Tag Archives: heartbreak

The 52 Lists Project #18

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april2016 149

List the things that motivate you:

  • Money. I’m thinking of tips, here. I like money as well as most people, but there are lots more important considerations. I have left well-paying jobs (two) for reasons of moral indignation. I have chosen jobs with low pay because I thought they would be fun, or rewarding in other ways. Tips, though, are a big motivator. Doled out bit by bit, accruing over the course of a day, counted in piles of coin and stacks of bills at the end of each shift…whatever the totals, tips are a bonus. I think any job could benefit just from money being handed out at random throughout the day.
  • Disappointment, humiliation, discouragement or heartbreak. Odd, but true. When I’m at my worst, I am motivated to create, to rise above the hurt and sadness and worldly judgement and reaffirm my essence.
  • Deadlines. Unfortunately, though, not until they are right on top of me. We “practiced” as children (with Mom, sometimes, as co-conspirator), when we delayed all of our end-of-week housework  until one hour before Dad was due to be home – at midnight – from his second shift job. We might have been playing board games or watching TV, but when the eleven o’clock news started, we were galvanized for action. Dishes, left to drain dry on the counter, were quickly put away. Counters were wiped down; sinks were polished. Clutter was gathered from the living room: magazines put back in the rack; stray articles of clothing to the laundry; toys to the back room. Someone would run the vacuum. Someone else was sent to the bathrooms, to gather the wet towels and polish the fixtures. Yet another was on sweeping detail. The ones too little to tackle major jobs were kept busy gathering and running. The kitchen and back room always needed to be mopped. Linoleum – and later Congoleum, with a built-in shine – made the kitchen pretty simple after all the chairs were tipped upside-down onto the tabletop. The back room, which had two doors to the outside and got all the traffic coming and going to the garden, always needed a good scrubbing. It was usually our last job, and the clock was ticking toward midnight. Sometimes, if time was short, we’d run a bucket of hot soapy water, and spill it out over the floor. Everybody would join in, then, to sop the water back up – with towels and sponges and mops – bringing all the dirt up with it. It was a slippery, soap-bubbly, giggly finish to our chores. I’ve never gotten beyond it! For almost any project, I torment myself by waiting until the last possible moment, or beyond. I still sometimes get that heady burst of energy that is, I suppose, an adrenaline-fueled panic. I always get the huge sense of relief and accomplishment when a job is done. What I miss out on, these days, is the fun in between: the group activity, the working together for a common cause…the giggles. These days, deadlines are just too serious.

My Year of Adventure

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I’m not an adventurous person.

I am cautious to a fault, easily intimidated, afraid of the unknown and nervous about anything new.

I am shy. Crowds can be difficult…but so can smaller groups or even one on one conversations.

I don’t learn new things easily, especially if they involve speed, dexterity, coordination or mental agility.

I have to function out in this world, so I work at it.

I have managed to get married, have children, learn to swim, learn to roller skate, go to college, move to Beaver Island, learn to wait tables, get divorced, move to the city, go to graduate school, teach, open a business, write, display my art…in that order. Every one of these things terrified me but made my life better. Every one was worth the risk, made me feel enriched and capable.

Still.

By most standards, none of these “grand achievements” are much out of the ordinary.

I have had my moments, though.

I have had what I think of as “my year of adventure.”

It was about twenty years ago.

It started with heartbreak: a relationship ending.

After working on my marriage for fourteen years only to see it fail anyway, I wasn’t much for working on relationships. I had worked on this one though. We both had. Yet we each stubbornly held on to collected slights and resentments until the joy was gone.

And that was what I couldn’t live without.

So, I braved the heartache and moved on.

In that new open space, for a short time, I seemed to face the world differently.

I didn’t think of all the things that could go wrong. I simply asked, “Why not?”

I went for an airplane ride at dusk, to see the sunset from the sky.

I paddled a kayak out into the harbor.

I took a trip on a twenty-nine foot sailboat, as part of a three-person crew, from Beaver Island’s harbor down to Port Huron…five days and five nights on the water. In October. With a head wind all the way down Lake Huron. When my sister picked me up in Port Huron, I had lost ten pounds. “It was like bulimia camp,” I told her.

I traveled alone, to work on an archaeological dig on Grand Turk Island in the British West Indies. I met a dozen  people of all ages from all over the United States, there to participate, as I was. I met islanders who in many ways were like my own Beaver Islanders. Stopping at a bar one night, a very slim black man with a lilting British accent admonished us, “You didn’t salute…,” for not waving as we passed him on the road that day.  On this island, you’re called to account if you neglect to wave, too. I collected adventures there, and every night ran down to the ocean at sunset, in hopes of seeing the green flash as the sun sank into the water.

Back on Beaver Island, I went for a ride in a bi-plane. The passenger seat was in front; the pilot sat behind.  We could communicate through our headsets.I was strapped in tight. The cockpit was open to the air. We started with a big forward somersault. As the nose of the plane started to go up, I closed my eyes. Vertigo, like you feel if you close your eyes when going up in a swing, had just started to make me queasy when the pilot said, “Do NOT close your eyes!” He’d been the captain on that sailboat…he was familiar with me and motion sickness! The somersault was followed by a couple barrel rolls and a spin of some kind, then we went for a scenic tour of the island. Above Font Lake, I saw Mike McGinnity down below, in his kayak. He looked up. Without thinking, I threw out my arm to wave. The wind caught my arm…and pulled it. Hard. It took all of my strength to retrieve it. “Keep your arms inside the cockpit,” came the curt directive from the pilot.

I took a new route on my evening walk, ending up lost for hours in the woods and swamps behind Fox Lake.

I didn’t make a decision, ever, to stop having adventures…to quit asking, “Why not?” Even when things did not go as planned, I felt daring and brave.

It seems that things just gradually settled down…opportunities did not present themselves.

I carry that year with me, though, and I’m proud to know that inside of me – meek as I am – lives an adventurer!