance was poor. I kept hoping I’d make some connections in Sunday school or after worship, but in the large gathering people gravitated to their established relationships. Most of the time the boys and I were left standing alone as friends around us caught up with each other.
These seemed to be good people; we just didn’t fit. So we are again searching for a church.
My desire to make friends was underscored in April when my brother moved to Utah to take a job. I didn’t realize until he was gone how much I had come to rely on him as a companion. I’m pretty introverted and I need plenty of alone time to keep my batteries charged. But I also need occasional companionship, especially with people who really know me, and my brother was filling most of that need. My two closest friends live in Terre Haute and South Bend, too far away to casually ring on a Saturday night to see if they’d like to meet and catch up. So I was doubly hoping to make friends in church.
My job has continued to be very difficult and take most of my energy. I could write a long post about everything that’s happened, but it’s hard to do that without talking about confidential stuff. I’m handling the stress better than before, but it remains intense and draining. My co-workers are noticing that I’m tired and unhappy.
In the past, when work stayed this difficult this long I have simply found another job. Even though the country is still recovering from its long recession, where I live there’s nearly full employment in my line of work. It’s hard to find experienced workers to fill open positions. I’m sure that if I worked my network and circulated my resume I’d find something sooner rather than later. But something deep inside me is telling me that this time I need to push hard and not give up. Doing that is certainly stretching me and making me stronger. Moreover, some of the things we’re working on have the potential to be the new pinnacle of my career if we achieve them.
And of course, I’m still raising sons. I don’t write much about them because they have some right not to have their dad blab about their lives to the entire Internet. So just assume the usual challenges of raising teenagers, with the time and energy that takes.
Oh, and did I mention that I was elected president of the Historic Michigan Road Association? This organization grew out of the grassroots effort I helped lead that got Indiana’s Michigan Road named a Historic Byway. Our near-term goals are to win 501(c)(3) status with the IRS, find funding sources, and get guide signs erected all along the route. Sadly, this keeps getting short shrift with everything else on my plate. I worry that I’m letting the board down.
And so I have simply lacked the energy to do the kind of introspection that used to be a hallmark of this blog. I miss it terribly.
Fortunately, when I have a short burst of free time, it is very easy to drop a roll of film into and old camera and go out to take a few photographs. I can usually write a few easy words about the photos and make a post out of it. That’s how I’m keeping the blog going. It’s also how I’m keeping me going, as it’s something I do just for myself. The pleasure of it restores me.
It’s also turned Down the Road into primarily a photo blog. It’s not supposed to be. When my life is in balance again, so will this blog be.