I am currently getting over the flu. I was in the middle of working on Tempor 03 feverishly, nearing the dreaded revision part of the process of over some fifty thousand words, afraid of what I have written, not wanting to read it—of what to omit or tweak, or what I still needed to add. I was just reminded of a part of the trip in the early evening coming into South Dakota out in the middle of nowhere, with the car popping and clicking in the sub-zero weather. We snaked over the hilly roads at dusk through a dim magenta-violet landscape, with the silhouettes of ghostlike elk in the distance. Periodically, I could see the silhouettes cross the black of the road, becoming invisible then emerging from the opposite side of the black stripe. Instead of paying attention to the highway, you had to invert your level of importance given to the road, only looking for lights while at the same time give most of your attention to the moving black masses crossing into your field of view, as the elk were going to be invisible once they were directly in your path. There could be a 700 lb. animal stopped in the road and you would not see it until it was too late to stop on the icy road. It was a little too much to process, so my focus collapsed on what I could focus on: the edges between the white snow and the black road, a mental contrast map of the scene and how those edges changed as we were snaking through the landscape.
This experience probably won't be included in the next issue, and there are many of these experiences for us, either because we couldn't stop and document or for whatever reason. The elk came back to me in a fever dream while having the flu late last week. Namely, the subtle hues and values a camera would have difficulty recording in the way I perceived it in the quick fading northern light. I vividly remember it but would have trouble reproducing it. I was thankful for the recollection of that experience as both my son and I were miserably sick. I am also grateful for things in my life that could be described in the “taken for granted” variety. For the first time in my adult life I have health insurance, so a trip to the doctor is not seen with such anxiety of inflated costs between the visit and the medications. As a child, I was taught to view doctor visits as something that was only for a severe illness, as medical visits were far too expensive to be for preventative reasons. A flu shot rarely happened, and I can count on one hand, easily, the number of times I was bedridden with a serious illness. I can also count on one hand, parents who found out they had a life-terminating ailment that could have easily been prevented with a doctor check-up.
Weirdly enough, I got the flu precisely ten years ago, right here in Florida. I was horribly sick for a full week just before we moved to Houston to traverse a decade of opportunities, missed and made. I left remembering all the events that had happened, the times I was ignorant and unprepared that led into painful walks into the buzzsaw and the time it took to get over the heartache of past mistakes. I don’t think I will ever be over all of the mistakes I have made, but I am sure that I have learned from them and am relieved that some of the stress to finally be lifted so that our family can move on and be better for the insight gained from our mistakes.
I am welcoming an opportunity to place some of the adaptations we have made in the adversity in the back burner so that we can focus on the things that do matter, namely our son, our journal, our work, and our lives. We jettisoned everything that was cluttering our thoughts and now living spartan, ready to grow into the next ten years of our life, in a new location with new thoughts. I have found a normalizing routine of taking my son to school that we can finally afford; I bring my wife to her new job that allows us to be less stressed and healthier, able to handle getting sick and pay down old debts; I then drive to a place and focus on looking for opportunities and writing for Tempor.
Research and production are challenging, and these days I value any opportunity that comes up for me to work on this publication. For me, a value I have in this endeavor is to attempt to suppress fabricated anxieties about what I am responsible for providing and for what reasons. I watched my dad and stepdad work for things that were marketed to them as what they were to provide, these days I am critical of my role, knowing all I wanted as a son was to spend more time with my dad, that when he did come home, he wasn't so angry or tired. And I certainly wish I wasn't there to be a contracted employee for him, watching his cycle of struggle and failure chasing something that wasn't there.
Those experiences with those two men frame my current perspective with my child. I suspect that my son wants me happy and present. My parents had a difficult time with either attribute, being preoccupied with adult anxieties and responsibilities. As I travel into the expanse of my adulthood, I am thankful for my ability to see many of these adult responsibilities are made up and imaginary. My only responsibility is towards my wife and son by asking a more passive question, "will whatever I end up doing with my life be a beneficial addition to his experiences?" rather than the authoritarian, “is this what’s best for him?” The latter a statement allows the worst form of confirmation bias, clouding the judgment of what in fact matters, his identity and his experiences with his family. I will attempt to wait calmly for opportunities in which we can provide him with meaningful experiences.
Managing Editor & Art Director