Deepest, Tallest, Longest, Highest

What is this fascination that we have with record-breaking things? The tallest building. The deepest ocean, the longest bridge, the highest mountain. We often visit these things when we travel. It’s like we can then claim them. By being there, we win some sort of psychological prize.

When I see the pictures of the crowds of people trying to summit Mount Everest, they make me cringe. You’ve paid tens of thousands of dollars to risk your life. You’ve given up weeks of time to acclimate to high altitudes. And there you are, scuttling amongst a bunch of other people in crowds that are better suited to Times Square during a New Year’s celebration. It defies logic.

We may think we are some higher form of animal, but what we seem to be doing is marking our territory like the average stray dog. I don’t really understand the instinct. It’s exceedingly strange.

But I can’t say I’m immune to it. I recently gazed upon the largest Ponderosa pine in the state of Oregon, and crossed over the longest continuous truss bridge in North America (the Astoria-Megler Bridge). While we didn’t go out of our way to cross this particular bridge (it was on our route), it was beautiful. We did go out of our way to see the tree, which was also pretty amazing. If I had seen a tree that was six inches shorter, though, I’m sure it would have been equally amazing.

You know what? I didn’t feel like a different person after either experience. Neither one was transformative.

I don’t want to discourage anyone from traveling. It’s my reason for being, so who am I to judge? But I think this instinct to see the biggest and the best often makes for a letdown.

This… thing that many of us seem to be searching for is elusive at best, and profoundly disappointing at worst. Nothing tops our imaginations.

Everest

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Oh, Happy Day!

One of my favorite sayings is that a fish doesn’t realize it’s in water until it jumps out of it. I can totally relate to that. I just jumped out of something myself. Epic revelation!

I just got some really, really, really good news, which unfortunately I can’t share with you, dear readers. Just think about the best news you’ve ever heard in your life, and it’s on that level. The news is so good, in fact, that I’m feeling a little nauseous from sheer relief.

And therein lies the situation I just jumped from. Yes, I knew I had been under an incredible amount of stress. Yes, I knew it was making me miserable. But having the problem whisked out from under me like a tablecloth yanked out from under my mother’s best china, with nary a break, is, well, life-changing. There’s adrenaline involved, for sure. I don’t think I realized just how much the situation was impacting me on the most fundamental of levels.

I. Am. Free!!!!!!!!!

That’s an odd feeling. Because up to this moment I didn’t realize I hadn’t been free. I didn’t truly get how shackled I was to my stress and anxiety.

I feel like jumping in puddles! I feel like kissing someone! I feel like a new person. What a gift!

It’s moments like this that make life truly worthwhile. I hope that you get to have a similar experience at least once in your life. And when you do, I hope you recognize it for what it is: a leap out of your personal pond. Revel in it!

Joy

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On Leading Horses to Water

I have this unique gift. I know what’s best for everybody except, perhaps, myself. At least, that’s the reality I choose to live in much of the time. It’s really easy to look at people’s lives from the outside and come up with quick and easy solutions for them, isn’t it?

The real challenge is keeping one’s opinions to oneself. Usually that comes with age and experience. I must admit I still struggle with this sometimes.

For example, I know an amazing young lady who is talented and charismatic and creative and intelligent and thin and beautiful. She should be the queen of the world. But she drinks. A lot. I mean… a lot. As far as I know, she doesn’t let this impact her work, but it looms large the rest of the time. It breaks my heart. I want to shake her until her teeth rattle. “You have so much going for you! Don’t do this!”

I know another guy who hates his job and is constantly hunting for another one. He looks good on paper. He’s extremely intelligent and capable. He gets lots of interviews, but he never gets hired. He can’t understand why. I can. His personal hygiene leaves a lot to be desired. He looks and smells like he has been living in a cave his whole life. He’s actually kind of scary, if you don’t know him. From an employer’s point of view, this has to be a bit off-putting. If you can’t be bothered to take care of yourself, how can I assume you’ll take care of your job? I’m all for self-expression, but it can sometimes be self-destructive.

And then there’s this guy I have a crush on, who doesn’t seem the least bit interested in me. I mean, Hello! I’m amazing! I’m fun to be around, interesting to talk to, nurturing, non-smoking, fiscally responsible, great in bed… I’m a freaking catch! In other words, perfect for him. Why can’t he see that?

The bottom line is that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. If someone wants to be an alcoholic, look like a Neanderthal, or overlook true love, there’s nothing I can do about it. People have the right to walk their own paths. I don’t have to like it.

I get the “can’t make it drink” part. That’s obvious. But I often still try to lead those horses to the water. I really have to work on that. It’s a waste of time for them, and frankly, it makes me look like a pompous ass. Sometimes horses just prefer to roam free.

wild horses

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Assuming the Worst

When I was 11 years old, I brought some candy to school. They were those little, sugary mints that most kids have seen a million times. My best friend back then was kind of gullible, though, so when she asked me what it was, I told her it was drugs. I thought it was kind of funny, because by all accounts I was the most straight-laced kid on earth. I wouldn’t have a clue where to get illegal drugs. (Frankly, I still don’t.)

