Sleep-deprived in Seattle


Perspective. The final frontier.

No matter how many mind tricks I play on myself (realizing that I count too much coffee and trying to meditate on my couch as mind tricks) there is no substitute for perspective in my personal peace.

And by perspective I mean renting the curtains of domestication asunder and sprinting far away.

I got the chance to visit Seattle last week. I consider anywhere on the West Coast between Monterey and Vancouver my homeland. Pine and salt water are my pills.

Most of the time, after having gotten away for awhile, I doubt the changes. I think no, it’s just that I didn’t have to do the dishes or take kids to various lessons, an obvious break. But it’s more than that for me. Perspective is magic.

Of course I enjoyed all the brewpubs and coffee shops and seafood joints that I could handle, but that’s not what filled me up. Walking the hilly neighborhoods and looking at the sun trying to burn through the marine layer and standing on my balcony on the last day at a straight shot from downtown to Mt. Rainier – it’s endorphin incarnate. But there’s more to it than chemicals.

I will always be West Coast. I will always be NorCal. I will always say hella. As if God slapped down a celestial strip for a thousand miles down the edge of the Pacific, it heals me.

One of my favorite authors, with whom I’ve lost touch in the last couple of years, is Sherman Alexie, a Native writer probably best known for a small film called “Smoke Signals,” if known at all. I don’t know why I have such an interest in Native American culture, but I always have. Maybe the ritual, or what I’ve romanticized as ritual; maybe the struggle, which I know nothing about; or maybe something as trite as my affinity for camping and bow hunting (seldom at the same time). Nonetheless, I seem to findĀ  dichotomous and deep messages when I read about the West, cowboys and Indians alike. Some days I feel like a cowboy, other days an Indian, or I think I do, or I don’t at all. And maybe that’s it – that I just want to know.

Sherman Alexie is from Seattle and I found a lame touristy satisfaction in purchasing one of his books, used, at Pike Place Market in Seattle. Maybe like local seafood it’s the freshest and tastes better. But I got my perspective.

What it adds up to is that it felt like home. Home away from home. Or the room in the home of my mind that is usually closed and the door is stuck so, like the passenger-side slider that’s broken on my van, I just forget about and don’t even try.

The vacation is over and I’ve endured the dreaded “first day back,” but, the thing is, I’ve not only endured that day and several after, I’ve enjoyed them. I don’t resent washing the dishes. I don’t mind taking my kids to lessons. I can see the meaning in it all more clearly. Nothing that getting enough sleep can give me, or regular exercise, or even enough vitamin D. Just perspective. I worry that I will become addicted to getting away, that it will become my crutch, but I see that, if done the right way, it’s not a treatment. It’s a time-released prescription that I simply need to renew every once in awhile.

Make time for vacation. It’s worth it.

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