Friday, January 02, 2009

Crossroads

I have been very contemplative lately. I just celebrated my 44th birthday. And at the end of January, I will celebrate my 5th anniversary of living in the Dominican Republic.

But I have been having this nagging feeling about what next?

That is the question I have been grappling with for the last couple of weeks. Over two months ago I stopped smoking. Cold turkey. I had been trying to lull myself with the sense that if I could just cut down, say to 5 cigarettes a day, then all would be well. That didn't work. I would smoke those five cigarettes and buy 5 more (here you can buy them 1 at-a-time). I knew that I could not have even one cigarette. I kept praying to God to take the craving away. Then one morning I woke up and said that I wasn't going to smoke today. Not really believing it. But I didn't smoke that day. Or the next. And now 2 months later I feel so much better and know that my health will be the better for it.

For the last couple of weeks I have not been drinking alcohol. I have also been trying to eat much more healthily. This is not part of a any New Year's resolutions. I have decided not to do them anymore. For me they never work. This has been a really unconscious effort that came out of not smoking. For some reason I feel like I'm preparing myself for something. I'm just still trying to figure out what.

Several months ago, my dearest friend called to tell me that he had early-onset Alzheimer's. I was completely and utterly devastated by the news. I got off the phone and cried like a baby. He was only 60 years old, how could this be possible? He is the person most responsible for me moving here and following my dream. He did whatever he could to encourage me, prod and push me to take the leap. He even agreed that he would help me form this company I started, Monaga. Though he did not want to be bothered. For months I had been looking for a name. I told everone that I would know it when I heard it. One day my friend (I will use his initials L.A.) jokingly said to me, "why don't you call it Agamon." Didn't like it, but we changed it around and came up with Monaga. When I first said the name I knew that was it. The name Monaga is made up of the first three letters of my last name, and the first three letters of his last name.

Thinking of that phone call from my friend and this thought that I'm really not a part of the "real world." Meaning the world in the United States, I have been thinking about what am I going to with the next 5 years. I was thinking about going back "home" and getting a job and acting like a proper adult. Paying into a 401K, acquiring debt, and just re-joining the rat race. I don't want to do that, but I have this nagging feeling that I should and I don't know why.

Before moving here I used to work at a newspaper for 10 years. Newspapers are a dying breed. So the likelihood that I could go back and work in that industry is not very good. Most of my old colleagues are scared for their jobs and just praying the axe doesn't fall on them. I could go back and go to school, maybe become a nurse. LOL!

I have been also thinking what I learned in the last year, and the lessons have been many. I have learned to hold my friends very close and to tell them how much I love and need them. I have learned that no matter what anyone says about you, it matters more what you think about yourself.

I know this is just a malaise I'm going through. I am still happy here (today) and understand that going "home" is not going to make me "happy." On the contrary, I would be hating the cold so desperately right now. Besides, that means I would have to give up the blog. And no one can keep up with all the shit that goes on here like I can. Okay, that's it, I'm staying. I mean, I should. Right? LOL!

Anyway, I pray that everyone has a happy, healthy, safe and prosperous New Year!

As ever,
The Monaga Blogger

14 comments:

the Allen gallery said...

Happy New Year!

Though you may not see the goal you're aiming for, the steps you're taking now (focusing on health, etc) will prepare you for the next phase.

Experiencing the health decline of people close to us of course makes us think of our own current well being and future health.

I have no doubt your next steps, when ready, will be satisfying and fruitful.

J and I had a great time seeing you and hanging in DR again. Hopefully it won't be so long til our next trip.

Again, Happy New Year. J and I wish you great things for this new year!!

C

John K said...

Anthony, thanks for this thoughtful, reflective post. I'm glad that you've been able to keep up your goal of not smoking and drinking, and of taking care of yourself. You're such a valuable person, and I know I'm not speaking only for Curtis and myself in saying that visiting and spending time in DR would nowhere near as enjoyable as it is were you not there. I totally hear what you're saying about where to go next, especially in light of what your friend is going through and the fact that you've been in DR for 5 years now, and have experienced what can only be described as an amazing stage in your life. My only thoughts would be to continue to think about what you want to do, where you want to go, and how you might get there. You're one of those people who I know can do anything he sets his mind to, as you've proved over the last 5 years, so I'm wishing you the best and look forward to and support anything you choose to do. Wishing you the best always, John

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year, Anthony, and Well, what can I say about your thoughtful, poignant, yet inspiring message?
First of all, congratulations on quitting the smoking. I have not met a single person who, having quit smoking, regretted it. Coupled with diet improvements and reducing alcohol, it will indeed make a big difference to your health, and with that, your mental and spiritual well being. And that, in turn, will help you get through what you’re experiencing.
If someone a generation older than you may be permitted to speak freely, let me say that what you are experiencing is natural for men your age. It’s called male menopause, honey! (LOL) Seriously, we all examine our lives in the most basic way when we get to our forties (half way through our expected lives) and, believe me, it’s almost always for the good. Sure, we see examples of guys who don’t get through the process because they don’t take it seriously, but that’s not you, Anthony.
It may be a challenge marrying your desired life style (tropics) with financial security (USA), and I’m hoping that you can find something that offers a combination of the two. With your background in journalism, your writing capabilities, and your infectious attitude towards meeting people, you are a natural for a lot of opportunities – perhaps a salaried position with a non-profit or NGA, or even in the hospitality industry.
The most important thing, and I know you know this, Anthony – is to grasp this time in your life for the tremendous opportunity that it presents. I also know that you know that you are responsible for bringing a lot of happiness into my life in the last few years, as I am sure you have done for many others.
Thank you for sharing your feelings with us at this beginning of a new year. I’m going to bet that this post receives more heartfelt and loving responses than anything you’ve yet done.

