One Step

When I find myself overwhelmed with all I face in the day ahead, I tend to stop, and do nothing. Nothing at all. There is too much, I can’t take it all in, so I do nothing.

One step forward…I feed the cats. Another step or two…take a shower, brush my teeth, pull together the day’s clothing. Is everything clean? Yes. Does it still fit? I think so. Check my purse, make sure I have my wallet, my phone and my keys. And my lipstick.

Backyard header

I make a list. Call her, email him. Prepare this, revise that. Look for the paperwork lost long ago…it has to be here somewhere. Make a decision. No matter how long my list may be, it is shorter than the endless loop of duty and worry that goes through my head.

I am a little less overwhelmed.

Pour a bowl of cereal, no, today I need a more substantial breakfast. It will take a little longer, but this morning I have the time. Do I have juice? Yes, thank goodness, just enough for one glass.

Add juice to the grocery list.

I feel a little more in control.

Autumn - Old bridge in autumn misty park

Start to tackle that list while I’m waiting for breakfast. Just one or two things if I can. The email I’ve been putting off so long…but I’m glad I waited, I finally know just what to say. Once I finish that message, I must send another, to someone else, to confirm my intentions.

Maybe today I should stop by that office and get my questions answered. Yes, I could call, but I know how these things work. They will give fuller, more detailed answers to someone standing right in front of them., someone who isn’t asking idly, someone who is a real person, not a disembodied voice, or worse, one more email to sort through. Yes, I should stop by.

Oh, the list is so long! And even without it, I have plenty to do. I could stay home all day and never have an idle moment, but that’s not a luxury I’m allowed.

I eat breakfast, I check my makeup, my hair, I grab my list. I need to return that book, drop off…whatever that is. I gather it all together.

“Later, kitty gators. Be good,” I close the door behind me, push the button on the key and hear the familiar click as the car door is unlocked.

Wait, I forgot, I need my allergy medicine or I will be suffering.

One Echinacea Flower Under The MoonI run in, race out, get behind the wheel. Sitting there, I am so overwhelmed, I can barely move the key to the ignition.

When I find myself overwhelmed with all that I face in the day ahead, I tend to stop, and do nothing. But nothing is not an option, so I start the car.

Move forward, take the next step.

One at a time.


Image Credits: (Bridge) © Gorilla — Fotolia; (Echinacea) © Melpomene — Bigstock

Let Your Fear Be Your Guide

At the age of 18, I went canoeing for the first — and last — time.

Don’t get me wrong. It was an extremely successful venture. I was with my church youth group at a river in northern California, known for its great canoeing. It was perfect for beginner and advanced canoeists alike, as the more treacherous areas all had an alternate route (walking).

In particular, there was one rocky streak known as “WipeOut Curve.” No one — I mean no one — made it through WipeOut Curve. I was in a canoe with my friends Debbie and Russ; Debbie was manning the back of the canoe, I had the front, and Russ sat in the middle, sans paddles. Both Debbie and I were novices, and we were advised to walk the path that bordered WipeOut Curve.

We weren’t particularly adventuresome gals, and knew our limits. We’d been doing well, handling the worrisome areas like experts, guided by Russ’s experience and our own common sense. It felt good, but the odds remained against us. For some reason I have long forgotten (quite possibly we were too self-conscious to walk in front of all the picnickers in our bathing suits), we decided to go for it. We headed straight for WipeOut Curve.

We made it.

The crowd of a two dozen or so people were incredulous and cheered us through the treacherous waters. We were focused on the river, so only Russ waved back, but we were thrilled. We had conquered WipeOut Curve. The two of us, who had never canoed before, had done what the most experienced canoeists hadn’t been able to do.

Group of Canoeists on a River Through a ForestWe successfully completed the rest of the route and enjoyed the admiration of the others in our group, particularly the boys, for the rest of the day. It was a high point of my teenage years.

I haven’t been back in a canoe since. The opportunity hasn’t presented itself, and I haven’t sought it out. But that victory has stayed with me.

The truth is, both Debbie and I were scared of wiping out, and that kept us upright as much as any skill we may have had. I don’t remember if it was the embarrassment of looking like drowned rats or the fear of hurting ourselves, and being teenage girls, the former is just as likely as the latter. If I’d had a choice, I may never have stepped in a canoe to begin with.

Except I did have a choice, and I chose to take the risk.

How many times do we succeed because the fear of failure is so strong? Is the victory any less sweet?

Taking a risk doesn’t always pay off. That day, the worst that could have happened is we failed to do what everyone else failed to do, so the risk was nominal. However, something about it motivated us to try the seemingly impossible.

The motivation doesn’t minimize the success. Let your fear take you places you didn’t expect to go. Yes, pay heed to the warning signs, weigh the risks, but be willing to take the curve.

Success is just around the corner.


Photo Credits: (River) © Jason W. Rambo; (River with canoeists) © Steve Boyko. Both stock.adobe.com.

The Foggy Path

Science, it turns out, is sometimes just an illusion.

I was listening to a well-respected scientist speak to that issue today, telling his listeners that in previous years, what seemed to be truth rooted in science, the irrefutable, undeniable truth of science, was in fact a fatal error based on the technology used to obtain the facts.

People suffered, some died, because of that erroneous science. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in science. I’m fascinated by it, in fact, and of course science covers a myriad of sub-topics, some of which are less susceptible to the follies of technology than others.

Some place their faith in science, others place their faith in religion. I place my faith in God, believing that no one organized religion has all the facts, and ultimately we must accept the limitations of our own finite selves.

I know of some people who don’t believe in God because they don’t believe any being can be omniscient, omnipresent and all the rest that comes with the essence of the Almighty. I believe in God for somewhat the opposite reason — I believe the truth must be found somewhere, and that truth is God.

