Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

This Old "No" Guy Jedi

“You're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So... get on your way!”



I swore I would never drive one. Never in a million years. Nearly two decades ago, when my parents owned a motorhome, and way before we had the girls, I remember my wife Amy saying, "I'd love to have one of those someday and see the rest of America."

"I'm not driving that bus," I said. "You are."

"We'll both drive it," she said.

"Nope. Let's just go tent camping," I said.

"Nope," she said. 

And for good reason for her. The year after we met, Amy and one of her best friends took a safari trip to Africa and camped in tents. It was an amazing trip until they all got dysentery for days. And that was the end of tent camping for Amy. 

However, my sister's kids had a blast traveling with Nana and Poppa,  my parents, in that motorhome. I mean, I always thought it was cool that they had one, but no, ain't never gonna drive one. 

But with Amy, the love of my life I've traveled the world with, I've learned to expand my horizons, and be more open to doing. I've always been that "no" guy. Where my pragmatic cynicism (oh, ego) kicks in when a new idea is kicked around, or when the reality of the moment kicks me in the groin. Yep, the "no" guy. Both our daughters know that if they want a "yes" then don't ask Dad.

Before we had the girls, when we were fortunate enough to go to Belize back in 2006, we had rented a little jeep, a Suzuki Sidekick, not really thinking about whether or not it would have automatic transmission. We just assumed it would. So, as we stood in the little rental kiosk off the airport getting the jeep checked out to us, we had no idea it had a standard transmission.

Until we loaded our stuff and sat in the seats, with me in the driver seat. 

"Wait a minute. This is a stick," I said.

"It's all right," Amy said. "You can do it."

"But neither of us have driven a stick in years," I said.

"It'll come back. Muscle memory," she said. 

"No way. I can't do it," I said.

"Yes, you can. Now just drive. You can do it."

The "no" guy stalled out a few times, and so did Amy when she drove it, but it all came back up pretty quickly.

Then there was the "no" time when we were prepping to travel to Australia with our daughters, neither of us sure we wanted to brave driving in Australia, where everything is on the "wrong" side of the car and the road. It wasn't just me this time, and ironically Amy had trained me well, because I convinced her we should rent cars and drive during parts of the trip. 

And that's exactly what we did. To say it was awkward at first would be quite the understatement, but after getting lost shortly after leaving the Sydney airport, we got plenty of driving practice in. After the first day, we both were driving in Australia without a hitch. 

But no motorhomes! Ever! And while that is true, COVID-19 struck. Everything ground to a halt, including leisure travel. With coronavirus now surging again, especially in America, even if we wanted to go on a trip (which we did and it had to be canceled), our choices are pretty limited in order to be as safe as possible. 

We had already thought about renting a camper pre-coronavirus, to try it out, but never did. Then we had friends who bought a trailer camper and hit the road. In fact, RV sales are soaring now! I was conflicted, because while it's not a motorhome, we still have to learn all the things -- all the hoses and the hookups and how to tow and drive the frickin' thing. And back the frickin' thing up into tight places. Again, all the things. Of course, we're grateful that can actually consider getting one in the first place, but to know all the things and drive it safely -- no!

But hey, a camper is a self-contained mini-hotel room where only we'll be, so there's that. Thankfully we both now embody the Yoda philosophy of "do or do not -- there is no try." A long time coming for me, we're both open to all the doing, failing, learning and doing again and again. And if this is the beginning of the zombie apocalypse, then dammit, we're going to be ready to go!

Yes, we like Star Wars and end-of-world stories.

But that's not the point. Self-doubt and fear diminish the do, and even with the vestige of my pragmatic cynicism hanging on, this old "no" guy Jedi is a doer. We researched, we shopped and we did it! The girls are super excited, as are we. We've been getting such valuable advice from friends and family, and I've also been up at night working out the physics of all the things in my head. So much to learn including how to back the frickin' thing up! That's why we're going to a parking lot first and placing orange cones down to navigate around. 

And then after the practice -- oh, the places we’ll go...


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