Hey guys, what about me? Pick me, please pick me, please…. Guys? This photo makes me smile as well as cringe too. Did you ever experience being the last one chosen for a team? Probably. This was a common and painful occurrence in my childhood that many of you can identify with. About the only time this didn’t happen was when your best friend was the one in charge of picking teams, right? Thank God for friends! However, it was usually one of the more athletic kids, or the popular ones, who were appointed as team leaders. Me— bookish, gangly, uncoordinated, a little bit shy and a whole lot awkward.
How about you?
Growing up memories like these play an important role in your life story. Mine the deep dark depths for the emotion. What parts of those life lessons did you take forward into adulthood?
Do you have a greater sense of compassion because of a painful experience? Describe the how and why.
Did you hone your comic skills out of self preservation or to cope? Many famous comedians have—you’d be in good company. The great comic Robin Williams (1951-2014) once said:
“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy. Because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anybody else to feel like that.”
In a blog post for Psychology Today the day after Robin died, author Mikhail Lyubansky, Ph.D wrote, “So, when you see someone putting on a good show, go ahead and laugh. Robin Williams wouldn’t have had it any other way; neither would the kids I’ve met. But don’t let the humor fool you.”
Are you a better parent, friend, employee because of your empathy? Or maybe you’re inclined to feel anger at injustice. This resiliency shows up in folks who lived through the depression and learned to make do. It shows up in the sense of justice and honor found among many veterans and others who have lived through circumstances much more serious than being picked for a team or not.
Write about it. Talk to someone you admire and ask what helped them learn resiliency. Share your thoughts on resiliency and learning from the hard stuff with the next generation, they need to hear it!
We spent a couple months in New Zealand several years ago. One of the last things we did before heading back to the US was something called Blackwater Rafting. Not all of us remember this positively, but that’s their story. For me there were some pretty profound moments. Well, actually you might call it flat out fear—but you decide for yourself:
9:00 a.m. Blackwater Rafting. Struggle into thick wet-suits, then drive over to the river to get the inner tubes (flotation devices the guide calls them in her charming accent). We will use these during the adventure. In the southern hemisphere it’s fall and the river is quite low with a dark channel on one side and a deep pool with a white sandy bottom. Beautiful. The guides walk us out to the end of a dock where there are two platforms to jump from, one rising 10 feet above the current water line for use during high water and another at about four feet. It starts to feel like the gangplank scene in every pirate movie I’ve ever watched.
We had to jump off the dock backwards, holding the tubes onto our rumps. Shock of icy water, went all the way under like a bobber snagged by a giant fish. My first thought was a gasping, “I paid money for this?!!” However, the wet suit warms up pretty quickly and there was a fair bit of laughter among the spluttering as the rest of the group plunked over the side.
We are headed to a wild cave with this river running through it; it’s rough walking over the rocks to reach the entrance. And it’s chilly enough to see our breath. Our guides were two stunning, athletic young New Zealand women. In the first part of the cave we float almost flat on our backs and push along the ceiling just a few inches above our faces.
Note: Did you know that there is no suing in New Zealand? For example, if a tourist bungee jumps off the bridge and the rope breaks. Well—ta ta! You had fun going down! As a result they have all these amazing adventures available, great fun but you take full responsibility for the risk. I think they might actually have a good idea, but that’s another soapbox.
Any rate, back to the river. Our little tour group of floating rubber sausages came to a spot where we were supposed to jump backward, again, but this time off a waterfall. In the dark cave. “Oh by the way, make sure you jump far out so you miss the rocks.” The guide, who by this time I was silently screaming unkind things about, had morphed into Amazon Warrior Woman in my mind. She stared down at my nice middle aged mom self from her six foot height and kept telling me to get closer to the edge. Backwards. “Are you ready?” “No.” “Are you ready now?” No, not yet.” Her, irritated, “I’m going to push you.” “Okay, okay, I’m going.” Actually I’m not sure I voiced anything out loud but there were sure a lot of panicked words going through my adrenaline rushed brain. And one ridiculous line from the movie “Muppet Christmas Carol” “God save my little broken body!”
Cold-cold-cold. Instant body part evaluation, intact, didn’t hit the rocks. Well, thank you, Jesus! Then we floated through caverns with stalactites of all sizes hanging down and glowworms all over the ceiling like gorgeous star constellations. It was surreal. We stopped and just floated below a “waitomo,” a natural window opening into the cave from the ground 60 meters above our heads.
It was worth it but wow, what an adventure. And I tell you, it all came back when I went to see Wonder Woman at the theater recently. I’m pretty sure Guide Girl had a role as an extra.
