So I was just reading through my quasi-roommate Gabe Proulx’s blog and I realized that I felt like blogging myself. I’ve been sitting here all night sort of bored yet engaged in writing a mysterious new piece of software which shall be known to you only as “Siegfried”, but code-slavery just wasn’t doing it. I’ve been inspired to make the shift back into the realm of natural languages.
I’ve been in Washington for a while. You know, that’s where I grew up. I’m back in my sweet, sweet homeland of southeastern Washington State, and I find myself still in love with the place and its people.
A week after arriving in Washington, I went with my sister and her family to California, which was really cool. I hadn’t been to Disneyland since I was something like 8 years old, so going back was a significant return to childhood for me. I really liked it, and, as I have told a few people, I think that visits there early in my life are part of why I never cared much for any other amusement park I’ve been to: Disneyland is an amusement park the way an amusement park should be: It’s clean. There are lots of drinking fountains. Smoking is minimal. Once you’re in, you can go on any ride (no tickets required). They don’t care if you take pictures of the photo previews they show at the end of a ride. The atmosphere is happy! Every ride is detailed and exciting, and seems like an attempt to let you experience something incredible that you have little chance of experiencing in real life, like space flight, or a pirate raid, or an Indiana Jones-style escape from a runaway boulder.
On the way home we drove through Northern California’s redwoods, which were magnificent. We stopped on a beach and just walked around for a while. The ocean is freaky and mysterious, but I also find it soothing to simply be there and hear the waves and smell the clean air.
While we were at California Adventure I surprised myself by confronting my fears of heights (Soarin’ Over California), upside-down rollercoasters (California Screamin’), and plummeting to likely death (Tower of Terror). For me this was a really big deal. I have always been such a scaredy-cat! No, seriously, a real wimp! Well, big, grown-up boy that I am, I was actually able to go on all of these rides that made me so nervous beforehand. It was like slaying an until-then undefeatable giant.
Maybe it’s because I’ve seen and experienced some very scary things that I didn’t know how to deal with, but I’ve noticed that my fears are always way out of proportion to actuality. My fears about the rides at California Adventure were that way—none of them was even half as frightening an experience as I expected. It was also like that when I ended my over-long hiatus from meaningful dating early this year. Paralysis because I feared devastating heartbreak had to give way to actually trying and to actually caring in order for me to progress, but I was terrified! The seeming caprice of prior failures, the painful losses of invested emotion. It took some counsel from compassionate friends to help me to make the leap of faith. And it worked out. It wasn’t so bad. It was a good experience.
Maybe more terrifying still was confronting one of my past interests in order to find out why exactly she had chosen not to pursue things. I didn’t realize just how hard the ambiguity was for me until a friend discussed a similar situation. I then realized that that would continue gnawing at me until I had the guts to ask her why, to cut through the generalities which were meant to protect me but which were really like a piece of shrapnel festering under the scar-marked surface. It’s a hard thing to walk up to somebody and demand that they perform an invasive shrapnel removal operation. But that’s what I had to do.
When she acquiesced, it set me free somehow. It was wonderful! She gave me her real reasons for calling a halt to the relationship, and they conformed exactly to my earlier suspicions. It wasn’t the knowledge of the reasons that made a difference, really. It was getting her to deal straight with me. It was having enough respect for myself to ask for an explanation. To stop telling myself to just ignore that dull, occasionally stabbing, pain underneath the old wound, but to let myself get that hunk of rusted old metal removed.
“You’re Stronger Than You Think You Are”
An interesting observation resulting from staying at my sister’s house: I think I actually could do the parenting thing. I know I’ve still only had to deal with a small portion of my niece’s and my nephews’ craziness, and yet I feel confident that, especially with some of the skills I’ve begun to learn while here, I could do it. That’s a pretty encouraging thought!
A good friend of mine told me several times, “You’re stronger than you think you are, Josh,” and I think I’ve actually started to believe it. To believe that perhaps the long-raging fires of adversity have wrought something more than just pain within me. What if they really have tempered me, made me stronger?
The Other Trip
We’re also mid-way through the year (or very nearly). I’ve really been blessed this year. All of these blessings—including those resulting from this trip home—I attribute to God’s great kindness in my life.
Well, my eyes are drooping downward in sleep. Thanks for reading, and good night!