Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Enjoy the Ride

Life is just full of surprises. Some good, some bad, some benign. Since I get bored easily, the surprises are almost always a welcome, well...surprise! I love the spontaneity they often demand, the new slant they give to the story.

Obviously there are some surprises that are not welcome: health issues, the loss of someone close, unexpected financial challenges.

I am a planner. (Remember the backwards planning post on this blog?) I like to map things out so that I know where I am going. You can't plan surprises, but you can plan so that your life will work in spite of them. A plan of attack - so to speak. What is the famous quote? I think it's "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."

The great thing about planning is that it usually isn't absolute; detours and changes can and do and will happen. Oddly, planning allows for greater spontaneity and flexibility, and those are two things I do well.

One thing that's a surety is that the ups and downs will inevitably show up somewhere in the middle of the maps we outline, the plans we make - hills and valleys, successes and failures, triumphs and challenges.

I remember riding in the back of our car while driving between San Bernardino and Upland in California as a very young girl. It was about a 30 minute drive east from Upland to Berdoo on Highland Avenue in the 1960's. My Dad worked for the Sun Telegram in San Bernardino and we lived on 18th street in Upland. For a period of time he worked from 3 PM until midnight. We had one car and Mom had two little girls and lived in the boonies. She won the car battle.

So, about 2:30 PM in the afternoon and then again at 11:30 PM at night, Mom would pack Melanie and me into the car and head east, driving past the Sunkist Packing Co. and the "birthday cake" lights of Kaiser Steel in Fontana, and UP and DOWN and UP and DOWN the few hills between our house and the huge newspaper plant where Dad worked. There were only two hills, I think, but they felt like a lot more and I waited for those two hills every time we drove back and forth. I loved that ride for some reason. I am amazed that I remember it; you would think that I would have been asleep.

On the leg of the trip when Dad was driving, we went a lot faster than when Mom drove, and in the daylight he would take those two hills with gusto; in the dark he would surprise us with a less-intense increase in speed as we dropped down and then climbed up again. I loved that bottomless feeling in my stomach on those ups and downs.

Not much has changed in 45 years, those long ago ups and downs were not a lot different than the ups and downs of my daily life now, especially the surprises. It's interesting that on the hills and in life, once you hit that downward slope things seem to speed up and the descent can be rapid, but once you hit bottom creeping back up the opposite side is always a slower process.

Life is a series of bumps. Sometimes we can plan for them, sometimes we cannot. Our best bet is to hold on tight and enjoy the ride.


Morcheeba "Enjoy the Ride"

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