Putting My Best Foot Forward

When I really, really like someone, or when I’m on a job interview, I try to put my best foot forward to make a good impression. Everyone does that, I’m sure. The thing is, when I feel like I’m making this extra effort to be accepted, deep down I feel like a fraud since it’s more effort than I’d usually make. And then I start to wonder if my fraudulence is visible. And then I get nervous. And then I invariably say something stupid or desperate or pathetic. And then I blow it.

At the moment those situations are even more full of tension, because if I don’t get a decent job soon, I may wind up out on the streets. And the fatter and older I get, the narrower my window of opportunity becomes to ever share a bed again with someone other than my dogs. So there’s a lot at stake in both scenarios. And that makes me blow it even more phenomenally.

It’s like I’m on this downward plunge toward blowits-ville. The plane is hurtling toward the earth, and I keep thinking, “Pull up! Pull up!” and my knuckles are white on the controls and yet I don’t see any change in trajectory. At first this trend was mildly amusing. I thought it was a phase. The pendulum always swings back the other direction, doesn’t it? But the earth is getting so close that I can barely see the sky anymore, and it’s scaring the shit out of me.

Today I looked heavenward and said, “Tell me what to do and I’ll do it. Just tell me. Because I have run out of ideas.” Unfortunately, there have been no voices from a burning bush, no bolts from the blue, no Publisher’s Clearinghouse van full of balloons and a big fat check.

Putting my best foot forward only seems to keep me off balance. I think I need ice cream. Yeah, that’s it.

best foot

[Image credit: doomandbloom.net]


Ospreys as Analogies

We’ve heard the expressions “stubborn as a mule”, “dogged resistance”, markets that are “bullish” and “bearish”, and I really, REALLY would love an explanation for this one: “happy as a clam”. We often use the qualities of various animals to better describe our world. In the past couple of months, I have come to realize that we ought to use the term “osprey-like determination” as well.

I recently wrote a blog entry about the ospreys that have nested near our bridge, and my coworkers and I have been observing them with much anticipation. There’s nothing quite as exciting as watching nature taking its course.

In one nest, the one in the middle of the creek that’s perched upon a channel marker, the more fortunate pair of ospreys performed admirably. Their mating, nesting, hatching and fledging went off like clockwork, although the smallest of the three chicks took several more days to leave the nest than her more adventurous siblings. Still, life went on for this family and it was a delight to observe.

Ah, but there’s always a neighbor who’s less fortunate, isn’t there? The other nesting pair, against all odds, chose to build their home on top of a traffic light. I have never seen the like of this duo. For months, with a permit to back them up, subcontractors for the Florida Department of Transportation would remove this nest on an almost daily basis, and the birds would rebuild it over and over and over again. Were they perplexed by the constant disappearing act of their nest? Impossible to say. But clearly this was their intended locale, and nothing would dissuade them.

Eventually the subcontractors aborted their mission, much to our satisfaction, and the pair settled in, taking turns keeping their eggs safe and warm. I would observe them every morning through binoculars, and they began to seem like part of the family. I came to realize that we have a lot in common.

For the past few years I have been doing everything I possibly could to move my life forward in some positive way, and it has been an enormous struggle. The odds have been against me as well. Some of my efforts have borne fruit, but even more of them have ended in disaster. Despite some really poor choices, I’ve kept trying and kept trying and kept trying, because, really, what’s the alternative? One can only curl up in the fetal position with the sheets over one’s head for so long.

Sometimes, like my osprey friends, I would sit on my figurative nest day in and day out, resigned to reach my goals in spite of the drudgery or sheer boredom required to achieve them. I cannot think of anything more tedious in nature than sitting on a nest for more than a month as ospreys have to do. That’s the epitome of perseverance.

After all this effort, on my part and on theirs, I wish I had a happy ending. This is, after all, an American tale, and we do love and expect our happy endings, don’t we? Unfortunately, we began to notice that these ospreys would abandon their nest for hours at a time. This was not standard behavior, but we continued to hold out hope for a few weeks, because they never went far, and they always came back eventually. But then one day they simply left, and have only been back for brief moments since then. Clearly something went tragically wrong. Their eggs never hatched, and eventually they realized it was time to give up and move on. The nest still stands, all but abandoned and cold.

These ospreys demonstrate the cruelest of life lessons. Sometimes, as much as we may hate to admit it, it’s time to give up and move on. Ironically, that’s exactly where I am in my life. It’s kind of a mourning process, and it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. It does not seem natural. It does not seem fair. But it is what it is.

Like the ospreys, I am now faced with trying to figure out where to go from here. What does one do when nature absolutely refuses to take its course despite all efforts? Where does one go, how does one cope? I feel as if I am in free fall, plummeting toward some very, very hard ground. Will I survive? Will I pull up at the last minute and take flight? Nature isn’t particularly sentimental about these things. Some of us are bound to be road kill. If everyone were a resounding success, then would it really feel like success? There are people at both ends of every bell curve.

God knows I’ve tried. I’m beginning to suspect that it really isn’t up to me. Only time will tell. The ospreys will most likely try again next year. Will I? We’ll see.


(Image credit: westernviews.us)