Mr. Noodle

Mr. Noodle
Mr. Noodle

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

keep on swimming

Something Dr. Gemma talks about a few times on her CogKnitive podcast is to 'keep on swimming' as one of her strategies.

I really like this podcast. She is thoughtful and articulate. It's mostly not about knitting, but then, with a hundred or so knitting or other fibre-related podcasts out there, there is only so much one can say.

When I first started college at the fresh age of 21, my plan was to be a prison psychologist. Then I spent a summer volunteering at a youth correctional facility. Then I switched to an English literature major. Now, thanks to Dr. Gemma, I can live vicariously through her and hear stories about the work I'll never do.

I'm fascinated by the stories she comes up with. She has a number of segments in her podcast, including 'strategies' and 'something I like' and 'blather'. It's great because she has a set agenda of what will be included in every podcast and, because she is talking to the microphone as she is driving to/from work, she just talks. She is articulate and never has any non-words ('um', 'uh', 'like', 'you know', or other filler words when the speaker can't think of what to say next). So when she gets on to her strategies segment, I perk up especially because they are strategies that can apply to everyone.

The 'keep on swimming' strategy has come up a couple of times. She refers to the character voiced by Ellen deGeneres in the film Finding Nemo - that when you run into difficulty, just keep swimming to get you through. It's a good idea.

I live in a place where lots of people cope through their difficulties with alcohol, nicotine, or drugs. I have a hard time relating to this, of course, because I cope with knitting. Lots of the people I work with are smart as a whip but either dumb themselves down to fit in or dull themselves with substance.

That got me thinking about the choices we make in our lives. Would you rather be in a rut or on a roller coaster? Being in a rut you have a predictable and possibly stable life. You have that comfort in knowing that this time next year, you will be doing the same job with the same people in the same place. But if you are on a roller coaster, you never know what will happen next. Sure that uncertainty can be scary, but sometimes adversity can throw you into some amazing situations that you wouldn't have otherwise encountered.

Case in point: have I told you the story about when we crashed our van on the first day of our honeymoon?

We had crossed the border into Washington state at around 11:00pm. We pulled into a Wal-Mart and camped the night there, then the next morning were going to make our way to the Olympic Peninsula for the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend. We were both of us looking down at the map while driving, and looked up too late to realize that the BMW in front of us had stopped to make a left turn off the highway. Dan braked hard but still rear-ended the guy.


I knew right away that Dan would be worried about me, so the first thing I said was "I'm not hurt!" The next thing that happened was that both vehicles pulled off the side of the road. Dan was freaking out. This van has been in his family since 1986 when they bought it new. Dan learned to drive in this van. Dan had spent the previous three months, evenings and weekends, renovating this van to make it ready for our month-long journey on the road in the 10 western states and Canada. Now Dan was absolutely freaking out, worried that he had ruined our vacation, that we'd have to go home, that he'd wrecked the van.

BMW guy, nice fellow, was okay. His vehicle was hardly damaged. But our van took a pretty hard hit. The front passenger side was crushed in, all the lights were rendered useless.

After we exchanged insurance information with the guy and the state trooper, we went off and parked in a Lion's Club park (or something like that) while Dan got out the monster tool kit he had brought. He just happened to bring a drill and a file to adjust the hinge on the door so that it hung right. Just happened to have an extra set of lights and the van's electrical wiring manual so that we still have lights and signals so we' re road safe. Just happened to have a piece of sheet metal to cover the hole. Just happened to have a huge roll of duct tape and a pool noodle to patch it up and make it all secure. That's my Sweety.

Later that day we went to the local library for the Internet connection. Dan got on the Toyota Van Forum and asked if anyone between Seattle and New Mexico had an old van they were willing to offer up for pieces. A day later, a fellow in Mammoth Lakes California replied.

So Mammoth Lakes became part of our itinerary. We took lots of pictures of this time, so I really should post them. Another time, perhaps.

We needed to be there for two days while the deconstruction of the other van happened. Sam, the fellow we were getting the pieces from told us about this place where the locals all go to camp. If you drive south on the highway for about twelve miles then turn left at the green church then drive west for about six miles, there is a road you turn left on. Keep going until you see the old tire hanging on the chicken wire fence... then you know you've found the outdoor hot tub with the natural spring.

So there are hot springs (at 7,000 feet) and a spot where this hot creek emerges, someone had diverted some of the hot water into a big hole they had dug in the ground and then filled with concrete - a hot tub. It was amazing! The Sierra Nevada mountains are all around and it is otherwise high desert. Nothing there, just hills, desert, and sky. It was so nice to have that experience. We never would have heard of it if we hadn't met Sam, if we hadn't gone to Mammoth Lakes, if we hadn't had that accident. So see? Something good came of our adversity.

We are expecting that our move to Ucluelet and our current hardships will result in something amazing down the line. It could be that we end up moving to a great situation somewhere else - something that wouldn't have happened if we hadn't been looking for work somewhere. If there is one thing I do believe in, it is that (for me, at least) everything happens for a reason. So when the going gets tough, I just keep swimming.

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