Saturday, April 25, 2009

Live Where You Play

So I took my trip to Dallas and, in a word, it was FABULOUS!!! Not without a few hitches, but it was truly fabulous. I am soooooooo glad I went. I hope you don't mind listening to me babble about it as I think I came away with some interesting food for thought. It may take more than one post to truly attend to my thoughts on this trip, so bear with me, okay?

First, let me say, my sister was terrific. Thank you Cathy,if you are reading this. I can't express in words how timely your hospitality was. Not just your hospitality, but your willingness to let bygones be bygones. We have had some differences in the past and truthfully I was worried that they would come into play while I was down in Dallas, but they did not. I had fun, I rested, I relaxed, and I recharged. I was able to do some thinking, and adjust my perspective a bit. It was also a huge help to be able to just have fun. My sister was thoughtful and attentive, and did exactly the right amount of planning. Her ability to go with the flow and be responsive to what I needed was admirable. I wish more people understood how to respond to someone in need (including myself).

I'll recap my trip for you so you can see what I mean. First, I caught a taxi to Logan airport. It was a bit pricey, but I don't do it often, so what the hey? The taxi arrived on time, at 6:45am (ugh!I am NOT an early riser) and we were off. The gentleman who was my chauffer was personable, professional, and prompt. He knew his way around the airport and delivered me to the curbside area for Continental Airlines. All I had to do was step out with my luggage (2 carryons), and check in with skycap.

I was two hours early for my flight, so I felt pretty comfortable. I went through security with only minor problems - my luggage was searched and they found a pair of scissors that I did not know was in my bag (thank you to my children for that I think). After confiscating them I proceeded through without further event.

After ascertaining the location of my gate, I decided to get breakfast at a bar in the area. I sat down, ordered my coffee and french toast, and pulled out a book I was going to read. It was an advanced manuscript copy of a book a friend of mine had asked me to read and review for her, called Heart of a Father. I had begun reading it the previous week, but hadn't had the time I was hoping for to complete it. I was hoping to read it on the flight so I could fill out her survey and give her feedback on the book prior to her sending it to her publisher.

While I was fishing around in my suitcase for the book, a young man pulled up to the bar. He had all his luggage stacked on what looked at first glance to be a wheelchair, but upon taking a second look turned out to be a hand cart. This gentleman looked to be in his early 30's, and the way he was dressed made me think of guys who like to hike in the wilderness, go rock climbing, and love extreme sports of all kinds. He had a bandanna on his head, wore hiking boots, and had a watch on each wrist.

When he pulled up, he said to me, "Do you mind if I pull up here? I don't want to crowd you or anything." I replied, "No, not at all, that's fine." I located my book and pulled it out to read.

"Waitress? Can I please have a beer?" he asked. I thought, "Geesh, this guy is already drinking at 8:00am? Definite problems there." Oh, how judgemental we can be. Without even knowing this man I had already assessed the situation and decided that he had, "issues." When I caught myself doing that, I mentally scolded myself, "Now, you don't know anything about this guy. Maybe he's just travelled from somewhere and his time zones are all goofed up. Besides, it's none of my business."

The "Guy with the Beer" extended his hand, "Hi, I'm Brian. What's your name?" I told him that I was Sheri and inquired about the two wrist watches. "Oh that. I wear the watch with my current time zone on my left wrist and the watch with the time zone I am going to on my right. That way I'm not calling people at the wrong time. It pisses them off when you do that. It also keeps me from missing flights. I've done that before. You know, you think you have two hours between flights but you don't account for the change in time zones."

I proceeded for the next hour and 15 minutes to have one of the single most interesting discussions I have ever had with anyone. I asked Brian what he was travelling for, business or pleasure. He told me both. He said he was a travelling surgical nurse on his way to work in Hawaii for the next six months. He was leaving his wife behind and was hoping to earn her ticket soon.

Brian soon began to inquire of me what my travel was about, business or pleasure. I told Brian that I was a stay at home mother with a part time third shift hospital job and that I was in desperate need of some rest and relaxation. I was hoping to regain some perspective on my life by taking this trip and needed to have some fun.

"You know, God likes us to have fun you know," Brian commented. "Most people don't realize that, but God loves it when we have a good time." Hmmm. Interesting. Most people I talk to either don't care at all about what God wants (if they believe in him), or they think God is only interested in us insofar as we can sacrifice all we are and have in his service. Short term missions to Uraguay to rebuild schools and evangelize the heathen masses. Soup kitchens. Ministries. Sunday schools. Picking up our cross. That kind of stuff. I don't often hear about a God who wants us to go rock climbing, hiking, water skiing and who likes to hear us laugh.

