Just when I start to feel sorry for myself, being isolated and so bone-weary of it, stuck at home with dismal, overcast, gray skies in the throes of winter, some thoughts cross my mind making me shake off my lethargic woe-is-me attitude and pause to be grateful.
It seems to be our human nature to always want what we can’t have. Some of us live our entire lives this way, always wanting more and more to fill up some vast void deep inside of us. We think that if we just had this magic cure-all, this latest do-thingy, this status-symbol invoking whatever, it will make us feel like we have a “good” life.
And really, all of those things we long for or thirst after are only just mirages. They never will make us feel whole and satisfied.
Dull, dreary surroundings get the best of me especially when sunshine is lacking. And I feel like I’m grasping for something that just isn’t there – that mirage image – instead of taking time to realize what I do have.
Do I have sunshine every day? Nope, not when I live in a part of my home state which is notorious for having more overcast days than not.
Can I travel too far outside my home right now? Nope. That dratted virus is still causing fear and panic.
Can I visit friends and family near and far? Nope due to a repeat of the above issue.
Can I explore new indoor places/activities/volunteer opportunities/social gatherings? Nope. Same story.
But…I must stop chasing after mirages, even if they’re only in my thoughts, and focus on the real, tangible blessings in my life right now.
I am well, even after a little mishap that kept me from spending any time on electronics or my favorite pastimes of reading and working on crossword puzzles for a couple of days.And all of my family is well also.
I possess all the necessities of life: clean water to drink, nourishing food to eat (and my spouse, Papa, who is enjoying cooking right now), a comfortable home that we own, our own transportation, heat to warm these cold days, electricity, clothes to wear, and means of communicating with family and friends even if I can’t see them in person.
I have companionship with my best friend and husband of 40+ years, and I am loved by family and friends. Furthermore, I have a God who listens, understands, and answers in His perfect way and timing when I tell my troubles to Him in prayer.
And I am reminded that I wouldn’t truly appreciate and be thankful for all of those treasures if life was always sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows. Sometimes it takes experiencing dark, difficult, and trying circumstances to consider the saving graces we do have and feel gratitude for them.
What brought all this to my mind? The following quote:
“All sunshine makes the desert.” ~ Arabian proverb
One entertaining game our family enjoys playing together is “would you rather?” Each participant is given a question to answer and the rest of us attempt to guess what answer will be chosen.
The questions range from silly and frivolous like “Would you rather have a unicorn’s horn or the bill of a duck?” to ridiculous like “Would you rather surf in shark-infested waters or jump free fall with a parachute into the Grand Canyon?”
But the questions can be more thought provoking as well. “Would you rather save the life of an elderly family member or the life of a child to whom you are not related?”
My first thought wasn’t about the would you rather game though. Instead, an old Simon and Garfunkel tune played through my mind.
“I’d rather be a sparrow than a snail. Yes I would. If I could, I surely would. I’d rather be a hammer than a nail….I’d rather be a forest than a street…I’d rather feel the earth beneath my feet.”
It’s all about choices. We make choices every day of this life. Some choices are inconsequential like choosing whether to have a ham or turkey sandwich for lunch. But some decisions we must make are monumental; even life-changing. And consequences may arise from those choices we make, so we better be wise as we decide.
Do we play it safe or go for the adventure? Should we soar like a sparrow through life, or plod along, feet firmly planted on the ground, like the snail?
Are we the driving force in our life decisions like the hammer or would we rather be driven by circumstances like the nail?
I admit I’m not always the most decisive person (just ask Papa who has withstood this trait of mine for 40+ years). I might even lean more towards the safe and secure side of choices rather than embrace the daring, adventurous one.
But every once in awhile, I surprise those who know me well.
Prior to our winter retreat in Arizona to visit my sister and brother-in-law, our oldest daughter and son-in-law also flew westward and spent some time there.
Daughter and son-in-law are the adventurous type. They love trying new experiences in new places.
They’ve been bitten by the travel bug and the only way to appease the wanderlust venom running through them is to plan exciting and thrill-seeking trips to different areas around the world, which they do as often as their pocketbooks allow.
While visiting Arizona, they were treated to an ATV excursion into the desert with aunt and uncle, who have been quad riding for years with a group of retired RV’er friends. Since my sister and brother-in-law no longer own horses, quad riding has become one of their favorite past-times.
For some time now, Bro-in-law has been itching for us to come visit their Arizona home and go on ATV treks with him because he was certain my hubby would get a kick out of it. Of course, our daring offspring were more than ready and raring to try it out themselves when they visited and they had a blast.
But apparently sometime while discussing the fact that her parents (us) would soon make the trip to Arizona also, our daughter was fairly certain that her Mama would not want to go ATV riding. Papa, yes, absolutely. Mama, not so much. At least that’s what daughter thought.
Fast forward a few weeks later. Mama and Papa were sitting in Sis and Bro-in-law’s living room discussing excursion plans for the week with them. And of course, ATV riding came up. Sis and Bro-in-law looked at me apprehensively and Sister tentatively asked me, “Would you want to go?”
“Sure, why not?” I responded. That’s when Sis spilled the beans that Daughter had said, “Mom won’t want to go.”
I was incredulous. Why not? Okay, I thought, maybe she believed the bone-jarring rough-riding up and down steep hills for miles and miles strapped into a side by side all-terrain vehicle would be too much for this old lady, but her aunt and uncle are over a decade older than me and they manage it quite nicely.
Maybe Daughter just thought her Mama has no sense of adventure. Uh, wrong. I still enjoy excitement and trying something new and different from my normal routine.
So off we roared. Brother-in-law and Sis in one side by side 4WD all terrain vehicle; Papa and I following behind with Papa at the wheel of another.
We drove down to the end of their street and rumbled out into the desert. Up and down steep rocky trails, winding out in nature so completely different from what we are used to, among the cacti and the dust, we thoroughly enjoyed a 24-mile round trip ride on our first go-round.
And I loved it! So much so, we went again another day on a 34-mile trip and Papa and Brother-in-Law took at 60-mile ride one afternoon while Sis and I shopped.
And guess what? When it comes to a winter time desert excursion, which would I prefer? Sitting in an enclosed vehicle driving down the highway viewing the scenery from a car window? Or riding in the passenger side of a side by side ATV out in the open air and sunshine, gazing at the desert views through a helmet shield for miles and miles?
I’d rather be in the southwestern Arizona desert on a cool, winter’s day with the ones I love soaking in amazing sights and sunshine on an exhilarating ATV ride, hanging on for dear life, stopping for a little lunch miles away from the hustle and bustle of town.
I’d rather be adventurous, at least some days, when the circumstances and the company are right.
“One’s destination is never a place but rather a new way of looking at things.” ~ Henry Miller