It’s been over a month since I last published, and there have been numerous changes in my life to explain my silence. I have moved half-way across the country again, and realized how one year’s isolation in hotels can stunt a person. I haven’t been idle—I’ve been working on my book (working title: MY BOOK), and engaging with the staff in my various abodes. I’m currently in a hotel in which people can stay until the Crack of Doom, although I hope to leave before then.

Of course I’ve been keeping abreast, remotely, of the doings of my friends and colleagues by means of Social Media, although it seems to have become Political Media recently (most unwelcome). Some things haven’t changed—the most popular response is often a vulgar attack. However they may use it, it is how they wish to be perceived.

I’ve been focused on Renaissance—rebirth. The word is usually associated with the Arts, but experience tells me living really is an art. In returning to the East Coast, I’m finding I will have to reconstruct or resurrect a lot of the old life in which I was most comfortable. It’s been so long, I’m struggling to remember what that was.

I’m acutely aware of how much catching up there is for me to do. In a fast-food chain a few weeks ago, someone had to explain the menu to me because the menu had mysterious ‘catchy’ expressions and I couldn’t understand it.

The last year’s cast of characters falls into three categories. The largest category, of course, is The Ciphers—people who are content to watch things happen and do nothing about them. They often claim to commitments and ideals, but they don’t exercise them. We must accept and care about these, or risk becoming one of them.

The next category is The Disappointments—people with promises they won’t keep, authority they’ll abuse (often authority they’ve don’t actually have), and of course, the special sub-category of Villains, comprised largely of thieves and bullies. I’ve been robbed, rousted, and threatened, and met quite a few who for whom truth is an unwelcomed guideline. The obvious response is to avoid these individuals, but the challenge is to recognize them—so many of them are disguised as people.

The category that excites me the most is The Surprises. Complete strangers respond to a plea for help with cash. Old friends in straitened circumstances make sacrifices they can ill afford. Friends I haven’t seen or be in contact with for years, suddenly emerge from the clouds with real, and unexpected help. A recently made friend actually said, ‘You need a better life, I’ll be there Tuesday to collect you.’

And here I am.

The essence of each category revolves around Loyalty and Respect. The Ciphers have none of either, regardless of what they claim. It shows in their actions. The Disappointments have plenty of Loyalty and Respect, but it is only for themselves. The Surprises have Loyalty and Respect in abundance, and it’s for everyone.

I couldn’t enter Renaissance without having had all these in my life, even the Disappointments and the Villains (and I should mention their cousins, the Utter Loons). Unwillingly, I’ve learnt about adapting, adjusting, and assuming ‘combat readiness in hopes the Cavalry arrives in time.’ (They usually do in films. Life imitates Art.)

Renaissance doesn’t happen immediately. It will require as much patience as I have, and I hope less patience than my friends have. It is a time of rediscovery, exploration, and building.

It will require loyalty and respect.

Paul TN Chapman
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