Life for the Now and After

The Prudentialist

The Prudentialist

Observing the world from a dissident and realist perspective. Musings on culture, politics, and international relations.

I don’t think I’ll get over writing about my personal life. I talk often about humanizing ourselves in these spheres of dissident politics, after all, there is a human being behind this Kermit von Metternich profile picture that I use. (An embodiment of Frog Twitter, perhaps?) But given today’s date, I wanted to talk a little about a victory, a monumental one even if it is just for me.

To some extent I’ve told this story, or at least in the aftermath of recovery. Although I’d argue that the journey that has really turned my life around, at least in the sense of returning as a prodigal, in sharpening my understanding (however limited as it may be) of our world probably began with the drive to where I live now on Christmas Day, 2019. I’ve said this for some time that the move to somewhere with a little more of a root than the rootlessness of a city, or at least the rootlessness of being a kid with a military parent whose career entailed moving every couple of years or so. That kind of moving around all the time does harden you to connections and friendships, and the ability to both move on easily and not worry so much about the past. Especially if you are a nerdy kid or bookworm, you can learn from your mistakes and in a year or so you can basically reinvent yourself in another country or other part of the world. In that end, I’m the definition of a rootless cosmopolitan, but with a very country upbringing, all in part due to my father.

Come the move I take my skills somewhere useful, hired for a job at the beginning of February of 2020, just before Covid and my kidney failure began. It was the first job I had ever worked remotely, and then became permanently remote due to the lockdowns and my own health issues. I don’t want this to be a “oh woe is me” kind of story, but I should try my best to give it in some detail for some context. I am not one to enjoy sympathy or the center of attention (which to some extent makes me a terrible e-personality of sorts) but I don’t mind being honest with my audience. I’d rather y’all know the truth about me, after all I’m one of those people that has shown his face on the internet it’s not like I’m trying to be some RWBB whilst secretly being as thin as I am. For the few of you who’ve met me in person, you know what I mean.

Yet as the subtitle to this piece makes clear, today is the one year anniversary of my kidney transplant. I’ve done a bit of explaining the situation in the video I linked earlier in this piece, and I wrote another essay on some of my personal guilt that I carry on Pascha, and my attempts to come to terms with it all. It is a sort of survivor’s guilt, in all actuality, I find it hard for myself to reconcile the fact I am the person I am and was compared to the fact some 9 month old got into a car accident, died, and had his organs removed for transplantation. My twenty-five year old self at the time getting one of his two kidneys, some other woman at the same hospital got the other. My talented surgeon, the brave woman that she is, did mine and hers that night.

Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself? Maybe I should try and get your attention with something gritty and gory? How about this?

For those of you who have done hemodialysis or have had a central line this should look familiar. This was on the right side of my chest for the first nine months of twelve that I was on dialysis. I had taken many a selfie while I was sitting in the chair, being the only person under 30 at the DaVita center while a nurse my age was also looking over me.

Okay, now that I’ve gotten your attention, let me also preface that this isn’t going to be some sitcom-esque schtick where some character has a close brush with death and is suddenly an over-the-top, hyperbolic appreciator of life and all things that come with life. Actually in retrospect I really do hate those tropes in writing, but I’m pretty sure I am writing that with the context of everything that’s happened in the last two and a half years.

But how can I not have distaste for that TV Trope anyway?

Like most modern television it’s meant to write off for laughs the importance one might have for the sacredness of life, as well as to chuckle at those who ponder about the life after this one, and the age to come.

But between Covid, thrice a week trips for hemodialysis, and the growing concern over my wellbeing from my family, I can recall calling my friend once I started driving again after the initial discharge from the hospital sometime in July saying something along the lines of “I’ll probably be healthier than ever before after this.” The youthful veil on invincibility is a powerful tool when put into a mortal situation, especially when you are young. It works as an effective defensive mechanism to keep you from pondering too much about the possibility of death. So you take selfies, you chat with the nurses, you enjoy the fact some nice five foot one Latina MILF with a New York Accent flirts with you every time you’re there. It makes up for the fact that you’re in a place where people bleed, pass out, cramp, and sometimes die.

(Y’all have seen my face, please pardon my vanity regardless.)

But when I had my sense of “independence” back, however limited as it was at the time, I started having those creeping thoughts come into the back of my mind. “Hey man, you should probably get right with God.”

So I took my time. I visited dozens of Churches. All of them, as I mentioned on other streams.

In no particular order:

Catholic (including TLM)
Church of Christ
Seventh Day Adventists
Greek Orthodox

And finally where I am now, with the Orthodox Church of America.

