Thursday, March 20, 2008

Early morning reflection

My life is interesting. More now than I think it ever has been before. I grew up in the country, and as dreamy and wonderful as that sounds, I was usually bored to tears. We had four television stations that our antenna could receive and one of them was always full of static. I can remember my uncle Keith banging on the t.v. set because sometimes that made it more clear, or turning the knob on the fancy schmancy electric antenna turner to turn the thing in a different direction outside so it might pick up a better signal for a station. Once the desired best spot was found, then everyone tip toed around in the house so as to not upset the television itself. It was delicate business getting your station in clear.
Chores took a much longer time than they do now, but that was probably best given the default boredom that I experienced. We had no dishwasher, that is, except for me and my grandmother. Occasionally I'd guilt my brother into helping with this, but he was six years younger and so short that he'd have to stand on a chair just to get up high enough to work in the sink, and he was young so he was usually more interested in squirting me with the sprayer than actually rinsing the dishes. We hung our clothes out on a clothesline which left my jeans feeling stiff as a board and everything else looking misshapen. My socks had little brown spots at the top or the toe from the wooden clothespin residue. Hanging clothes out might now be hailed as a great fuel saving alternative to the electric clothes dryer, but I cannot imagine going back. I was always so irritated by the inconvenience and the lackluster results. And when it rained for days on end? Laundromat up at the gas station in town. Not a fun experience at all, especially when you don't even know dryer sheets exist.
Nevertheless, my country upbringing has led me to appreciate all things technical and innovative. The iPhone absolutely wows me, and one day I will save up enough money to buy one. I've loved email since my very first telnet account in 1993. My cell phone is so useful that I don't even have a landline anymore. And I drive a Volkswagen with airbags that surround the interior of my car. How did we get from living in the woods to big cities with tall skyscrapers, electronics that operate on information sent right through the air, and underground and underwater highways and rail systems? I think it was because people were bored to tears and looking for a way to get something done in a bit easier fashion.
My life now is incredibly not boring. I have three jobs and I'm trying to start a business. I also have a 3 and a half year old little girl that I mostly keep during the day. I work around her schedule so that I can be there for those silly sweet moments with her. But my evenings are spent in the emergency room dealing with the latest trauma and the impact it's having on a family, or I'm serving up some piping hot coffee and discussing politics or some other topic with the newest customer at Starbucks. Sometimes I'm out taking pictures of a community event for the paper-- my tiny job that I adore. And once in a while I sell some Tupperware to people who come asking for it.
I used to think that to be successful I had to have a career, I had to make lots of money, I had to have a fat bank account, and I had to have the perfect house, drive the perfect car, have the perfect, smartest child, and be married to the perfect man. None of that is true. Sometimes events seem unfortunate when really they are a Godsend. My letting go of those ideals freed me up to appreciate the real world around me like I used to when I was a child. Because on those days when I was bored to tears, I found wonder and amazement in the things around me - like the way tree frogs sing at night, watching a litter of puppies be born, watching fruits and vegetables go from seedlings to harvest, enjoying the simplicity of the silence in the wee hours of the morning, as I am right now. I think now that the formula for happiness and personal satisfaction is opening myself up to new things, and when nothing seems fair or right, charging out into the world and creating the opportunity that I want to have. I wanted my life to be more flexible. I wanted to spend more time with my child. I wanted to be really happy and appreciated at work and to be able to align myself with the same ideals as my employer. I wanted to develop deeper connections with others. I wanted to go home nearly every night wowed with something or someone I'd experienced that day that kept my attention.
I have all of that now. Pure excitement. Happy thoughts. Things are really great.
Except for my broken foot. But I'll complain about that at another time.

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