Balance and Loss
April 18, 2008

It is one of those days when nothing can go right, which is certainly not what I expected after my centering and balancing hike yesterday. Generally speaking, one hike out at a place like Potato Creek can ground me for weeks.

Growing up in Texas, you'd think that I was an outdoor kid. The reality isn't quite like that. My mother was very scared of anything involving the outdoors - animals, insects, reptiles, dirt ... and we generally lived in the 'burbs, not out on a ranch. There was a tension between us most of my childhood, because I did want to be the rancher kid (or thought I did) and Mom thought staying in the house was the safest course of action.

When we lived in Austin, I was at my most free. Our house was on the edge of Balcones Woods and a large quarry. If we went out the front door? We were in the 'burbs. If we went out the backdoor? We were in the woods.

Despite my mother's best efforts to instill fear of all the dangerous outside things - I learned to love nature whilst we lived in Austin, more than any other place I ever lived. I welcomed thunderstorms (even when they made me nervous) - I loved to watch as the winds whipped the leaves around on the trees turning the deep greens into something nearly white. I loved the drive into town when we passed through areas where the road had been dynamited out of granite. I adored looking at the layers and layers in the rock, the plants trying to cling to the sides. My favourite places and times were when we went out to "Bear Creek" park. (I've since tried to find that park but apparently my recollection of the name is not correct.) The mix of woods and creek and old-fashioned "swimmin' hole" simply called to me and relaxed me in a way nothing else could.

I suppose, for me, it was the relief of not having to pay attention to tone of voice or body language - or whether dad's eyes were bloodshot yet or not. I remained aware of my surroundings - there were still rattlers and cottonmouths and even loose rocks whilst climbing - plenty of stuff to cause damage. But I seemed to have an instinctual grasp of my surroundings when I was outside and it relaxed me in a way that being around people never did. The wind through the leaves and branches and underbrush ... the crickets ... the frogs ... the cicada song ... the water burbling through the narrow, shallow creek, gradually deepening and quieting as it got deeper and wider ....

The tensions would just fade away and I could feel my core self, my true self, come to the forefront and simply be. It was easy to shed the outer self which had to deal with all of the demands made on a small child throughout the day - that kid who tried to do everything exactly perfect for every adult.

Today, every time I feel overly stressed ... when life is simply getting to me and I find it more and more difficult to find balance on my own ... I retreat, preferably to a place which includes both woods and water - and is out of sight of the "modern world." When I worked at Notre Dame, I would simply go to one of the small lakes on the north end of campus and walk the circular path, eventually coming to a resting spot just barely south of the "beach." No matter how crazy things got, this always centered me.

After I left ND, that spot was no longer very relaxing for me and I had to find a new spot and Potato Creek State Park, with the long, meandering trails along Lake Worster was just the thing.

So after a few weeks of not getting any job interviews for any of my queries, and seeing very few (very very very few) jobs for which I'm qualified appear on any of the dozen or so job boards I haunt ... I needed a time to center.

The walk did me a world of good. It was good exercise and I could feel all the tension and worry beginning to melt away as I listened to the sounds of world around me. I "hunted" the frogs, hoping for a good photo op. I sat down on a boulder and watched one of the feeder creeks meandering along under a bridge. I had to marvel at the little bird who seemed as curious about me as I was of him ... hopping along in the underbrush, one eye cocked at me, and keeping pace with me. There was the swan who just knew I was taking pictures and he kept trying to pose so I'd snap - and then he'd move to try to keep me from getting the "classic" swan photo.

The crunch of the gravel is one thing that has mostly annoyed me about the park, but there were patches of hay and grass as well.

The wind, the water, the birds, frogs ... it all helped relax and center me.


And then this morning, after my other half left for work, I did nothing but dream about realistic catastrophe after realistic catastrophe.

It began with dreaming that our chimney - which has some issues up at its top where some critters have ripped at the masonry - I dreamed that the chimney finally fell to the ground, wreaking all sorts of havoc with the house in general. Chances are, this is whilst I was dozing in the living room - near the fireplace - and about the time of the earthquake which shook much of the midwest this morning.

The rest of my ill-fated "nap" this morning (from about 5 a.m. until about 8 - my other half leaves for work at 4:30 a.m.), was horrific. I have several types of bad dreams - semi-realistic ones in which things seem real even upon awakening, but which follow "dream-logic." These dreams usually involve real people and situations, but not necessarily people who look like what they actually look like and the places are generally different in some way. Other nightmares involve things from my childhood.

But the nightmares this morning were the worst of the lot. They were the kind that could be real. The people look and act exactly as they do in real life. The places look exactly as they do in real life. And, the scenarios are all too real fears rather than exaggerations or metaphors.

I won't bore you with a list of what those dreams were, only that they destroyed all of the balance I had so carefully nurtured yesterday. And I'm left with just one thought: I need a job. Badly. I'm a hard worker; I do what is asked of me and I ask for more. I'm detail-oriented and focused. I have no ego when it comes to work - I'm not the boss or creative director ... I'm a very happy worker, producing my product whether it's graphics (my favourite) or copy ... or reports or whatever is required of me.

I just beg ... do not make me go back to retail work. Not only is the pay abysmal, it is without a doubt not within my realm of talents - so much so to the point where working retail is honestly more depressing than not working at all. At least now I can freelance.

Something has to give soon.

It just has to.

Posted by Red Monkey at April 18, 2008 4:28 PM | Struggles | Vacations and Photos | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |


Red said:

Endy you hang in there I feel sure the right job is out there for you. I love reading your post and watching your thought process and how you flow from point a to point b. It always makes me smile. Keep writing and drawing and taking photos I think all three help center you when you can't be one with nature.

April 18, 2008 9:31 PM


Nola said:

I wish I could hire you! PLEASE do not go back to retail. Would volunteering where your mind would be stimulated suffice? Or is it that you need a paycheck for the money or your own sense of security? Just trying to think outside the box for you. Did I just say "outside the box"? I did. Don't take any advice I give. It's late.

Stay the course! Something WILL give!

April 18, 2008 11:35 PM

I am so rooting for you. In just the two posts of yours that I've read, I can see you are a pretty cool human being, and I hope that things break for you soon.

April 21, 2008 7:35 AM
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