Is it possible all truth bears the possibility of being an illusion? Probably not all, but much of does. If two sides in a battle each believe they are fighting on the side of truth, they can’t both be right. Truth is a foggy path at times.

I could lie awake with eyes wide open each night if I thought too deeply about truth and illusion. There are societal norms, cultural standards and an innate understanding of how we must live our lives to guide us, as well as faith, hope and love.

And as the good book says, the greatest of these is love.


Image Credit: © denbelitsky — Bigstock

Illusion

Is the plural Octopuses or Octopi?

When I was a child, we made frequent trips to the nearby aquarium. The first exhibit down one dark hall — a hall with few escapes — was the giant octopus (just how giant it was is today unclear, but at the time, I thought it was HUGE).

Now, this was not a pretty creature (name the octopus that is) and it seemed to be looking out at us, at me, with its wide eyes. I was certain it was quite angry at being cooped up in that little space, and one day was going to escape and…get me.

My parents were a little amused at this fear, but kept their smiles hidden as they reassured me that simply couldn’t happen. Even if it did get out, they told me, which was nearly impossible, it wouldn’t survive outside of water. In the dry environment, it would be immobilized.

Octopus mimics the cat
“What are you doing out? I told you to stay in the tank!”

Apparently, that isn’t the case at all, although I have no doubt my parents were certain they were telling me the truth. In fact, on one trip, I think they even got aquarium workers to back them up.

As an adult, I’ve heard numerous stories of octopuses escaping from their tanks (most recently Inky of New Zealand, whom, aquarium authorities surmised, escaped out of his tank and down a drain pipe leading to the ocean.) In fact, in an article in “True Activist,” octopus expert Jennifer Mather is quoted from an interview in “Scientific American” as saying, “They are very strong, and it is practically impossible to keep an octopus in a tank unless you are very lucky. Octopuses simply take things apart. I recall reading about someone who had built a robot submarine to putter around in a large aquarium tank. The octopus got a hold of it and took it apart piece by piece.

“There’s a famous story from the Brighton Aquarium in England 100 years ago that an octopus there got out of its tank at night when no one was watching, went to the tank next door and ate one of the lumpfish and went back to his own tank and was sitting there the next morning.”

So not only can they escape, but apparently they’re pretty clever. The Brighton Aquarium lost several more lumpfish before they figured out what was going on.

Aquarium workers acknowledge they need to keep their captive octopuses entertained or they get bored, and who wants a bored octopus? My research revealed many of these captive creatures were injured when they were captured (in a fisherman’s net, perhaps), so some humanity is exhibited in keeping them contained.

But once they are well, it can be argued that holding them in a tank is a compromised existence.

cant see the cat
You can’t see me if I can’t see you!

Which brings me back to my feelings about aquariums today. NO WAY am I going to one with an octopus. Another interesting piece of information I learned in my research for this post? Octopuses have fantastic eyesight. I know if I visit an aquarium, the resident octopus will spot me, far back in the crowd, and decide “this is it, now’s the time. I’m busting out of here and that chick is going to get it.”

Don’t even bother trying to convince me otherwise. I’ve already proven I know more than the grown-ups.


Images © geosap — Adobe Stock

Note: While there is a general consensus in the discussions I read that the word “octopus” is of Greek origin, there was some disagreement about the plural. Some said it would be “octopuses,” while others emphatically stated it should be “octopodes.” One man disagreed with all of that, saying the word actually has it origins in Latin, which would, indeed, make the plural “octopi.”


On the Balance, Fear is an Equal Weight

In July 1999, while in New York for my brother’s wedding, my aunt & I stopped to shop in the World Trade Center. She pushed for the $20 elevator ride to the top, but I balked.

“I’m scared of heights,” I admitted. “I mean, it’s not like I think I’m going to fall off the building if we go up there, but I’d be too terrified to enjoy it.”

“Once you’ve had brain surgery,” she replied, referring to a tumor she’d had removed a few years earlier, “nothing scares you.”

As I stared at the Twin Towers, I hoped she’d never endure nothing more frightening than that growth in her brain. Sadly, that wasn’t the case, as her health problems dwindled in comparison to events the following May. Her son, my cousin, went missing, and has never been found. He is presumed to have been murdered.

And of course, just two years later, those buildings we shopped under and gazed upon collapsed under the force and heat of two jet airplanes that had deliberately been flown at horrific speed straight into them.

I don’t live in fear of events like those on a daily basis, although clearly they can and do happen, but living without the awareness and respect for what life can bring you on any scale seems foolhardy.

Is fear holding you back is a legitimate question, but one that should be coupled with, is that fear a safety measure or a roadblock? If you aren’t pursuing your dreams because the risk greatly outweighs the reward, then consider the fear a gift. Not all dreams are golden opportunities waiting for you to have the courage to make them come true. Some are escapist fantasies with little basis in reality.

cat-320536_640-pixabay
Now what?

At different points in our life, when our responsibilities shift and change, we have a greater or lesser tolerance for risk. Some of us, quite frankly, aren’t good at “jumping off cliffs.” There needs to be some stability in our decisions or we fall apart before the outcome of our decision is determined.

Others thrive on risk, the fear is a motivator, a fuel that sends them from one adventure to another.

We all land somewhere on a tolerance spectrum of risk vs. reward, and as appealing as the phrase “let go of your fears” may be, not all of us should do just that. Our fears can be our friend, not because they rule us, but because they guide us.

Respect yourself, respect your fears, but respect the proper opportunities before they go by, as well. Life is a balancing act.


Photos courtesy Pixabay