Since Kim and I set out nearly 8 weeks ago to wander the countryside, inspiring people to be out-of-doors more, we have been living our lives outside most of the time. To me, it’s the best perk of this job – every morning I wake up to bird songs and drink my morning cup of coffee in the fresh morning air of the forest. I do my best to not take this for granted any day.
But, living outside comes with one big downside: bugs. Bugs crawl over everything I own, constantly buzz into my eyes and ears, and bite the living s#!% out of me. I do my best to befriend the bugs, thinking that if I show them some compassion, that they will do the same for me. So I do things like not kill them when they bite me, limit my use of bug spray, etc.
When I went to shower this morning, as I entered the shower stall, I said hello to the 20 or so spider-friends that I had been showering with for the past week. These spiders were all relatively small – there was only one or two larger than a quarter – and dazzled me with their acrobatics as they repelled down from the ceiling on their invisible silk strands, creating their intricate webs.
This morning, though, there was a new friend with me in my shower: a giant beetle crawling along the floor. I said hello to him as I stepped over him and let him do his thing (whatever it is that beetles do in bathrooms).
About halfway through my shower, I looked over on the floor and saw my new friend on his back. Anyone who has seen a beetle on their back knows how pathetic they can look when this happens: their six tiny little beetle legs flail about, looking for anything they can grab a hold of to help flip them back over.
So, adopting my new mantra of befriending the bugs, I bent down and flipped him back over onto his legs. He sat stunned for a moment (or was catching his breath), then went about crawling on the floor again. He headed towards the wall, tried to start climbing it, and promptly fell back onto his back. I sighed, bent down again and flipped him over, then went back to cleaning myself.
As I was drying off, I looked down again, and the little guy was back on his back. So I sighed once more, telling him that this was his last shot, and put him back upright – but pointed him towards the door.
This little episode made me think about how of much life is like this little beetle’s time in my shower. We go about our lives, doing whatever it is we think we are supposed to be doing, then, BAM! we find ourselves all out of sorts, flailing around for anything we can grab a hold of and make sense of, or until some unseen hand comes and helps to put us back on our feet.
I thought about the times this has happened to me. In particular back in 2007, I was working a job so bad that I still have bad dreams about it, then, someone at the State of Oregon took a chance on me and gave me a job that I was thoroughly unqualified for, but it got my foot in the door. That job led to a promotion a year later, and another promotion a year after that – then to another (and better!) job a year after that. If it wasn’t for someone taking that chance, who knows if Kim and I would have ever been in a position to leave our lives behind and set out to try and make our lives ours.
It’s happened even as recently as the beginning of this year: Kim and I had a feeling that our time travelling abroad could be winding down, and we couldn’t decide what to do. For weeks we were stuck in indecision, not knowing exactly what we should do. Our best guess was to head back to the States, thru-hike the Appalachian Trail, then settle down somewhere (i.e. – get a job). Then: BAM! we got a job with Backpacker Magazine that allows us to travel, hike, be outside, meet tons of new people, and earn a paycheck while doing it.
We’re all going to be like my beetle friend at some point in our lives. We are going to be going about our lives, doing whatever it is that we do, and suddenly we’ll find our lives turned upside down. These times suck, and they will always suck. But being in a sucky situation doesn’t mean there isn’t anything we can do about it.
Like the beetle, we can flail around (probably looking pathetic as well, but that’s not the point), trying to catch the attention of some larger force that can then help us pick ourselves up and point ourselves in a new direction.
At that point, it’s our choice on what we do with the second chance we’ve been given.