Sunday, December 20, 2015

Photo-of-the-Week #242 – The Commencement Site, The Oakhill Ranch, Winchester, Virginia, October 2008

Photos of this house have appeared here before. But, as I was sitting here the Sunday before Christmas 2015, I find myself contemplating a number of aspects of my life. The idea of “commencements” crossed my mind. Most people experience several commencements of various kinds during a lifetime. This week's photo actually represents both a graduation and commencement in my son's life and mine.

I moved into this house in February 2003 and I departed the house the end of October 2008. That was exactly five years and nine months from the beginning to the end of my tenancy. It actually ranks as the home I lived in the second longest time during my adult life. My son lived here with me for about one year of my tenancy. It's actually the only residence I've lived in since 1972, or about 30 years, where I didn't have a full-time spouse/significant other living with me for any part of my tenancy.

To be a little more accurate, a graduation, beside the traditional definition of receiving some kind of academic diploma or degree, also means markers of some kind of designated measure. While a commencement, often used to refer to the meaning of the word graduation, actually means the beginning or starting place. This house and property, I called it The Oakhill Ranch after my business name, is both a graduation marker and a commencement place in both my son's life and my life.

There are a several markers or graduations, this house and the 49 acres it sits in the middle of, represent for me. I mentioned two in the previous paragraph. A third is that living on a property with a sizable amount of acreage fulfilled another of my dreams. Still another is it was the last residence/property I lived in that was under my name and control. Yet another, it was the last place my son lived on the east coast before departing for and commencing his life on the west coast 12 years ago. And, finally, it is the commencement place of the new, non-conforming, alternative, living free, nomadic lifestyle I embarked on at the end of October 2008.

When I moved to this property, The Oakhill Ranch, I only planned to stay for two years. Ultimately, I lived here just short of six years. From my birth until this property, I have lived in no less than 17 properties. That's one for about every four years of my life. There are probably not many career military people who can claim that many locations. Frankly, I'm not sure if that's a positive or a negative claim. It is what it is and, of course, it's part of who I have become.

So, today I've been ruminating about my past and present. I just viewed a YouTube documentary titled, “I'm Fine, Thanks,” and a feature film distributed by titled, “The Words.” Both of these movies moved me to my state of contemplation. Throughout our lives we are inspired and moved by many people, places and things. I have called them “pivotal” people, places and times on this blog. As Thoreau wrote, something over 150 years ago, “ The mass of men (and women) lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.”

Everything this final third of my life is about commenced October 31, 2008 at this location. Since that day, I have been assembling all the pieces of the puzzle that have been my life. The vision has become clearer and clearer and now, just over seven years later. I believe the words of a popular song, penned by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff and made popular by Johnny Nash, are apropos, I can see clearly now, the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way. Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind. It's gonna be a bright bright sunshiny day.”

I hope you have had or are on your way to your commencement of living free. I hope you can see clearly and the rain, obstacles and dark clouds are clearing and your bright, sunshiny future is beckoning you.

More on some of the things I touched on in the article will follow in future articles. For now, live free and be happy. EH