She saw me eat the candy, and bunch of my classmates did, too. I tried to tell her it was a joke, but she wouldn’t partake. I felt bad about that.

Then she went home and told her mother. Her mother called my house right after school, before my mother got home from work. And she screamed at me. I mean, she really, really screamed. She called me a little drug dealer and told me I was going to hell. I tried to explain, but she wouldn’t listen. She told me I was never, ever to talk to her daughter again, or I’d be in BIG TROUBLE.

So I didn’t. And that felt horrible for the rest of the school year. Then we each moved on to different schools and I never saw her again.

Lately that seems to be a recurring theme in my life– people assuming the worst of me. There has been a very sharp uptick of that since the most recent election. And it’s not even about things political most of the time. Is this the world we now live in? Hostile judgments at every turn?

It always takes me by surprise when these misunderstandings occur, because I have the exact opposite problem. I tend to assume the best of people, and then I’m shocked when they show me otherwise. So these negative assessments always feel like they’re coming way out of left field, and I’m generally so stunned that I can’t think how to defend myself.

The bottom line is that I seem to be losing people. And I can’t decide whether that’s bad or good. Where these people ever really my friends if they can think the worst of me? Should I have to work so hard to prove myself? Am I absolutely clueless as to the image I put across?

I really would go live in a cave somewhere if I could find one with wifi and pizza delivery. And a supply of sugary mints.

sugary-mints

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How Delicious It Is to Feed Your Ego

There’s nothing more satisfying than doing something you’re really good at. That feeling when everything falls into place. That sense of being in the zone. It’s almost like you have a calling. For a brief shining moment, you are superhuman.

Whether we know it or not, we all have a talent. If you think you don’t, you simply haven’t identified yours yet. It might be something basic, such as making the best pancakes. Or it could be something more complex, like having the ability to memorize pi to the 22,000th digit. But you have a certain something, I guarantee you. Ask friends and family, “What am I good at?” You’ll see a pattern emerge.

I used to know a guy who made the most amazing pottery you’ve ever seen. I haven’t spoken to him for about 20 years, but I still have some of his pots sitting on my shelf. His was a rare talent, and it made me crazy that he had absolutely no plan to make something of it. He used to say to me, “Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you have to do it.” And in fact, he became an electrician. You’d think he’d at least have a pottery wheel in his garage, but no.

I don’t think you have to make a living from your special abilities, whatever they may be, but it’s a great disservice to your soul and to the wider world if you don’t exercise the gifts you are given in some capacity. Let your light shine.

special

[Image credit: community.becomeanex.org]

The Best of The View from a Drawbridge

I cannot believe it, but today is the one year anniversary of my blog! What a ride this has been. I’ve managed to post an entry every single day for an entire year. I would have never guessed I’d have this much to talk about.

By writing this much I’ve learned a great deal as well; about myself, about various topics, and about the people who have been kind enough to leave comments on my many posts. I’ve also made a lot of new friends and been introduced to a lot of unique perspectives. I am very grateful for this experience. It has been, and will hopefully continue to be, one of the highest points in my life.

At the time of this writing, I have 168 followers, and an average of 35 views per day. I have received 2,842 comments, and people from 102 different countries have stopped by. And that includes China, which is a country I never expected to see, given the internet restrictions there. Welcome, China! I hope someday North Korea will have the freedom to join you.

My most viewed entry, by a country mile, is Andy Johnson, SHAME on you!!! I guess people are just naturally drawn to descriptions of gross fraud by public figures.

My best title, in my opinion, is Weather, ‘tis Nobler.

My best sentence, without a doubt, is “Barack Obama eats boysenberry aspic on melba toast while doing the watusi in a frothy silk kimono.” That comes from my entry entitled I’m going Slightly Mad. You’ll just have to check it out if you want more details.

I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to decide which of my blog entries this year was the best, or at least which one is my favorite. This was not an easy job. I went back through every single entry and narrowed it down to four possibilities. From there I asked my friends to give me their opinions, and they were most gracious about taking the time to share their thoughts with me. The feedback was so overwhelming that I feel confident in saying that my best entry this year, by far, was How to give HORRIBLE Customer service.

I wanted to thank you, dear reader, for hanging in there with me this year. I hope that we’ll be enjoying each other’s company for many years to come.

My Stats _ WordPress.com - 2013-11-15_08.24.12

This is a map of all the countries who have stopped by to visit me. The list of countries on the left was so long that it actually scrolls off the page. Woo hoo! (Africa, I hope I’ll be seeing more of you soon.)