Two years ago, this week, I tried to light a simple bonfire on a cold, deserted winter beach. I had all the tools and none of the skill. What should have taken 2 minutes took 30, but it was a rollicking good time. I remember uttering the words, “I’m a shitty girl scout.” You can read the whole story here, but thus, an idea was born. I decided to become a better scout, so to speak, at the age of 50.
I’m back at the scene of the crime this week. Yes, the phrase “scene of the crime” isn’t all that accurate, but something like “scene of the conception” doesn’t really roll off the tongue, either.
But here I am in Surfside Beach, TX for a winter break to chill, think, and write. That’s exactly why I came here two years ago, but things feel a little different now. Two years ago, I was feeling pressed for time. Actually, I felt pressed for Time with a capital T. On the near side of fifty, I felt enormously dissatisfied with my creative output and no answer to the looming issue: What Will I Do With The Rest Of My Life?
Again with the caps, know what I mean?
As I write this, two years later, I’m sitting at a table on a simple wooden deck, the Gulf of Mexico in front of me, Grateful Dead coming from the speakers behind me, a cup of tea to my right, and dog Freida to my left, chasing a gull from the fence.
Pinch me, baby, for this is a fine, fine life.
So what’s the difference between then and now? Yes, I can now confidently light a fire with a bunch of dry tinder and a single match, but I’m thinking right now it’s not the doing so much as the knowing I can do… something.
I liken it a bit to Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. All the time she spent in Technicolor only taught her that everything she wanted and needed had always been at her disposal. Dorothy reminds me that I don’t need to bungee-jump off the side of a bridge to feel a sense of wonder, excitement, or accomplishment. I just need to learn some shit, a little at a time, with regularity, to see where I need to go… next.
And that’s why this project stays interesting. Pushed slightly beyond comfort in small increments, learning happens. All any of us may need, in fact, is a simple framework for regularly stretching just a bit beyond. I don’t need to like everything I learn, I just need to say open to the experience. Example: I didn’t like learning to fix the leaky toilet for the Ms. Fix It badge, but I liked learning that I could do it on my own. A big, small victory, imho.
That’s it for now — another update from the scene of the crime coming in a day or two, a bit about the projects I’m tackling this week…