George (YVR and SFO))

C. G. said...

Ant, i just turned 40 this past year and have some of the same feelings you have. I have worked at a non profit for many years and now i have been thinking i should be working at a "real" company.

I know that whatever you decide to do it will be great. I have love reading your blog. Today was no different.

Happy new year and all the best to you on your "journey." Smile.

C.G.

Anonymous said...

I really understand your mind set right now. I'm really glad that you've continued the blog, it keeps me informed about the DR, I feel connected. Glad to read that smoking is no longer apart of who you are, I too quit cold turkey and with prayer, over one year ago. Happy New Year and many new adventures.

WhozHe said...

Congrats on the pro "Anthony" choices regarding your health. No one can love you are treat you better than yourself.

Also, I am glad you have decided to stay in the DR. Something tells me the two of you (you and the DR) are inseperable.

See you at the end of next month.

Anonymous said...

Do you think stopping the drinking is changing your perspective on life? I know some drink to color their world, but it is a faux color.

Anyway, you followed your dream and whatever you do next will be richer because of it. I am struggling with a simliar wish/desire to leave the US for a foreign country. My fear is that I give up EVERYTHING here and get there and decide it is not quite right for me or after a few years I want to return home, but there is nothing to return home to as I gave it all up.

HUGE HUGE dilemmas

Anonymous said...

It's good to know you are taking your health seriously. May this give you the energy and desire to focus on more positive things in your life.

Anonymous said...

As someone who is a little older than you, I have to stress how important it is that you plan a 401K or something so that when you are retired, you can continue to do the things that you enjoy...just by accident along the way, I stumbled into some correct decisions and it has made for a comfortable retirement...not a lavish one but one were if I watch my budget, I can still enjoy the things that I enjoy doing and spending time in SDQ is one of them.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anthony. Happy New Year. I plan to see you in about 4 days. I think most of us can relate to what you have so poignantly described. Decisions, Decisions!! Good Health is paramount, and I applaud your efforts. I, too was grieved to learn of our dear friend LA life altering situation. I, however, believe in prayer and keep you As well as he in mine. The only advice is to plan for the future which comes ever so quickly...put a few $ aside and pensions are ever so important. We all want to live the life style we have become accustomed to....sacrifice is the name of the game unless you are born beautiful or rich. These are tough times, but with a clear head & true friends (REAL)ones, you will succeed. Luv . Melvin

T-D Moderator said...

Making great choices in regard to ones health is always a good thing. People of color have so many issues to worry about when it comes to health, so your conscious decision to change your life by improving and maintaining your health will definitely pay off in so many ways.

I salute you and hope to see you during my visit late February.

PRIMO said...

Congrats on quitting smoking and drinking. I just quit smoking cold turkey on the 1st of december and I haven't had a craving yet. Maybe because I removed myself from all the negativity and people who did nothing but smoke. Sorry to hear about your friend I wish him the best of luck...

" I have learned that no matter what anyone says about you, it matters more what you think about yourself."

That statement is so true and it really hits deep for me for I am having some inner struggles within myself lately. I thank you for that....
Btw where are you originally from?

No matter what you choose to do I wish you luck in your endeavors.

Happy new year!

Anonymous said...

Hi Anthony, congrats on both stop smoking and no longer drinking, those are both big challenges to over come and you have done both with success.Your reflection on where you are in your life at this time,is a normal process we all go through at one time or another or several times in a life time.I do however, feel you answered your own question and for the monent plan to stay just where you are.If you are enjoying your life and have good people around you and even some of those who visit the island during the year then just keep your positive attitude and keep on stepping.Life here in the states gets boring at times has well,so do not feel it much better on this end. After saying all this, I do think for now you made the right decision and then again who would be there to pick up where you left off..."NO ONE"..and we need our frequent fixes from your blog and all the deliciuous eye candy you feed us ,along with sharing your ideas and happenings in Santo Domingo.Take good care and Happy New years to you and all those who read and share there views on the blog. JIM from Houston, Tx.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anthony, congrats on both stop smoking and no longer drinking, those are both big challenges to over come and you have done both with success.Your reflection on where you are in your life at this time,is a normal process we all go through at one time or another or several times in a life time.I do however, feel you answered your own question and for the monent plan to stay just where you are.If you are enjoying your life and have good people around you and even some of those who visit the island during the year then just keep your positive attitude and keep on stepping.Life here in the states gets boring at times has well,so do not feel it much better on this end. After saying all this, I do think for now you made the right decision and then again who would be there to pick up where you left off..."NO ONE"..and we need our frequent fixes from your blog and all the deliciuous eye candy you feed us ,along with sharing your ideas and happenings in Santo Domingo.Take good care and Happy New years to you and all those who read and share there views on the blog. JIM from Houston, Tx.