Archive | adventure

On Wings of Exhaustion

My title this morning is literally true. I am sitting on an airplane heading to Phoenix, with a clear view of the plane’s wings out my window. And I am exhausted. I’m tired because I woke up at 5am San Antonio time, which is 3am California time and 6am New York time, and I don’t have a clue which time zone my body is in anymore. My weariness stems from physical causes and from the emotional toll of last weekend’s funeral and being separated from Dar on and off for four weeks. Cumulative tiredness.

Yesterday I walked around the Riverwalk. I started in downtown San Antonio, walking by the many restaurants, clubs, and cafes, and turned south toward the missions. The sun shone brightly, and after a while I removed my jacket. I was happy I had the forethought to bring a light shirt and less thrilled about having forgotten my sun screen. The park surrounding the Riverwalk is lovely. Trees, shrubs, and lawns glowed green to perfection against a clear blue sky. Butterflies fluttered like colorful flying flowers and birds chirped in the trees. Heaven.

Near King William neighborhood the houses turned to old Southern homes with huge balconies and porches and front yards beautifully-groomed. I discovered Mad Hatter’s Cafe and ordered myself some tea, sitting down to write my blog. When the waiter arrived with my teapot he explained that I must pick my own cup from the many cups and saucers, each unique, piled on the shelves.

For lunch I sat above the river in a partly shaded patio. I watched water taxis gliding below, filled with tourists, and couples meandering hand in hand in the romantic pathways. I walked north for over a mile, enjoying the waterfalls that many hotels built flowing into the river and which I later learned add oxygen to the water. I watched the ducks and cormorants diving into the murky river to catch whatever food there is in there for them to eat. For a while, all yesterday, I felt renewed, rejuvenated, fresh.

And then I had to wake up this morning to get on the plane, and blah, I’m tired again.

But maybe not. Maybe the light blue and white skies outside of my oval airplane window fill me with energy, and the brown and green  squares of agricultural, the lines of rivers, ridges, roads and the rounded lakes that create the landscape below inspire me with wonder, a longing to explore, the pull of adventure. And suddenly I’m not tired at all.

The world is spreading its pink rounded edges before me, full of possibility and promise of a new day. I am grateful for being here, for experiencing the miracle of sunrise, for taking deep breaths and being able to write to you. I don’t know what the rest of my day holds, but this is how I’d like live it: with gratitude, love and attention to the moment. I’m excited to be going home.

Where Adventure and Home Meet

I love adventure. The idea of hanging on a rope between heaven and earth, holding onto nothing but steep, slick rocks delights me. I like to go far into the wilderness, sleep in a tent, discover new paths, light a campfire, and shiver as I bravely slide into a freezing lake. The lake especially is a challenge, because I don’t like to be cold, but the exhilaration I feel swimming surpasses most of my life’s greatest joys.

At the same time, I am a home body. I dislike leaving my routine. I’m not flexible in uncomfortable situations, and I like to have my own way. I get upset if I don’t have space to write, and I‘m attached to my quiet morning time eating and reading. I easily get overwhelmed and anxious in unfamiliar places, and if I don’t eat on time or enough I can get moody, headachy and unpleasant.

Paradoxical me, living with a dual temperament in one body, with one part that craves excitement and danger, and another that requires safety and routine. An odd combination, seemingly impossible to bridge. And yet, somehow, I have been straddling these lines for forty years, exploring the world’s wild places but also making myself a home where, despite the abundance of wildlife and trails all around, I rarely set foot outside.

Adventure is where I challenge who I believe I am. Sometimes I discover that I am capable of so much more than I thought, and other times I smash into a wall of limitations and weaknesses. When I climbed Mount Shasta five years ago, I leaped over the barriers of cold wind and darkness and found within myself the strength to keep moving and the knowledge that I can reach the summit. When I first arrived at Paradise to climb Mount Rainier, only a few months later that year, I grew overwhelmed by fears and found myself declaring defeat and retreating home without even trying.

In Kauai a few months ago, my creativity blossomed. Nothing, not heavy rain or Dar’s disability at the time could mar my enjoyment of the island. I wrote. I ran. I swam. I had endless patience to walk with Dar as he hobbled along on his crutches. But on Roatan, a Honduran island with every promise of heaven, I felt trapped, stressed and unable to handle any of the discomforts of the trip. Nothing, not our beautiful rented house, the promise of kayaking, or the glorious jungle could relieve the tension headache from hell that I had.

Perhaps it is time for me to stop defining success in adventure by whether I followed through with my plans and start appreciating that I left on adventure in the first place. I travel into the world, secure in the knowledge that I can always return home, my safe base from which I can challenge myself farther and to which I can return to lick any bruises to my courage. Like a baby who peeks out of her mother’s skirts, testing the waters. That’s how I am.

The Joy of Banishing My Disbelief

Miracles happen. Especially in books. A burning bush talks to Moses? Sure, I accept that. A bunch of bones become an army of ghosts? Umm, creepy, but ok, I can swallow that. Elves, hobbits, flying kids, witches, people who incarnate over and over again over thousands of years. I believe it. I do. My imagination can accept quite a lot of marvelous happenings.

This is called, in literary terms, suspension of disbelief. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, one of my favorite poets, is the one who came up with the term. It is poetic faith, the reader’s willingness to accept incredible, romantic and supernatural people or events as possible within the framework of a novel, poem or play.

Poetic faith allows me to enjoy fictional writing. Take, for example, this story about a normal girl who is chosen to act as an adventurer in fairy tale worlds. That’s an imaginative idea, right? I don’t know any girl who actually does that. But, as long as the girl’s story sticks to the rules which the novel sets starting out, I am willing to accept and enjoy flying frogs, sheep with no mouths, a wizard who is a clown (how terrifying!) and a main character who is an expert in cliches.

The story I’m describing is Anna Staniszewski’s middle grade novel My Very Unfairytale Life. Jenny, the main character, does not fear the danger inherent in adventuring. She easily pops in and out of worlds saving creatures and countries, but she misses her everyday life. Yes, she’s rich with jewels and treasures, but she has no friends.

I like novels where the main character needs to balance their innermost desires with the conditions of their life and the limitations of the world around them. Staniszewski’s  novel, though short, cute, and easy-to-read, still manages to enfold within its pages a discussion of friendship, the power of laughing without a care in the world, and following our heart.

I think the novel’s innate charm is what made me so willing to suspend my disbelief. A lot of Staniszewski’s seemingly impossible details add charm as well as a shadow of menacing darkness and complexity to a story teeming with humor: the wizard’s castle is a huge circus tent and his grounds a mini-golf garden. He tortures Prince Lamb by forcing him to swing on a trapeze. The committee members who send Jenny on her adventures are exact copies of each other, looking alike, speaking in the same voice and at the same time.

I allowed myself to be swept along in Jenny’s adventure, rarely bringing my head up for air, following the twists of the plot through possible, impossible, credible, incredible, just letting myself have fun. And by the end of it, a reaffirmation of family and friends, I was very glad that I allowed myself to rest in belief for at least this one time.

Sigal Tzoore (650) 815-5109