Now go capture some adventure memories–here’s your tips:
Grab a recorder, your phone or pencil and paper (yes, they still sell this). Find someone to talk to for 30 minutes.
How old were they?
Where did they go?
Who were they with?
Was it what they expected?
How do they remember the event?—smiles, laughter, fear, embarrassment, anger? Explore the emotions
Yellow, two tone paint job where the rust spots had been primed and painted over with spray paint, nearly bald tires, oversized speakers crammed in the back window.
We drove Old Yeller cross country several times between home in New Mexico up to Wisconsin. Its story is linked with the early days of dating and a long marriage. Bought for $1 from my husband’s father; it was the gallant steed that took us across a wide country, away from home to adventure and independence.
We moved in January. Our first week in the north country, we stopped to fill up the gas tank and the man across the pump from us, leaned back, took a look at the license plate and kindly advised us to go home for the day. The temperature had stalled at about 0 degrees and he said it would be safer to explore on a warmer day, giving us a quick lesson in surviving bitter cold. It didn’t take long to learn the routine of dressing in layers, carrying cat litter in the trunk for traction in case you got stuck on the ice, packing a sleeping bag and water too in case of blizzards. We learned early the ease of pushing this little button of a car out of snow banks and we often took it out exploring.
After a couple years Old Yeller’s heater was stuck in the on position. So in summer, the driver’s left foot would nearly ignite under the blast furnace of the heater. But in winter the defrost didn’t work so driving required holding your breath and spraying the inside of the windshield with a jumbo can of de-icer while stopped at a red light. Memorable–and we don’t seem to have killed off too many brain cells.
One cross country trip we drove through an Oklahoma thunderstorm with water shooting up the through the cracks in the floor board. Blew a plug on another trip back to New Mexico and got stuck in the sooner state in a tiny town with “Jesus loves you and so do we” billboards. The garage repairman tried to fix the plug for free and offered for us to stay at his home. We were traveling with our cat and full of adventure so thanked him and opted to sleep in an alfalfa field outside town. Awakened by ominous, growling thunder and rising wind, we stuffed the cat into the front of my coat while my husband shouldered the backpack. By the time we got to town the runoff was hurtling knee high down the street.
This car carried us and our friends on many a camping trip, backpacks stuffed under the front hood that covers the trunk in a VW. I still have a cherished photo of a memorable flat tire incident we shared. Frozen lug nuts. We were eventually helped by an old school gentleman of a crusty rancher way out on that New Mexico back road. We look so young.
Yeller drove us around town on dates, cardboard box of pizza in the back seat, delivered us to glorious sunset picnics on the mesa, oldies station playing on the radio. Once a curious coyote pack yipped their way too close for comfort and we hopped back in the car. From back roads and camping trips to fancy dinners out and cross country moves, this faithful old car delivered.
Finally, the last year of college in Wisconsin, I got in the back seat so we could drive a friend somewhere and the battery fell through the floor out onto the parking lot. We sold Old Yeller for enough money to put side molding on a used truck. The new owner, another poor student, never registered it and it was abandoned and impounded.
I hope it eventually found a new life as some teenager’s hot rod. Thanks for the memories, Old Yeller.
Did you know that some studies say the average human’s attention span is 8.5 seconds? That’s less than a goldfish. No kidding. This “factoid” is dependent on the activity and who is conducting the study, however. As my old college professor explained,
On that note—here’s a shout out to all those folks over 70 who “remember the time” and a hundred little details from when they were knee high to a grasshopper.
Set a timer for 5 minutes (you can spare 5 minutes, right?) and write down every summertime memory you can think of. Don’t worry about grammar and punctuation; just get the bare thoughts down.
Here’s what I came up with:
Lying flat in tall alfalfa, staring at the clouds
Driving the hay truck
Horse sweat and sweet carrots
Shrieking at huge bullfrogs
Bareback riding in the cool morning
Hours long Monopoly games
Homemade peach ice cream on the back porch
Summer thunderstorms over the Organ Mountains
Scorching steam off vinyl car seats after swimming
Running across hot asphalt in bare feet
Too hot to sleep
Giggling sleepovers with school friends
Swimming in the well water in the ditch
Exploring the cool shade of the pecan orchard
Road trips to new places
Selling garden veggies from the red flyer wagon
Burned hot dogs and marshmallows
Walking barefoot through the garden
Cold dew in the morning
Dodging toads during flashlight tag
Sparklers and the ouch of stray embers
Playing in the grass with the dog
Now that you’ve done your 5 minute memory list you have story starters for a whole set of memories you can expand on. You’re welcome! Have a wonderful summer weekend.