My Own Share of Beating Some Odds in Life
We Get Born like That: No Credit to Be Taken
If you asked a daring person what makes them think they can, they might just give you a devilish smirk and say: "I don't think I can - I know I can". I am quite familiar with that kind of crazy mentality, because I happen to be one. Not in every area of life though, but selectively---yes.
In more instances than I could remember, I didn't ask for any assurance, any support from anyone, or any encouragement to throw myself head on into uncertainty with a policy that could have inspired that song "Que Serra, Serra". As you can tell, I am not inclined to go through life asking "What if...", and so far I have no regrets, only some mistakes to laugh at.
Those moves that turned out without expected rewards contained a seed of a lecture to be learned, and my life school had quite a few of those. Have I finally graduated from that school? No, I hope not, there are some more daring things to be done before the game is over, with some more mistakes to be made.
Well, they say: "We are not foolish if we make mistakes, we are foolish if we repeat the same ones." So, if some of my future daring steps---small as they may be considering my age---end up being mistakes, at least I'll try to make them fresh, not duplicates of some old ones.
Our Gypsy Mentality
Let me share with you a few of such stories from my daring collection of memories. The first that comes to mind is the one about my decision in 1981 to sell everything and move to Los Angeles, and I don't mean from San Diego but from Toronto, Canada. That was to be our second emigration, the first being the one from our native Croatia to Canada 13 years earlier - when we also quit our jobs, and without a job waiting for us set our foot into the unknown.
O.K., this time it was supposed to be a little different---although not entirely smart, as it turned out. My wife had a well settled sister in L.A., and with her sponsorship papers being in order, as well as all other documents, everything looked pretty much straightforward. Except that it was not.
We already had our plane tickets booked, quit our jobs, sold out or gave away everything of our household - when we found out that at the initial visit to the American embassy the clerk missed circling two necessary documents that had to be obtained from Croatia.
One was about my completed military service there, and the other about my clear criminal record. To make it worse, we got one week to get those documents, or our case would be postponed for 3 months.
So, what do you do? Our small savings didn't allow me to take a plane to Croatia. Those were the moments when I would get yet another chance to see how it was simply alien to my nature to despair---as in my guts I just knew that there must have been a solution, and I just didn't know it as yet.
By the time we came home from the embassy, I already knew what to do. I phoned our folks in Croatia, and ask them to get those papers for me. Then I instructed them to go to the airport and find a "nice looking person" ready to board on the first plane to Toronto, ask them if they would be willing...; then to give us a call and describe the person and tell us about their due arrival time.
Well, it all went just as I planned. Fast-forwarding here---we stayed in L.A. for some months, moved to a friend's house in Portland, Oregon, went back to L.A., and back to Canada. How is that for a gypsy mentality? O.K., I know you got some other names for it which you won't use out of a sheer politeness.
It was a recession time in America, and with some other unforeseen circumstances, we landed back here to start our household again "from the spoon up". Crazy? Not really, just a valuable experience also mixed with some unforgettable memories which we would never have had if we had just got anchored at one Canadian address and stayed there.
From Bed to a Mountain Top
Back in my teenage years, on a hot and hazy summer night I would toss and turn in bed, until it became too much of a challenge of thinking about a possible alternative.
I still don't know why I didn't opt for merely a walk around the block, but got that insane idea to take a streetcar to the foothills of the wooded mountain and climb it to the top.
Well, I had done it many times, and I was reasonably familiar with that somewhat tricky trail through the woods---but never at night when the moon was providing the only light. To the defense of my sanity, I did drop the silly idea a few times before I finally succumbed.
Those two hours of brisk climbing that it would have normally taken me to get to the top stretched to some three and a half, while I was careful enough not to get lost in woods. But I made it to the top.
There I sat down, facing the lit up panorama of the city far below, wiping sweat off my face and neck, and shaking my head with a smile of accomplishment. Then and there I understood that person who---asked why he wanted to climb a mountain--- said: "Because it was there".
Freezing a Myth to Its Death
On a certain very cold winter day in my late teens, my cousin, a strange dude--- actually a very strange dude with some traces of a schizoid nature---mentioned to me how he was writing a script for an "experimental" movie.
He was a member of a cinema-club, and that's what those movies were called, more like todays little longer videos. They were silent, with just a background music, and had a purpose to metaphorically depict some life truisms.
So he was telling me about it, not forgetting to mention that he doubted that he would be able to find a crazy guy to play the part, because according to his script such a sucker would have to be dressed only in a white t-shirt and white jeans in that freezing weather. Well, I must have ignored that part or something because I heard my mouth blurting out: "I have a white t-shirt and white jeans".
It was snowing that day, and the temperature was way bellow freezing, when our little group of a girl, my partner in that act of insanity, my cousin, a makeup dude, and myself braved to a meadow behind the city cemetery covered by two feet deep snow at some places. They were well camouflaged in several layers of winter clothing, and still shaking and pulling their heads into shoulders turtle style.
It took us about an hour to do the "movie". At the end, at a sudden spike of spitefulness toward weather - but mostly to show off my very hairy chest, I took my shirt off and laid my body on someone's grave covered with snow. Getting my deserved applause I got up, turned theatrically towards the grave and bowed with an apology for disturbing.
Other than for the effect of showing off, in that spiteful moment I was also debunking a myth. Namely, around my puberty time I was twice very sick on my lungs - and I don't mean just a pneumonia. Ever since, my grandma being my guardian angel would watch me like a hawk at winter time to make sure that I was putting on enough of clothes "to protect my sensitive lungs".
For an irony I chose to break that spell by laying my body on a grave - but well, what can I say, that was my way of making use of those crazy teenage hormones.
See Your Own Crossing Stones
I see myself as just an ordinary fellow without anything heroic about me. These stories had a modest purpose to show how it doesn't take more than a liberated spike of daring in guts to say "Yes, I can!" and then do things that we would never do if we always asked for a counsel of our sensible and cautious mind.
We could metaphorically compare it to an act of crossing a creek with some stones sticking out from water and forming a sort of irregular line stretching across it. The only way to do it right is to take a little sprint and by hardly touching those stones with our feet make it to the other side. Should we step on each one and pause, "planning our next step", we would likely end up falling in the water.
That's how I see some situations in life. So, go ahead, recognize those sticking stones in your own situations that are testing your metal---and then imagine me, if you care, on the other side waiting to welcome you with an applause.
For, change is the most delicious spice of life---if not the very ignition spark of it.