Everyday is a new battle of the mind for me. Some days I feel it more than others. What will I allow my thoughts to focus on today? How can I keep it positive. I am a realist by nature (this is what pessimists call themselves because they don’t want to label themselves pessimistic). I have to say I inherited this from my father, and please don’t hear me being at all critical of my father. His and my ability to think through a possible scenario completely and thoroughly is, like most things in life, both a weakness and a strength. We each married our own personal ray of sunshine to balance us out. I cannot let this topic go by without telling a story about my dad that passes through my mind every single time I catch myself being a little too “realistic”. One time when my 3 siblings and I were all young and living at home we were going on a road trip to somewhere. As you can imagine, with 4 children in a minivan for an extended period of time, junk started accumulating on the floor of said minivan. My dad, who, much like me, does not like chaos, opened the door to the van to let us out and found a cassette tape case lying right where we would all need to pass to exit the van. He then proceeded to explain how hazardous this situation was, and it went something like this:
“You know, someone could step on this tape case, causing them to slip and fall, which could lead to a broken arm, in which case we would all have to go to the hospital, and since we don’t know our way around we would have to stop and ask someone for directions to the hospital, and since people don’t usually give good directions we would probably end up lost, and then it would be getting late, so we would just have to sleep on the side of the road, and then the police would find us sitting there, which is probably illegal, and he would have to take us to prison, and the one with a broken arm surely wouldn’t get any help there, and one of you would end up with an amputated arm and the rest of us in jail.”
I’m sure the years since this has happened have probably exaggerated this story just a little in my mind, but we all laughed and said something like, “oh, dad”, and it has become one of those iconic stories that always gives me a good chuckle. What’s great about my dad is that he has lead the way for me in teaching his negative leaning mind to think positively, and here is one of many things I have learned from him. One of the best ways to fight the blues is this: adventure.
This may seem like an unlikely solution, and the reality of it has only just now occurred to me, but I believe that some of the times I feel the most alive, the most connected with God, are when I feel that I am on an adventure. I am sure that my love of adventure came from both my parents, who used to read the Chronicles of Narnia to me and push me to do the things I felt scared to do. Long hikes and camping trips with my dad always felt like adventures to me. Any time I felt nervous (especially when my parents were dropping me off at college for the first time and I was scared to death) my mom would say, “You’re off on an adventure!” And that somehow tipped the scales from the feeling that I am facing a mountain that I will never be able to climb to the feeling of hopeful expectation of what I will see on the other side when I reach the top.
Sometimes the adventure is more apparent than others. Setting off with my three siblings on a trek down a creek that we don’t know very well to find a destination we aren’t very sure of: definite adventure. Going to college in another state at a school where I know very few people: adventure. Going to grad school with very little research experience in a new huge city that I don’t know and trying to figure out life on my own at the same time: adventure. Leaving everyone and everything that I know to start a new life with my husband in Africa: adventure. But what about now? Am I still on an adventure waking up everyday to feed my children breakfast, take them to school, and come home to care for my two-year-old? Don’t forget the almost daily trip to the supermarket (and sometimes that is more of an adventure than I would care to admit). I really can see now why some people experience a midlife crisis. We are driven by a desire for adventure. It keeps our minds sharp and spirits high. But adventure is all around us. Adventure is all around me. It is not a specific situation, it is a state of mind. Right now my adventure is not the “make a movie out of her life” kind, but it is there. I am challenging myself spiritually, because no matter how much I know about God, He remains a mystery to be discovered. No matter how many cool people I meet, there are more cool people out there doing amazing things that I have never heard of before. No matter how many times I look at the beauty of the ocean, I can always look again, and be awe-struck. Every day my children do something new that amazes me. I never tire of their kisses. And life could change in a second, so I can’t afford to put my life into cruise control. Maybe I need someone like Steve Martin in The Pink Panther who constantly “surprise” attacks his partner to keep him sharp. I need it both as a warning and because that is what I was made for. Maybe God put this need for adventure in my life because it keeps me alive and it brings me LIFE! So let me go and see what adventure waits for me today. After all, “zee wezzer eez very mild right now, don’t you seenk?”