First, let me explain our absence from the blog. It’s been more than a month since my last post (forgive me Father for I have sinned?). I won’t apologize for it because when we’re not writing we’re gaining incredible insight on life through travel…which, of course is what we write about. So in that case, I call it…hmmmm field work I guess. And we’ve truly missed writing. But as our travel schedule went from insane to warp overdrive something had to give.
Now, briefly, there is a breathing hole…one that allows a small bubble of exhalation but not large enough to actually poke my head out…so with that time I choose to write. Why? well, honestly, because Sharkman is traveling…otherwise that time would more wisely be used for a loftier goal, sex.
Perhaps too much information.
So today I spent thinking. Something I don’t do often enough. I simply don’t ever allow myself time to gather and process and evaluate and conclude. Do any of us? So yes, today I thought. And as well I went paddle boarding and finished a fascinating book. All of these activities led me down the same path to a fork in the road and a question.
Should I choose the easy way in life or the hard way?
As I sit here in Mexico at my computer contemplating, munching on Italian procuitto and Spanish cheese with Mexican fresh baked bread (okay so I wanted a small break from my ongoing love affair with anything in a tortilla) I decided I should back up and explain how this question took root.
Honestly, I think it started with the book. I just finished reading North to the Night by Alvah Simon. In this true account, he and his wife, Diana, sail a 36’ sailboat into the Arctic with the intention to over-winter trapped in the ice and experience first hand the dark Arctic winter, the life of the Inuit and the Siren-esque beauty of the land. Alvah, not one to take the meek route, consciously and subconsciously finds ways to make the adventure more extreme to test the limits of both body and soul. In the end, I found some of his decisions bordering on unwise and beyond risky. I understand the need to test oneself to one’s limit. His limit is way beyond mine…. Alvah Simon definitely took the hard way and at a few bends in the road, almost paid the ultimate price.
As I contemplated the book and some of Alvah’s reasoning, I I decided to head out into the sunshine for a little paddle boarding. You see, while Alvah went to the Arctic to over-winter, I believe a more sane place to over-winter is in the tropics! Today was incredibly windy so I began by paddling up into the wind, as you do. I set a goal to reach the halfway point in the bay where it opens up to the full force of a wind I physically could not pull myself through. By the time I reached it the wind was so fierce that paddling as hard as possible I was careening backwards. I put my body and mind to the grindstone and Hell bent to Sunday went after my silly little morning goal.
Upon completion of my morning mission, I turned the board around for the way back. The wind was so strong I didn’t need to paddle at all. So I set the tip of the paddle on the board and went along for the ride.
I looked up and watched the frigate birds soaring. I watched the wind whip through the mangroves and the Mexicans on the shoreline going about their day. On the way back down to my own marina I took the easy way and enjoyed the scenery around me.
So this all got me thinking about which path to take in life, the easy path or the hard.
It seems a fine line.
While we, on one hand (and I generalize about Americans here and make no claim to thought processes of other cultures) praise the self starter and the self made, we tell ourselves to stop working so hard and enjoy life. When we talk with our friends and family, we take pride in how busy we are and equate hard work with success. When we take the easy way, we feel like we somehow “cheated”. If we take the easy way, we are labeled “lazy”. Yet don’t we all strive for “easy street”???
As I am in Mexico, I started to think about the stereotype of the lazy Mexican that I’ve heard that all my life. (Mexicans are actually quite smart. Given their hot climate, they work very hard early in the morning and often take the heat of the day to rest.) However, I then thought about Tim Ferriss’s book, The 4 Hour Work Week. A 4 hour work week??? How lazy is that??? Yet it’s a New York Times Best Seller. Who doesn’t want to just work 4 hours out of every 168? Ah, a fine line. Read on and you understand the book, however, a title like that? Everyone wants it….
Many people would, at this point say, well, take a balanced way. Balanced, for me is about the most boring place to be. Imagine yourself on a seesaw, balanced…where’s the fun in that??? You have neither highs nor lows, you sit in mediocrity…
So I put this blog aside last night and in the wee hours of today got back on my paddle board to welcome in the sun to the new day. The wind had shifted to the southeast and paddling up the bay was a bit easier. It was still blowing over 15kts as I worked my way along the mangroves on the eastern shore of the bay winding in and out of the marinas until, after an hour, I found the end of the bay. I had not taken the easy way, nor the hard way this morning.
I realized I had taken the clever way.
I used what I knew about wind and figured out the smart way to get to my goal feeling accomplished and neither frustrated by difficulty nor lackadaisical.
Where else in life and adventure had I taken either the hard way or the easy way when I could have taken the clever way? Where have you?