I've enjoyed reading of peril. On mountains, in boats, airplanes, being a Rolling Stone, rowing across the Atlantic, fiction, nonfiction- doesn't matter. Somewhere along the way, I got attached to risk myself, going from armchair adventure to the piss your pants what the hell am I doing?! kind of adventure. Odd for a spindly, late (really late) 40's guy.
True, I'm home at night. I'm working in a familiar area, with friends in boats not more than a mile or so away. It's still the Atlantic Ocean, though, 40 or so fathoms deep, way over my head. It's November. I'm inexperienced. I'm running a boat miles from shore.
Lisa has a yellow sticky note over her computer: "feel the fear and do it anyway." I have definitely felt the fear and lurched forward into the fearful place.
Inspirational yellow stickies aside, I want to talk about how low the lows and high the highs can be within 48 hours.
Yesterday at around 2:30 a.m., I was sitting in the living room, breaking down over financial and other stress. I more or less stayed up until it was time to go out to haul traps and try to get some grocery money. The previous day had begun with a $260 bite in the ass from a forgotten bill for gas that I only discovered when the stove wouldn't light for breakfast. That money was going to be groceries and the self esteem that comes from being able to provide them.
Fortunately, in spite of a less than inviting marine forecast, I got out aboard the boat and headed out to haul. The magic of that outing was not only that I got my grocery money back, but that the thrashing of the work aboard the boat matched the turmoil inside me perfectly. My soul was balanced in between, deeply satisfied by acting in the face of internal and external turbulence. Boat rolls up to buoy, swerves up and down and sideways on the chop, gaff the buoy, run the rope through the pulley and hauler, bring traps aboard. Tend them. Run them off. Yeah.
I said goodbye to my family and flew to town. I had not been to the mainland since the beginning of October, a month and a half earlier. That fact may explain some of my extreme black and white thinking minus the white parts. I sent groceries back on the 3:45 plane out to the island.
Today I had my annual refresher to keep my law license. I saw many friends. I was surprised by the wash of positive energy. These individuals obviously did not know what a train wreck I am, and I just as happy not to think about it myself for a few hours. I never really felt like a lawyer, like it was my career destination, though I spent a decade in Maine's courts. All the same, here I was surrounded by attorneys who have worked hard, been committed and accomplished something. The folks I caught up with seemed genuinely glad to see me and positive about my whacky life.
Therein lies the conundrum of the moment. What I see reflected back to me seems pretty cool. What I feel about my situation is often so chaotic and conflicted, desperate, reckless, irresponsible. In all the stress and isolation of this year on Matinicus, I've gotten to kicking myself pretty bad. I kind of like the outside-in view better. Maybe I should go with that.
After a windowless, fluorescent sit-a-thon listening to experts in real estate, environmental, corporate, municipal and ethics law, I headed up to Waterville to play some tunes for a retirement party for a couple of my Corrections colleagues. I had no idea how much I missed so many of them. Again, the DOC was not my career destination, and I often felt bad about being lazy and unfocused, but I sure did feel great seeing so many great people. Again, they all seemed so accepting and positive.
It took some courage to play the last song of the night, an offensive and expletive filled, but also well written original song, perfectly apropos to the moment. Many times, especially in front of groups of people, I'll bail on an a risky idea and regret it. Not so tonight. I think those fine friends really enjoyed the song. Looked like they were doubled over.
I could look at it that people are positive to me 'cause they don't know what a mess I am, or maybe they know better than I do that for all my wandering, my financial disasters and other ne'er-do-wellism, it's ok for all of us to be who we are. Crooked path, undeclared bankruptcy and all. That's the real adventure.