Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Best of the Mess

Lawdy mercy, I am busier than a long tailed putty-tat in a room full of mouse traps. 

I find it amazing how my body is sick one day, then two days later, I am bouncing off the walls with energy, ready to tackle the world. Every day I just feel like I need to do so much, with a huge priority on enjoying the moment. 

Enjoyment?  Yes!  Every day needs to be wonderful, enjoyed, loved, cuddled and held tightly as the most precious thing I ever owned. 

Or didn't own. You can't really own today or time.  

I see so many people rush around doing what they think they are supposed to be doing, but not being happy about it at all. 

Times are tough, really hard, since my life went upside down.  But I just refuse to let it get me down anymore.  Sure I was confused and bewildered.  

Still am!

But I try to plow forth, smile and make the best of the mess. I always assume somebody has it much worse somewhere else.  I am lucky to wake up to the four basics of shelter, clothes, food, and companionship (that silly dog is good for something, after all). But honestly, I am sometimes appalled when I meet folks that "have it made"  financially, have good health, have vast assets, yet are incredibly miserable. 

If I was forced into choosing being happily poor or miserably rich, well I'd take happiness. 

What???  Am I crazy?  (I sure hope so!)

A few years back, I was leading a comfy life in the Caribbean. I had a choice of two different freelance assignments. One paid very well, but was with difficult combative people, who could never be pleased. They were sure to make my work hard, long, difficult and unpleasant.  The other was a delightful assignment, that paid OK, but not near as well as the other, but the people were a joy to work around, the job offered a great deal of satisfaction and happiness. 

Someone visiting me from the USA, for a few weeks, said "Well, that's a no brainer, take the job that pays the best!"

I said "That's funny, I was thinking of taking the one that was going to be fun and pleasant."  

My friend and I had a heated discussion, as she expounded all the reasons, I should grit my teeth, buckle down and take the awful job because it provided more money. I could name off numerous good reasons to take the job with the lesser money, while she could only name one good reason to take the awful job. 

The money. 

I guess that afternoon, we found out just how vastly different we viewed the world. 

It's been drilled into our heads from day one, especially as Americans, that we owe ourselves a very rich life.  Money is the end all. We should continually strive for more, more, more money and that in the end, it alone,  is supposed to make us happy. 

I personally know a handful of people with plenty of financial security, yet somehow, some way, they are grumpy and unhappy.  But they often tell me, they are working hard for when they retire, they will then be happy.  Or when they get the next million, then they will be happy. Or when they can afford an ostentatious main home, a mountain home, a beach home, a lake home, then they will be happy. 

Luckily I also have a handful of friends who are financially secure, as well as living a great life pursuing happiness every day. 

But somehow, the happy people seem to be far and few. The grumpy folks seem to abound. Why is that?  

So many people hold out on their dreams until retirement. I don't know where this thinking comes from, but many folks have set their targets, that once they retire "It's OK to be happy". 

What if they don't make it to retirement?  What a shame to put off their entire life, waiting to be happy.  I want happiness today. I think about idiotic things, like if I drop dead, I would like to have been happy right up until that very moment. 

Or close to it. 

One day I read what was to me, a very sad story. First it started off, the guy was talking about how he had found out he had cancer, how he had to go through all these treatments to fight it off. He went on about how it scared him into thinking he should do more to enjoy life, rather than put it off any longer. He harped about how cancer had made him put on the brakes, slow down and think about all the dreams he had never fulfilled. Now he was going to chase his dreams, put caution to the wind and finally have some fun. 

All this is beginning to sound so wonderful, right?

I mean the cancer situation sounds bad, but the fact that he had decided he should do more now, rather than later. 

He went on to explain how he and his wife always wanted to live in a motorhome and travel. So now, he wasn't going to put it off any longer. The cancer  had scared him into action. They were going to move into the motorhome, fulfilling their dream of travel and the vagabond lifestyle. 

In six years.


Yes, he was SERIOUS!  His cancer scare had frightened him into planning his lifelong dream to happen SIX YEARS away.

My jaw dropped. I immediately felt sorry for him. I am sure I could take a peek at his finances and show him how to do this now.  In a month or so, not in six years! 

Why wait six years for a lifelong dream when you very nearly had your life ripped out from under you?  They had plenty of assets that could be converted into their dreams. 

Now.  But wait, that would be taking a chance. 

A chance on happiness and that life might not be perfect after all. 

But he and his wife had gone to see some sort of professional retirement planner. They had picked out a luxurious motor coach with all the bells and whistles. They had  figured up all the costs of traveling in it in style, staying at all the resort RV parks. They figured up how to keep the stick house and all the costs associated with it, how to maintain their  new cars and how to retire in the lap of luxury so they could finally fulfill their dream to travel. 

Their retirement planner had figured out how they could accomplish this in six years, if they slaved away at their current jobs, dreaming of six years down the road. 

I felt so sorry for the guy. 

I would have suggested, sell all that junk that is burdening you down now, buy a far cheaper motorhome, look at the less expensive costs of staying in state and national parks or other RV campgrounds that don't operate like resorts. 

Go see the world. Live a little. Live a lot. 

If I could figure out how to do it on shoestring, couldn't this guy with his vast wealth figure out how to do it immediately, rather than wait six more years to fulfill a lifelong dream?  I wondered, would he even live six more years?

You can chase your dreams now, but lawdy mercy, you got to be willing to make the trade offs to make it happen. They don't just fall in your lap. Once you place numerous conditions on your dreams, they may not ever happen at all.  Following your dreams is risky business indeed!  What will the others say?

