Thursday, November 22, 2007

Grateful

This is the time of year when many people express thanks for what they are grateful for. I am not usually one to jump at these types of activities, but a few recent events got me in the mood.

The first is, as I have mentioned in a previous post, that I have linked up with a number of old friends through online social networks. This has caused some reminicing and exposed me to some of their writings. Some of the writings have been quite inspirational for me. My previous blog post on influencial people also stirred up some thoughts in this area. But the biggest motivator of all to put this post together was my yoga instructor in yesterday morning's class. During the final pose of the class he talked of focusing our energy on the positive. To search out the positive seeds within our body. As I went for a run later in the day, I thought about this advice and decided to write this post.

Don't worry, my cynical engineering mind is not going to let this blog evolve into a continuing sappy lovefest.

Things I am grateful for:

  • I am grateful to my parents for getting me started in a good direction.
  • I am grateful to my older brother for providing me inspiration.
  • I am grateful that I have had great opportunities in my life.
  • I am grateful that I have had a good education.
  • I am grateful that I have been healthy.
  • I am grateful that my life has been surrounded by great people who I can call my friends.
  • I am grateful that I have re-connected with some old friends.
  • I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to help endangered species.
  • I am grateful that I have made a positive difference in people's lives.
  • I am grateful for every day I spend in the mountains.
  • I am grateful for every wild thing I see.
  • Most important of all, I am grateful to my lovely wife Karyn, who has put up with me, shares in my experiences, has made me a better person, and provides daily meaning to my life.

As a tribute to her, I dug up an old story that I wrote back in the year 2000. Its called First Date and describes our early days together, now over 16 years ago.

What seems like an eternity ago, I met the chortler (Karyn). She was working a part time job at my place of employment while completing her art degree at Boise State University. I worked up the nerve to ask her out for a first date. Being the chortler, she could not give me the psychological advantage of accepting my first request. She conjured up a lousy excuse that a friend was getting married out of town. She claims to this day that this story was true. As it would end up, she did not go to a wedding, she went to a funeral instead.

The very next week, being somewhat masochistic in nature, I decided to ask again. This time she used the work excuse. She claimed to have a night job at the bank. It would have been easier if she had just told me to stop asking. Insistent on teaching her a lesson, I decided to ask again. As luck would have it, I happened to pick the one night which she had not yet committed to other activities. She said, "Yes."

The official date was an outdoor Shakespeare play. I had acquired our picnic dinner, and bought her a single rose. To this day the memory remains. She still reminds me of this thoughtful gesture, "You used to bring me flowers!"

The play was proceeding nicely until the thunderstorm passed through. As the rain began to fall, I contemplated the possibility that this was a sign. In hindsight...

We survived the weather. The play was great. At the end of the play the actors came onto the stage and applauded the audience for persevering the conditions. I drove the chortler to her apartment where she asked if I wanted to come up stairs. I contemplated this for a fraction of a nano-second before replying, "YES!" (No it's not that kind of date! This story is rated PG!)

We continued to ignore our better judgment, as we agreed to continue seeing each other. We sat in the park until the sprinklers came on, we rode mountain bikes between Karyn's jobs, and then came the time for the first overnighter. I invited Karyn to go camping with myself and some friends. After pointing out that we would be sleeping in separate sleeping bags, she agreed. I told you that this was PG!

Since Karyn had to work Friday night, I went up alone. The plan was to meet in downtown Fairfield at noon on Saturday. Others camping with us were a friend of mine from College, Dola, and one of my college professors. A number of us went out for a morning mountain bike ride. The trip was fairly uneventful until I was following Gary up a steep technical section. His bike had lower gears than mine which allowed him to ride more slowly. I was struggling to keep my balance. On my right was a steep drop off down to the river, some 50 feet below. If Gary would only speed up. He didn't. I hit a rock on the left side of the trail bouncing my front wheel to the right and over the rocky edge. I dove to the left to grab a rock with my left hand. My right hand remained on the handlebars of the bike as it dangled over the rocky edge. My water bottle bounced three times before splashing in the river below. Gary continued up the trail oblivious to my perils. Doug, riding behind me came up to my rescue. All turned out ok, except for my right mountain bike shoe. In the crash I tore the cleat from the base of my shoe leaving a large gaping hole in the bottom. It also made it impossible to clip my foot into my pedals. We rode a little further until we found two moose standing in the trail. They refused to yield. Since my time was running out, and the stubborn beasts would not give way, we turned back toward camp. I jumped in my vehicle and drove faster than I should to get to Fairfield on time. Karyn still claims I was late, but I know better.

That afternoon Karyn, Dola, and I decided to go for a short mountain bike ride. The chosen route, included an uphill on a logging road with a 2 mile decent next to a river. After riding the uphill section we turned off on what resembled a trail. The trail descended steeply down to the river, where it appeared that we needed to cross. We wait as Dola carefully removed his shoes and socks to cross the river. After we crossed we waited for Dola to put his shoes and socks back on. The going was rough as we were dragging our bikes through the dense brush. Realizing that this trip could take longer than planned, I tried to encourage the group to make better time. Soon, we arrived at another river crossing. Dola once again removed his shoes and socks for the crossing. The light was starting to fade. We were then walking through a large section of downed trees. As I moved more quickly through the brush, Dola and Karyn lagged behind. They were talking between themselves regarding my leadership abilities. I suspected mutiny. Dola and Karyn were clearly plotting against me. The question was asked on more than one occasion if I truly knew where we were going. I pushed them more to make more forward progress. At that point I had determined that my relationship with Karyn was over. There was no way that we could recover. I had made a critical mistake my choosing this 'trail'.

As I knew it would, the trail took us to the main road back to camp. We arrived back in camp just before dark. To my surprise, Karyn did not hold the trail choice against me. The mutiny was over. Little did she know that this would not be the last adventure we would have together.

No comments: