Midian Ranch Blog

This is the web log for Midian Ranch, an isolated homestead in rural Nevada. It is owned by Jason and Tina Walters, whom are also its regular posters. This blog is exclusively for the enlightenment and edification of our friends, family, and colleagues.

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Location: Gerlach, Nevada, United States

Sunday, September 03, 2006

September 1st: A New Beginning

And so I walked away. After 15 years of owning a messenger service - 15 years of defining myself professionally, spiritually, and in every way that matters as a messenger service owner – I left the Flash office after putting in a final full day’s work. It’s hard to describe what the experience of being a hands-on courier service boss in a major metropolitan area is like unless you’ve been in the business. Try to imagine that you’re a college sports coach, a NYSE floor trader, a psychologist, and a carnival conman all rolled up into one ball – that would be close. You could probably throw ghetto mother in there for good measure. It’s very intense: the emotional highs are very high, the lows are very low, the legal exposure is very real, and the money can be very good…. or not there at all. It’s above all stressful, and the chemicals produced in the human body by stress have been medically shown to be addictive.

Maybe that’s what’s happening to me right now. I’m detoxing.

As has long been my habit I pushed myself as hard as I could until almost the last moment, in all ways I acting exactly as if I’d be back in the saddle the next business day. In retrospect it was both comical and tragic. I would like to think that this tragicomic behavior came from a deep sense of professional ethics, but in reality I just don’t think I knew what else to do. I’ve pulled the plow so long I don’t know how to act without a harness strapped to my back. I’m not feeling sorry for myself; it’s just a fact. Two days out of the harness and I already feel directionless from lack of pulling.

Dominic threw a small party for me in the final hour. Many of Flash’s messengers came to wish me well; it was genuinely very touching. There was good pizza, excellent beer, and a lot of good cheer had by all. Dom and I said or professional (but not personal) goodbyes in a solemn manner, hugged, and I walked out the door never again to be Flash’s owner. Tina and I went downstairs to the Montgomery Street motorcycle parking lot, got our gear in order, and paused so that I could cry like a baby. What can I tell you? I had honestly thought that leaving Flash would be like having an enormous weight taken from my shoulders. It is – only that it turns out that without that weight I feel completely empty. The weight of Flash has been 90% of my life for so long that just philosophically knowing that it’s gone is like loosing a close friend or a family member. It’s been two days and I still feel like death on two legs.

Or maybe it’s been all of the hard drinking.

All right, it’s not just Flash. It’s Dominic as well. For almost a decade we’ve been closer than most brothers ever get to be. We’ve shared the same terrors, savored the same victories, and overcome the same obstacles together for so long that I have a hard time imagining doing anything without him. Even as I’m writing this I keep thinking, “How would Dominic feel about this?” We’ve spent more time together in that tiny, stressful office than we ever have with our wives at home. I honestly not certain that I’m a fully competent adult without the man I’ve come to think of in my adult life as an older brother. For much of my life I haven’t had to be.

I’m also not certain I’m a full man away from the helm of the business I stared a mere three months after I became old enough to drink. Or even a complete person away from the city that, for good or ill, has shaped my entire adult life. I’ve deliberately and systematically stripped away from myself everything that makes Jason Walters who he is so that I can become something that doesn’t really exist. It’s just a dream; abet one that has haunted me in waking visions for half a decade. More like a compulsion than a desire. To be really and truly free in that uniquely American way that our nation’s Founding Fathers envisioned. To live apart from others, liberated even from the wires and cables that tie us to one another. To live, as Jesus Christ once said, “As a passerby.” To become a real writer like Darren Watts, Steve Long, and Ken Hite rather than limping along as a dilettante. And, perhaps most importantly, to become the husband, father, and man I always hoped to be.

In the last two days I’ve learned this: while separating from the things one despises may indeed be the highest virtue, separating from the things one loves is the greatest torment. It is simply one of the Universe’s great cruelties that the two are often inseparably joined together.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very touching Jason, When I was a security guard at MUNI there was a retired driver who bought a mobile home and parked in front of a MUNI yard...being a MUNI employee was his whole life and he can't break away, instead of enjoying his retirement he is living out his final days keeping up with office gossip while breathing diesel fumes..(I am glad we are not doing that)....it's really hard to change direction after being something for your entire adult life.
Many recovering alcoholics report feeling despondent over their old life.
For instance when I became sober at 35 years old I was the coolest teenager in the world (except I was trapped in a 35yr old body)
I had all the cool teen acroutenments, black clothes and black MC, long hair, guitar and plenty of angst.
Funny enough I gave that up at age 35 on sept 2'nd 1995.
Like many others of my lineage the "party" life was all I knew... other people in my class became doctors and buisness owners and (God help us) Lawyers.
Like rock & roll stars, we were cool professionally.
I've always said that if you cant be a rock star (or famous writer) the next best thing was the messenger biz. Henry Miller was writing about being a messenger in the early 20th century in NY in Tropic of Capricorn...or was it Cancer??...Anyway the new life style of freedom, fresh air and independence will quickly grow on you.
& if you yearn to breathe stale urine and get panhandled by a walking zombie that reeks of vomit and excrement (or you need a good burrito) you can always drive over the hill ...
Take it from an old coot who was forced (by God) to change direction
@ 35yrs old, that the waters great, (sometimes turbulent too) but worth it in the long run........chriskarma

10:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its been a long time coming. I offer both my heartfelt congratulations and my deepest sympathies. As you know, I went through something similar about 10 years ago. My whole life changed and it seems I was transformed from one person to another. There are definitely things and people that I miss from my old life (you and Dominic among them), but I manage to keep a tenuous hold on the ones that really matter and keep them in my life to some degree. The point is that while I regret having to leave those things behind, I have found others that fill my life as much if not more rewardingly (the kids for example). You too will find more than enough to fill the void that you felt when you left Flash.

On another note, as I periodically check in on your site to see how things are going, I am constantly amazed at how far your writing has come...especially lately. I was excited to see that you have your own title published now, congrats again. If you are ever in the DC area, look me up.

Rob Mansfield

5:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jay, you gotta love it though. As I sit, in Hell-A, I really do resonate with you. The urge to leave the pain, but without the pain, what do you got? It takes a really strong person to answer that question. Most feel like they don't have choices. "Opportunities" are strangely not in line with their personal identities... and yet, they don't like who or what they are. Bravo to you friend. That's why I ditched this barrening rock for J-pan. That why upon needing to return, I landed 350 miles from the sweet spot. My favorite addiction. Cause sometimes you gotta keep a rock in your shoe not to go to sleep at the wheel of life and run into the inevitable without enjoying the ride.

My grandmother passed a few months ago. I came back to the states for her. Having healed, and become lean again, I'm setting my sights on new horizons myself. I intend to visit Midian again before I go. But as always, inshallah.


1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jason, I cried too, imagining YOU crying on Montgomery Street! Whether your intention was to solicit tears or not, you certainly got them from me! I can just picture the scene, having been privy to some of those Flash parties-although sadly not your farewell event-and find myself thinking: no! he didn't really walk away from FLASH! But I know you did and that it was what you really wanted to do. I wish you and Tina all the best. I see improvements already! I like the newer look to your blog, and even more so the more organized feel your life in NV seems to have already. I look forward to keeping up with you guys electronically and watching you grow. And, as I sit here at work at ABC Legal Messengers in Seattle, I find you've raised some questions in my own mind about the ability/necessity/torture/glory in separating oneself from that which you feel defines you. All the best and lots of love to both you, Beth

2:54 PM  

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