Why does happiness have to be postponed?

This guy talked like his cancer had caused him to make these life changing, earth shattering decisions.  But six years away?  

Where's the adventure in that?  What if the cancer comes back?  What if six years from now, never happens?  

It all seemed so sad to me. 

Sure I plan two ways. I plan for today and I plan for five years from now. Well, that is how I did it in my younger days. I had immediate goals and I had long term goals. Now I pretty much plan for today and plan for a year from now. I no longer think about the five years much, but I feel hopeful the five years will roll around. I try to live happy today. 

Today is my adventure!  This is the best of the mess!

Tonight I could be hit by a train. Do I hold up my hand and say "WAIT!  I'm not done with my six year plan to be happy?  WAIT!  Stop the train! Turn back the clock.  Come back and hit me in six years, certainly not now!"

I don't mean to knock anybody for making long term plans. We all need to.  But it seems so sad, this man came so close to losing his life, so now, he is going to plan to be happy. 

In six years. 

I guess I look at my world in a crazy way. My little old RV takes me down the same highways as the million dollar rigs. I often do camp side by side next to people who have spent over a 100 times more on their rig than I have on mine. But here we are, next door neighbors in the exact same campground, marveling at the same waterfall or incredible sunset. They may be dining out on chateau briand and lobster thermidor, washing it down with Dom Perignon served by waiters while I am eating homemade bean burritos, washing it down with  water.

But guess what, we both got fed, to live another day. They may be drawing off a carefully orchestrated retirement plan. Here I am juggling erratic health, uncertain income and a wild thirst for happiness and adventure. 

I've lived the high life, the low life and the uncertain life. Their grocery cart may have the best of the best. Mine looks like I'm here to relieve the store of  damaged items. I have the discounted banged up produce, the dented marked down cans, the past-dated cheese at bargain prices. It's just a method for me to get through the rough times. But I don't see them as rough, it's just another adventure!

But by golly, I'm truly enjoying the best of the mess. I am having fun, trying to get well, stay well and fulfill my dreams.

Today.  Tomorrow. And maybe even six years from now. 

I've heard money can't buy happiness, but it sure feels better to cry in a Rolls Royce. 

To each their own. But, I'm having a blast and I surely hope that cancer survivor makes it to his six year happiness plan. 

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  1. I agree with you 100%. Life is what happens while you plan. It is not always easy to focus on that, but it is true.

    Financial planners always want you to wait to spend money. that way they can get your management fee longer. If they had their way you would not spend you money until you mid eighties:(

  2. So glad you wrote all that! My boyfriend had been suffering from numerous health problems (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, anxiety,diabetes, etc.). He was absolutely miserable about his finances and hated his line of work (which he has been in for about 18 years now because he didn't think he could change). We went camping as often as possible this summer and it was one of the few activities he could relax and enjoy. I showed him your blog. Now he wants to take at least a year off and travel from park to park (I showed him lists of host jobs so he could stop worrying about the cost). He is changing fields and no longer choosing money over dreams. In the past two months his blood pressure has gone down to normal, his blood sugar has dropped from dangerous levels, he isn't having anxiety attacks as often and he is enthusiastic about the future (we are working on the cholesterol). I can't wait until he reads this entry! Thanks a million! He was really happy to see it could be done. (Now, if only I could convince him to take a few weeks off and join me on my annual trip to Tortola...)

  3. I copied your scrambled blog of 9/30/11 onto Microsoft word and it showed up unscrambled! With no help from me!!! More aliens????

    Friday, September 30, 2011
    Fetch or Keep Away

    At 9am it's barely 60F degrees in Gumlog, Georgia. Gumlog is near the South Carolina border, 110 miles northeast from the Atlanta airport up I-85 or 150 miles southwest down I-85 from the Charlotte, North Carolina airport.

    While I enjoy all modes of transportation and have been lucky to have been on most available forms, I admit, I love my rolling wheel estate, also known as a mini-motorhome or Class C, best of all modes. Sometimes I wish I had a chauffeur, but mostly it's just me and the dog.

    Bow wow to the ball...

    Harley dog is learning to play ball. Well, he has always played ball since I first introduced him to such a marvelous delight. Problem is, he prefers to play by his whims rather than by human rules, such as go catch the ball, bring it back to the human, drop it, so the human can throw it again. This is new to him. But he has recently learned to actually play fetch and return the ball to be thrown again.


    He is cold today, bundled up in his blue sweater, courtesy of Baxter and Bailey in Ohio. They are dachshunds that used to wear this sweater, then out grew it, so they gave it to Harley. He loves it. Reminds him of his friends.

    I put a throw rug on the bench for him. His wittle paws were cold. If I sit on the bench too, throwing the ball, he races to bring it back to the bench. We do this 50 times a day. But if I move somewhere else, he won't bring it back. He changes the game to "catch me if you can" as he races just out of reach with the treasured ball.

    He wants to drag out his puppyhood as long as possible. Maybe he will always be playful. He sure is a goofy little dog!

    He's been loads of fun to have around to help me with my workamping duties. He is one lucky dog to have a volunteer job as a bark ranger.

    NOTE: Blogger may have made a mess of my formatting. I will have to look into this. *sigh* If anyone can help, Email me.

  4. And to Jane, LOVE your comment! Amazing what happens when you focus on dreams! :)


Life is goof!