People who know me are probably L-ing their F A O at this statement. They know it's true. They know I'm in denial. The revelation came this weekend when I went on holiday with my lovely friends on a bit of an impromptu kiwi road trip. It was hard to get me out of the house into the car. "But I have 15 episodes of Game of Thrones to watch... and my cat will miss me" I cried as darling friend (who for the purposes of blogging and privacy will be referred to as Darling Friend) expertly wrangled me into agreeing to go with. Our accomplices on the journey will be called NZ's best lasagna maker (NZBLM) and her flatmate NZ Guy.
The lack of plan, however, bothered me the most. I felt unsettled. "What do you mean make it up as you go along???" the tiny little stressed-out person inside me yelled. ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN! To qualify this - the 'anything' that could have happened in the far north of NZ would most likely have been getting a flat tyre or running out of chips before we got to the next gas station. Yet there I was, neurosis at the ready, prepared for anything... the battle of the car door locking being a perfect example
The scene - stopping off somewhere to go for a walk in a magnificent Ancient Kauri forest...
Me: (attempting chilled out tone) "Hey man shouldn't you lock the door"
NZ guy: (in infuriatingly laid back NZ guy fashion) " don't worry, this is the country"
Me: "I really think you should lock the doors"
NZ guy: (looking at me oddly but still annoyingly chilled out) 'nah man it'll be sweet"
Me: (starting to get worked up)"shut up and lock the doors"
NZ guy: "but it's the...."
Me: "LOCK THEM!!"
NZ guy: (look of fear in eyes) "ok..... "
So we proceeded, along an amazing wooden walkway, through the magnificent trees so old when we touched them they felt more like stone than like wood. The whole scene looked like it had snuck off the set of The Hobbit for a quick smoke break and decided that it didn't fancy going back. (Right now I'm sure Sir Peter Jackson is yelling at a lowly forest wrangler... "HOW DO YOU LOSE A WHOLE FOREST. And what am I supposed to do with all these elves now!)
As I walked through the trees I was worrying about the bags in the car and my current financial situation and WTF I was going to do about my work situation (I contract as an English Language Teacher and work is thin on the ground at the moment. Really thin). I looked around and thought "Oh Trees" and then I stopped (I was absent-mindedly videoing said trees for posterity) and thought - "These trees have been here for hundreds of years... and I'm here now... and I think I'm missing it."
So I hung out with the trees for a bit and tried to hang out with the moment too, this is not easy for me. I also realised that I'm not going to change... thinking about every angle and wanting to be prepared is part of my personality and the years of trying to be someone different haven't made a dent in my intrinsic behavioral patterns, but have succeeded in making me dislike myself and have made having 'fun' seem like a whole lot of hard work.
So what to do... maybe the secret would be to accept that I'm neurotic and a bit odd and try to do things anyway. To stop fighting what I am and maybe work with it for a change, being organised and responsible isn't a terrible trait (it's not a sexy trait either but I have an electric guitar that makes up for it). As I thought that I became aware of the trees, really aware of them and I just wanted to laugh and laugh. It was a moment's revelation that will probably result in a lifetime of having to deal with myself.
The rest of the weekend turned into a blur of awesomeness... we drank tequila, I sang ACDC with the pub band (didn't know the words but with ACDC does it really matter if you can get through the chorus), we did carpet synchronized swimming (don't ask) and my fellow travellers turned our lounge into an epic blanket fort.
The next day we ended up at an awesome place called 'Action World' where you can try out tight-rope walking; trapeze; rock climbing but to gain entry to these you have to go on the super slide, which looks fine from the ground but at the top it's like a nightmare tower of terror (especially for me with my epic fear of heights)
I didn't want to go. I really didn't. I was terrified but in keeping with my new plan to accept myself I decided not to try to convince myself that I wasn't terrified. I waited for my turn, feeling terrified, I went up the weird, wobbly stairs, feeling terrified, I sat at the top of the slide in the awkward half pillow case thing you have to sit in, really really really f&#@ng terrified and then I went down the slide. And then I knew really terrified! When I finished I waited for a bit and went again. And then I went again. By the third time the terror was turning into excitement and anticipation. "New Zealand's best lasagna maker" mentioned the same thing when she went on the trapeze. She said she had fallen off so many things that by the time she went on the trapeze she just didn't care anymore. (She fell off the high tight-rope about a hundred times but in the end she made it across... you always do)
As sit here writing this I don't feel like a different person. I feel the same, if anything in some ways I feel more stressed and more scared about the future not because it's going to be terrible but because I know that I just have to keep doing the things that scare me until they don't scare me anymore. And because now I have no excuses not to do things just because they're scary. All I can do is be as prepared as I can be and then be prepared to jump or to fall off... and get back on again.
Which is a metaphor for life I guess. Just keep falling off and getting back on again... and like the trapeze instructor lady said "don't look down - that's when you fall. Look up at where you're going and you'll make the jump"
This is me going down the slide from the tower of terror!