but also near

Kent Mitchell
5 min readJan 26, 2019


We traveled here on an agent’s advice, barely checking the itinerary before we left. A nearby, warm international place, off the beaten track (though I’m sure many Americans come here for a winter break). Poolside there’s minimal competition for the even more minimal umbrellas (two).


…have to learn to be firm, because my tendency is to be drawn in to every conversation with which I’m approached, or to appear sullen trying trying to deflect. And I must have space, much space, whether at home, at work or on vacation. How do I achieve it?

Caught between many things…to write, to exercise, to look around, help my son, plan the next activity, attend to my wife’s questions or my daughter’s demands, check email, rest, swim, drink, eat, coordinate, reflect, breathe, read a novel, look at photos…


Perhaps I am lost, I don’t know. Pretty sure if I thought I was found then I’d be lost In fact, as, paradoxically, its the models for reality that we build to protect our psyches that take us away from reality and into imaginary places. We can only be found when we have no model…which is never, so we’re always lost. We’re really, really lost when we think we have it all figured out.

The Self is only found in authentic interaction with the environment, which only happens during liminal moments when our models for reality are weakened, such as when falling asleep, or suffering a great loss. Or sick. Guess I’m in good shape — since I feel lost — because it makes me look around and try to figure out what’s going on.

Now I’m feeling sick, after first my wife, then my son. Actually, I was sick before we left on this trip to Belize— a circle of sickness. How does having a cold or a flu relate to being lost or found? Really can’t help feeling that if I’m sick I’m found — the logic is sickness anchors one in the body so one can’t at that moment be lost. Anchored in sickness.


Three days after Christmas at the portable Tropic Air airport terminal in Placencia. Many planes come through here, perhaps one every 10 minutes at right now.

Sick at Placencia airport listening to my wife talk about demanding we fly in two-engine planes. At least she doesn’t require jet engines, and that’s progress. Anyway, I’m grateful she cares about our family’s safety.

After a sojourn in the southern part of Belize I’m still sick and am scheduled to return to Berkeley shortly. Crickets and cicadas outside the open shutters and closed screens seem surreal as I anticipate taking my sick self back home to the Bay area tomorrow. Four full days and one split travel day in-country: a whirlwind. Out of four days in-country, two-and-a-half were activity days. The second half of the trip had only half-day free, while I was sick, for badminton on the grass or lying on my back here in the cottage.


We’ve been home nearly two weeks now and I’m gradually getting over this cold. Made more outbound calls than my quota last week for the first time this New Year…and feel a breathtaking emptiness. Haven’t yet taken the time to announce my promotion to Senior Vice President on LinkedIn. Can it be right to be running so fast that I don’t slow down long enough to announce my promotion?

Somehow I’ve fallen for that thing where you keep working harder and harder and your expectations get higher and higher — my trips get more expensive as I’m promoted so I can make more money to spend on the trips. That doesn’t even sound bad except for the part about not having time to take a breath. That’s that part that doesn’t sit right …the never-ending whirlwind and the feeling that I cannot breathe.

Seems to be a photo is of San Francisco. I very likely snapped this from an Uber while making sales calls on my way to a workout. My psyche feels comfortable when I’ve put in some time taking photos or writing. The work activities support me in a different way. Isn’t it ironic that travel gobbles up time, energy and money, and worse causes me to have to work harder at my job? And leaves me possibly more out of breath than any of the rest. The Maraschino cherry on top of a sundae, bright red and soaked in chemicals. It seems there’s no positive solution to all this except to find balance…somewhere.


If balance is all-important why is it when I start writing regularly or even more than that, write, exercise and travel, seeking creative and physical counterbalance to the work in each day, is when I feel the most overwhelmed, can’t sleep and tend to get sick? I literarily got sick this last time for weeks after a brief period of pushing to do everything. I sought balance and found the opposite. How is that? Am I so out of touch with myself that I must always revert to being under the gun and largely unconscious of why I do what I do when I do it?


Today I’ve worked, taken care of some personal business, done some writing. Had a nice lunch, came within striking distance of a nap, even talked with my wife and son about a few things. On a Monday.

So, today I write under a new regime. I’ve decided that the writing, travel planning, meditating, study, exercise, mending fences, naps, getting to bed on time are what I shall do in order to obtain the rewards of a glass of wine, a novel and other diversions. Let’s see if that works. With nine minutes to go in today’s agreed schedule of these items, I feel a little better than usual about it all. But that’s just because I have time today. And that’s the trick I’m attempting to play on myself: if I save the diversions for after the 2–3 hours of enlightened activities…then…maybe there will actually be those 2–3 hours.

Nothing exists until we open our eyes to it.