Tell me more Brian. Brian told me about his life and his philosophy. He said, "You gotta live where you play." Why slave your ass off for 50 weeks a year to spend a pantload of money to travel to where you have fun for a mere two weeks? That's no way to live. Brian told me about his life. He found several acres of land on a mountaintop dirt cheap, plopped a simple house on it with a generator and a woodburning stove, and he lives there with his wife year round. People tell him he's crazy to live that way...needing a snowplow on a regular basis to get to his home, having to chop cords of wood to keep heated, and navigating through the occassional blackout by firing up his generator. But he loves it. The manual labor helps him to clear his mind of clutter. He doesn't need a lot of money, and it allows him to pursue his passion as a travelling surgical nurse.

"I always feel like I have to be 'on' I told Brian. I never get to just enjoy life. I have chores, I have obligations, I have committments. I don't have fun."

Brian responded, "Take a bump." Huh? What are you talking about Brian? Before I had a chance to ask the question, Brian said, "If you are ever in a position where the airline asks you to accept a bump from a flight and you have the time, do it. It's totally worth it. And you can get some wonderful R&R that way, really." Brian let that thought sink in for a few moments."You know, I have been bumped 3 times from my flight to Hawaii, and I have almost earned enough for a ticket for my wife to come to Hawaii with me. In addition to that I have had the time to just relax. I don't start my job until Monday, so I can afford to just hang out. The airline has paid for my hotel and given me $600 towards another ticket I can use for my wife," he paused. "It's a great way to relax."

Thank you Brian, I thought. As I was thinking this Brian ordered another beer. I found myself thinking of that Jimmy Buffett song, "It's Five O'Clock Somewhere." Brian was travelling to Hawaii, and I don't remember how many hours behind or ahead of us they are, but I was sure that if he were there, having a beer would not seem so odd. The next time the waitress came by my table, I decided to order a Mimosa. I found myself internally toasting Brian and his philosophy.

The conversation shifted to technology. Brian wanted nothing to do with laptops, cell phones and the like. He was more into writing with an old typewriter he found at a landfill. He loved the clackety-clack of the keys and felt that it was more closely tied to his writing than the quiet click of keys on a desktop or laptop computer. "But I will probably eventually need one," he conceded sadly. "It's the wave of the future. Everyone MUST have access to these annoying devices." He refuses to use the internet, and more power to him. He views himself as one of the last hold-outs, refusing to be sucked into a world of instant gratification. Far too many people see what they want on the internet, hit a key, and presto! The item in question is delivered to their doorstep.

The world of instant gratification and technology led us to conversing about parenting styles. I personally object to raising my children to be connected to computers, television or video games for any real length of time. "When I was raising my children as youngsters," Brian said (and this was where I found out my assessment of his age was all wrong...he was 51), "if it was sunny outside they were told that was where they needed to be...outside. Go look at frogs, birds, bugs, whatever. Go play baseball, football, frisbee. Do whatever "girly" things you can outside. I didn't care. But they were not going to be indoors." Brian and I agree on that subject. It was refreshing to talk to someone else who saw a problem with teaching their children it was okay to be sucked into the mindless drivel on the television, or to play endless rounds of video-games that desensitize them to violence (I know, get off the soap box...but NO, I will not, it's my blog and I can say this if I want to)or to sit in front of a computer that pretends to have answers but doesn't really have good filters. Go outside. Interact with the world. Cut the cords that tether you inside during the sunny blissful days of childhood. Pick flowers. Throw mud. Ride your bike.

The Mimosa went down quickly as we talked more and I felt the drink going to my face, as alcoholic drinks usually do. I am a real lightweight when it comes to drinking and I often finish a drink with my face crimson and heated. I checked my phone for the time and saw that there was approximately a half hour before my flight departed. Even though I was thoroughly enjoying my conversation with Brian, I was anxious to get to my gate as I was fearful of missing my flight (how ironic I would find out later).

Brian got up, shook my hand, and then hugged me. It was nice to talk to someone who got it. Someone who saw how deceptively easy it is to get sucked into a busy life full of nothing. Full of computers, internet shopping and television. Full of empty jobs, oversized empty houses, and devoid of heart.

If Brian was any indication of how my trip was going to be, I was encouraged. Maybe I was making the right decision by going. Maybe it wasn't selfish of me to want to get away for a few days and regroup. Perhaps God had something to say to me and was using Brian to do it. Maybe he had more in store for me. Boy, I couldn't wait to hear it if so.

My five things:

1.) I'm soooo grateful for my sister Cathy
2.) I'm grateful for meeting Brian
3.) I'm grateful for a husband who can support my needs
4.) I'm grateful for possibilities
5.) I'm grateful for renewal

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