07 December 2010

Gem #1

I have figured something out!

For a college class I teach, we are reading the non-fiction work "No Impact Man" by Colin Beavan. Essentially, Beavan (and wife and child) go "off the grid" for a year, trying to live a year of low-to-no impact on the environment. Naturally in a book like this, lots of environmental issues are discussed, but I am pleased at how many spiritual and psychological issues are illuminated as well.

A motif that runs throughout the book is the question: How do we not feel so hopeless? How do we not feel like we're swimming upstream most of the time?

I really like the answer of Mark Vonnegut (son of late Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.) - "We are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is."

If I may modify Mr. Vonnegut's words a little, I'd also add that we can prevent feeling hopeless by creating our own high points, our own special moments. We give ourselves something to look forward to, instead of just waiting for it to happen.

Life is monotonous, no doubt about it. But isn't it a little more bearable when you schedule tea with a friend? Supper and card games with friends? Ice cream with family? A romantic overnight stay at a bed-and-breakfast with a lover? A fact-finding trip to the library with children? A walk around the block?

Our family (my mother and father included) is about 98% positive that we are flying to Alaska this summer to visit my brother, who's in the Air Force there. My dad, enthusiastic in the beginning, has begun already to balk at the ordering of plane tickets. Yes, it's expensive, but with a little tightening up of the purse strings, it's manageable. That's why we're booking so early - to save up.

I am looking forward to the trip in so many ways, and I can't fathom why my dad is reacting the opposite. He's not a fan of flying and he'll definitely experience some discomfort at being so far home from home for ten days, but really? A trip to Alaska? A place he and my mom will never visit again in their lifetimes? To see his only son?

I mean, seriously, if he can't get himself together enough for a super-special trip like this...what else in his life is worth getting out of bed for?

See, back to Mark Vonnegut...it's this trip and the people I'm traveling and visiting with that helps me get through this thing, whatever it is. It's what will keep me going when I get bogged down by schoolwork or naughty children or grouchy husband or life in general this winter - that I have something cool to look forward to.

And, while I'm anticipating, I try to make the best out of the days in between here and there. And just try to get through this thing.

Whatever it is.

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