Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hot chocolate

Some days the challenges and struggles just seem too overwhelming to bear. The ache appears in many different guises, physically or emotionally. The neck screams, shoulders stoop. The clump of snow looks like the perfect target for a well-placed kick.

Sunday afternoon, I climbed the snowy hill out of the employees’ parking lot with amazing ease, my new snow tires on my Redster gripping as they should. Gears shifted to avoid the rumbly quirk to which I have grown accustomed, and I cruised home considering my solid footing on my life in transition and the recent ground gained.

No job lies on the horizon beyond an ocean of resumes, but flotsam drifts into place to keep a little money in the bank. A plan exists to get the basic bills paid. Words rush on to paper; the pages are sent out and returned with polite and encouraging notes. The key strokes continue to reward with satisfying comments. Musical notes open doors wider and a new song about a cool cat looms in the mist.

No sooner do I pat myself on the shoulder, however, then the car clunks with a sickening shudder and alarms scream in my head. After losing my truck to negligence and driving one mile too far, this time I pull over immediately to inspect the damage, but see nothing amiss. Back over 45 MPH, it is clear that something has worn dangerously thin. Too far from home to inconvenience someone for a lift and too expensive to tow, I limp along the back road next to the highway, gnashing my nerves and chilled with sweat.

Just as I warned my son I would be late to pick him up, the clunks and rattles became undeniable and suddenly the back end dropped with a crash. One wheel unperturbed spun along for 100 feet past me without looking back. In stunned silence, I stared into the darkening evening, too baffled to even wail.

At school, one can take a test and fail, clearly understanding the lack of answers to specific problems. In ski school, another can dismount and walk down, deciding the sport is just not what one should do. As I kicked and cursed my way along the snow bank towards a road house for warmth and a phone book, I was at a loss to even identify the questions.

Inside, a patron offered, “You get what you pay for”, hearing that I had just bought the car. My own perspective understood that the purchase had reduced my budget significantly in an attempt to live within my means. New tires were paid for instead of risking safety to “save” money. I have worked in these last years to reduce the stressful need for speed in my life, made conscious choices to live within calmer limits. I am doing The Work.

Likewise, I learned to ski a smoother, straighter line and translated that to the larger issue: deciding I could embrace a regular job with a steady pay check. Ironic that flooding the opportunities with my first resume in 30 years, it is lost in the sea of others looking for work.

Doors keep closing in the directions of my “shoulds” and open to my wants. I am invited to play music in ever wider circles as I broadcast my willingness. I have begun a similar blog for our local paper. Even with a long list of daily duties to perform, my heart rejoices and urges me to sit here at my desk and scribble late into the morning while thoughts are fresh and energy is high.

Sometimes we just have to stop wondering about the questions and move forward with what feels right, suspending the mind, ignoring the constant chatter, live with faith. Like skiing down a mountain, there comes a purity of motion. Still with turns rough and smooth, we come to the bottom, smile on our faces, choosing to ride up again or decide to head in for a little rest, warmth and a cup of hot chocolate. Whatever the heart decides, it usually knows best.

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persistentillusion said...

You're right...that absolutely feels authentic.

Laurie said...

Kip, oh my friend, I am so sorry your car had the issues it did. You are very perseverent and have a wonderful ability to keep putting one foot in front of the other. I know the progress you are making in your music is the sweet in the bitter sweet events of this post. I pray for you Kip. You are a worthy man, and I pray for you to find the success you want in your music and that life gets a little easier. If more people had your character, the world would be a better place.

Debra said...

I think you said it all - keep at it Kip. You know you're on the right road.