There will come a time where I will give a more thorough apologia for Christianity, as well as my journey back to it (much to the chagrin of the one pagan I know who is a subscribestar patron) but I found my way through reading, asking questions, and coming to the conclusion that I am where I need to be now. Again, a story for another time.

But as the subtitle also says, “a good defense.”

Which brings me back to that TV trope and other things I cannot stand about how we treat things in a modern context, especially one without an appreciation for any sense of religion lest it’s Santa Inc. or even the Hanukah Armadillo (Friends deserves its own take down one day.)

But with any moment when seriously confronted with one’s mortality, that always becomes the phrase many in a secular society tell themselves. As for me, I did, or at least I am trying to. I keep my online life entirely separate from my real life. Outside of the few irl events or meet-ups I’ve done (along with basketweaving) it’s never something I bring back home nor parish life. Outside of those who’ve been seriously doxxed or had been fired from their jobs because of their views, I feel privileged both by geography and the fact no one in my real world knows I do this thing, which means like a superhero I can put the online life away until your friendly neighborhood reactionary frog hears the call.

This has done a few things, as any long time viewer can probably tell, that my streams on books that I read have pretty much died, because most of my reading has been a list of a few things, which may lead to a video all on its own one day.

  1. The Orthodox Study Bible

  2. The Doctrine of Christ by the late Archbishop Dimitri

  3. The Philokalia (the translation by Bishop Kallistos Ware)

  4. Marriage and Family Life (The homilies of St. John Chrysostom)

  5. Rock and Sand (Fr. Josiah Trenham)

And many more, but again, my faith is my faith, and I remain humbly a Catechumen to the Church. Which of course is why I don’t talk about it all that much, aside from having Anglo Ortho on to respond to NPR, and even then, we both were rather energetic about it, after all, bring it on. Amidst all of the politicking over religion, (Caths v Prots, Caths v Orthos, Christianity v Pagan) I don’t proselytize as much as I feel like I should, but the best I can tell people of course, is to come and see.

Without sounding like one of those “born again” types I will simply say for now, that this very real encounter with my mortality, especially during a post-op infection that had me in the hospital for two weeks, or dealing with covid post-transplant where I nuke my immune system harder than the bikini atoll every 12 hours.

But there is a line in many of our prayers and services that I’m just beginning to understand with greater depth and appreciate more.

“For a good defense before the dread judgment seat of Christ, let us ask of the Lord.”

And I guess in the midst of all of this, I am once again coming back to the words of the homilies of my Parish Priest, who not too long ago had referenced a Saint, (whose name escapes me as I write this) about his wounds he had endured during the time of the Soviet Union, and had faced complications from his wounds to where he was mutilated in his legs and feet many had considered it a miracle that he could walk and deliver the Liturgy. When asked by a layperson, “surely you have done enough to be saved?” He had replied sternly, “Only God knows what I must endure for my salvation.”

I consider my past life, one of which I have written about before. Playing the game, sleeping around, the dishonesty and my quickness to anger, and many things I still battle with today is a past I am trying to reconcile with, especially with the more small town Americana guy I am now. Going from a lolbert to a mustachioed reactionary, an agnostic to an Orthodox Christian, a man who’d rather waste his nights and money drinking and playing pool (I still do, but I can’t drink anymore) to now someone who goes to a regular book club with the younger Parish men to talk about the classics, I know there is no way that I would be the man who I am now if it wasn’t for the kidney failure.

I know in some time, ten (or more, God willing!) I will have to face this again.

But I won’t be nearly as existentially panicked come that time.

For those of you who know anyone on dialysis, or needs a transplant in general, please talk to them and see if you can donate, or help raise awareness so that they can.

I got lucky because my skinny self qualified for the pediatric list just as much the regular list, not everyone is as fortunate.

I’ve got a dozen or so scars around my abdomen, chest and neck. I take dozens of pills daily to keep the organ from going into rejection. I make regular content on youtube and substack, working, and despite this:

I can still get a lot of gardening, bee keeping, and hunting done. Not to mention the fishing, my favorite pastime even with the restrictions on lifting. (Yes I know, I need to figure out a way around that.)

Here’s to another year, and many years to come.

If I can look back and be happy with the progress made since 2019 and three some odd brushes with death, I can’t wait to see what life looks like come the second anniversary of the transplant.

With all that in mind, I’ll be back with more regular cultural and geopolitical content. I do have the paywall up, where the geopolitical articles will go, which will go a long way until I am employed irl once more.

Until then,

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