January 2021
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Year 2021

The Photo

The Messy Knot of Life

Something happens. That’s the story of growing up. Something happens and it gets more complicated. That is the story of growing up.

Oftentimes I think I’d be happiest if my life were simple. Shed the influences, the encumbrances, the responsibilities and then happiness has space to grow. There is a problem here though. To take these things away would leave me isolated, cut off and powerless. That doesn’t sound like a recipe for happiness.

There was some moment I thought through this problem and came to a conclusion I’ve stuck with for years now. (Maybe I read it or heard it or dreamt it, I don’t know, but it’s mine now.) The nature of life is to complicate in time.

Maybe complicate isn’t quite right. Life gets more complex, or my feelings are more complex over time. My thoughts are. Situations and relationships braid together, overlap and mash together into a Gordian knot that feels too heavy to untangle.

If only I could reach for Alexander’s blade, slice through it all and make life simple again. But this is a cheat, an unmaking that freezes the very process of life. Deeper down I want my life to become more complex over time.

I don’t need to slice through the knot because I am the knot. The best parts of life are in the little loops, the threads overlapping fuzz balls under tangled yarns. That’s where joy is possible. If the devil is in the details, the angel is too.

Its not easy though. And I’m not perfect, sometimes I’m not willing to grow. I know where I keep my detachment knife. It’s next to the ghosting, denial and willingness to ignore problems. But when I don’t face change, I regret it. Sometimes for years. There is some grace though in that my regrets get tied in with all the rest of it. And I can accept them, because life is complex and so am I.

And Then..

There are few things in life that are permanent. Death and taxes is the cliche. “The only thing permanent is change,” is the spicy koan bumper sticker. But tonight I had an experience of the permanent that made me laugh through clenched teeth. I seem to have a permanently dysfunctional relationship with this god damned website.

Recent news sent me digging through the Internet Archive images of this very website. I was looking for a particular picture of my friend Kenny, one he had sent me while he was fighting for the US Army in Afghanistan. Now that the war is over I wanted to remember and see. It felt like one million years had gone by since he was over there, a permanent past. But I couldn’t find the picture. Not on the Internet Archive, not on Google, not on my own computer. But I knew it existed here on this server. Someplace behind the curtain of the error message that’s been displayed for the past 4 years or more. I tried it anyway, tried the URL. I was met with the same black text on white background: Error Establishing a Database Connection. I hate this site.

The thing is, I barely know how to make websites. I’ve taught myself how to put them up but their maintenance is another story all together. When they break Google is my only recourse. Google and Ridlo. Tonight I tried Google. I found an article. I stepped through the troubleshooting checklist. I don’t think anything from the checklist worked for me, but in the meantime I did do a long overdue update of the server. Then noticed that I could login to phpmyadmin after all, and hey, that means mysql is working, and then.. refresh the page and it’s back.

Like finally forcing open a drawer that’s been stuck shut for years, here’s the website again. It’s back! What did I do to fix it? How can I be sure I won’t break it again. Boy it looks old! I love this site!