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    Movin’ On

    By Dr. Tim Seelig–

    If you are an occasional reader of this column, you know I love telling stories and sometimes wacky analogies. Two months ago, I regaled you with the joys of Portlandia, my new home (not the TV show.) Last month, my article was all about transitions (not the lenses). It was all about those in between times, waiting, pondering, preparing for whatever is next. Those are the times of uncomfortable limbo, not a restful vacation.

    We know it’s time to get out of our chairs and start the next part of the journey—movin’ on. As I thought about it, I found lots of colorful analogies to describe the “change of life.” I thought about travel, of course, taking the first step of a journey. I thought about getting into the game, i.e. sportsball. But, unlike Lay’s Potato Chips, I actually can have just one. Therefore, for today’s sermon, I’ve narrowed it down to caches! I’ll save sportsball and travel for another day.

    We’ve all been in situations where the next steps are unclear or completely unknown. I know from first-hand experience that there are moments of panic. I have certainly had them over the last year since deciding to make a huge change in my own life. Even with all the planning, most life changes still include moments of staring out into space wondering if this new adventure will work or not. You look ahead, of course, and back. Looking back is most definitely not all it’s cracked up to be. It most definitely takes unnecessary focus away from the movin’ on required.

    In that semi-frozen state, things are just unclear and messy. There are still a few things you need to take care of to move out with a clear focus and mind. Wrapping up this stage can be confusing. It feels like the times I get frustrated with my computer and don’t know what’s wrong. I push all the buttons and keys—a lot. Finally, my I.T. guy, Dan, comes to the rescue with a solution that should have seemed simple: “When was the last time you restarted your computer?” I’m either too embarrassed to answer or have no idea. Nine times out of ten, it works. It needed a break (from me!). In these times, I know I also need to restart my brain.

    But things are still clogged. The next instruction comes my way. “When was the last time you cleared out the cache?” My what? Well, apparently this is a hugely important step. Apparently, we are carrying around a lot of hidden baggage from past interweb interactions that are keeping us from seeing clearly. We have no space for the new adventure if we don’t clear out the cache. This applies to every area of life.

    We can do this. We can let go of the baggage we’ve been carrying that we no longer need. Here are the instructions. Go to brain settings. Go to tools. Select Preferences. Choose the one that says, “My preference is to start with a clean slate, thank you.” It is hilarious that, as I wrote this, I received an email from Google One, “We partnered with tidying expert Marie Kondo to help you easily organize your emails and files.” It’s obviously something everyone experiences.

    Marie would be so proud. If the jumble in your cache doesn’t spark joy, get rid of it. Breathe. Delete.

    Years ago, before I moved to San Francisco, I was going through a period when I was forgetting things—really normal things. I was freaked out. I was so concerned; my physician suggested a full neuro psych evaluation. It lasted over 2 days. I found it fascinating. When I arrived, the evaluator said, “You’re going to the store. You are going to get milk, cherries, pants, lettuce, shampoo, and a hammer.” Repeat that back to me. That was that and off we went to the other tests. Periodically during the sessions, the evaluator would randomly ask what I was getting at the store. I nailed the grocery list every time.

    After a few weeks, I went to the doctor’s office for the report. I was sweating like a you know what in church. I was just certain he was going to describe a terrible irreversible malady. He immediately set my mind at ease by telling me I was not crazy. (Well, not according to his tests!) and I was pretty smart. I was also not suffering any damage or deterioration of my brain functions. In my session, the doctor who was sharing the results described it as overload.

    Out of protection of too much input, my brain had put things in folders and filed some of the information away—in folders that were not easily accessible. Maybe they had been filed away in the dark recesses of my brain cache. Looking back, I can’t imagine why I was overloaded. I was the Artistic Director for the Turtle Creek Chorale, The Women’s Chorus of Dallas, adjunct professor at Southern Methodist University, on book tours with several books and guest-conducting. I had a home, partner, and 3 dogs to boot. As I was leaving the doctor’s office, he asked what I needed to get at the store. I remembered. Still do.

    Based on his diagnosis, his prescription was either to cut something out of my crazy life or keep forgetting insignificant things that were significant to me. I heard, “Girl, stop trying to be all things to all people. Someone else can do some of those jobs.” What? Now he was confused! About this same time, I had sought professional help from a psychiatrist for my workaholism. After finding out what I did, he basically endorsed my work ethic. “You’re doing good for the world.” We did, of course, discuss the origins of my “problem” and the question, “When is enough, enough?” As you might expect, it dated back to my father’s German work ethos and the little gay boy inside who kept trying to overachieve to gain approval. 

    There’s the old saying, “No one ever gets to the pearly gates wishing they had worked one more day.” Wrong. I’ll be that person. I love to work. I live to work. You can’t tell me it’s wrong. Many have tried. That being said, several things in the last years sat me down and forced me to narrow the things I was doing—chief among them was COVID. Coming out of that period absolutely informed me not to pick up the crazy again.

    I feel quite certain you have had to reinvent yourself in your life. I have shifted gears many, many time and many of those shifts have been huge. I went from graduating from college as a single man at 10 am to married man at 2 pm the same day (lest I stray). I transitioned from an opera singer in Europe, which had been my lifelong dream, to a professor and minister in Houston (Houston is kind of like the Swiss Alps, but different). I transitioned from married to single, hetero (ish) to gay. When that happened, I transitioned to “waving my arms at the gays” for the next 35 years.

    Now I am at what is surely the final big change—no more waving my arms for a living! As you know, Chapter #1 was Big Ol’ Baptist. Chapter #2 was Big Ol’ Gay.  Chapter #3 is Big Ol’ Gay Retiree! 

    That final chapter is still a mystery. I haven’t figured out the details, but some of the components are coming into focus (along with my cataract surgery!) I do know at the core of Chapter 3 is my life’s mission of making a difference in peoples’ lives in whatever medium I am given. I’m not ready to sit in my rocking chair and wonder. Stay tuned for Chapter #3. I’m pretty sure it’s going to have something to do with speaking. Now I just have to find folks to talk at! But my mental cache is at least clear. I’ve made room for new things to fill those spaces. No more excuses.

    Off we go into the wild blue yonder. If you look both ways, you’ll be just fine when you take that first step!

    Dr. Tim Seelig is the Conductor Laureate of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.

    Tears, Laugh and Conversation
    Published on November 17, 2022