that perfect hand…

In Ocean's 11, Danny said that "the house always wins. If you play long enough, never change the stakes, then the house takes you. Unless, when that perfect hand comes along, you bet big… and then, you take the house." Here's the hand I've been dealt, sometimes it's risky and sometimes it's safe, but all the time… it's perfect. It's mine.


rolling waves

When I lived on Vancouver Island, one of my favourite places to tuck away was leaning up against a piece of driftwood and burrowed in the sand, watching the water as it crashed on the beach. I preferred this spot at night time, when the glow of the moon mirrored soul-type things. Hours spent – together or by myself – included a book, or beer and guitar, or catching scattered stars, arranging them however we thought they belonged.

The ocean…unrelenting, wild, and commanding the highest reverence, is home. Geographically, in some ways, but more – that feeling, of truth and the nudges in a particular direction – the not relenting, impassioned, reverent knowing I’ve got to do some things differently never lets up; home is being in the space of knowing which direction I want to go and not doing anything about it. At all. It feels safer that way, and far more controlled, when deep in my bones I actually do know what needs to be done, but keeping it at arms length means I still get to be in charge [or, the illusion of such]. I don’t have to risk anything. I think it’s time to challenge the comfort in this space.

I bought a bike about a week ago – the perfect place for this story to begin again. I’ve wanted a bike for years. Years. I’ve actually never owned my own bike. Growing up as the third of six kids there seemed to always be a bike available to me, but I never had my very own. As I’ve made some aggressive changes in my lifestyle these last few years, biking has appealed more and more as an alternative to running. So I finally got one.

In one short week, biking became a powerful metaphor for me and how I do things – and doing the exact opposite. On my first ride of my literal adult life, aside from a nice winery-hopping cruise on my 30th birthday, I was determined to ride the entire reservoir [16 k]. As I got going, I learned all too quickly that while I know how to ride a bike, I had NO idea how to shift gears on the ‘new’ bike – as I hadn’t done so since the late 90s and I think bikes have changed a bit since then. And the hills? Forget that I am in the best shape of my life, biking is a different exercise that I wasn’t prepared for… even though the hills are barely hills, because I couldn’t figure out how to shift properly for awhile, I had to WALK up the little inclines. But I did manage to complete the ride. The whole ‘first ride’ experience truly felt as inaugural as anything brand new – I have no idea what I am doing.

See, usually I won’t attempt something unless I have almost absolute certainty that I will be successful at it. And unfortunately, not ‘sort of’ successful, or ‘partly’ successful, but absolutely, almost expert, could-teach-a-class-on-it successful. Which is why I just don’t try much. I’ve convinced myself that being the master of some is better than an amateur of much.

Better? No, I realize that. Easier? Much easier.

And I’ll be honest – I didn’t think biking would be hard! If anything, I thought it would be a leisurely reward for my runs, alternating difficulty. Oops. With my perceptions so entirely off base, I pursued the new activity only to find out that it isn’t what I thought it would be. Aside from a learning curve that would be laughable [and not, at all, a curve] to most people I know, and the sore ass from a few long rides, I know that my determination to be a ‘really great biker’ is not why I started the hobby. I wanted to do something different, but I didn’t want it to be hard. Now what?

I’m going to keep riding. I see the need to pursue this if only because all my instincts are screaming against me doing so. It’s a risk. But such a small one! So small. And while I get that, it’s the first thing in a long time that has surprised me in that it’s not at ALL what I considered. I love it, and have had more fun with the new activity that I thought, but it’s not easy for me and I know it’s okay that it’s easy for others. Pretty simple, but something so foreign to me – risk taking.

On my road trip yesterday, I had two significant moments. First, I saw an old friend who is relentlessly pursuing his dream – mastering his craft while building his business – and I was struck by not only the artistry of his purpose, but that not doing it is not an option. He wouldn’t even consider stepping away from this path – his path. I really love that. I don’t remember the last time I knew I had to do something so fiercely. Or so imperfectly.

The other? I was listening to a podcast that included an interview with a well known author. She was talking about fear, and how she lives in a constant state of it. In fact, her fear is so rampant, she doesn’t know life without it. However, she chooses to harness the sense to propel her forward. I love this passage from her recent novel – “Fear is always triggered by creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome. This is nothing to be ashamed of. It is, however, something to be dealt with.” Something to be dealt with. It just might be time.

Assuredly, fear is implicit in why I’m so unwilling to take the risks I need to. And I think it’s even worse that I know what I need to do, in so many ways, I just don’t. For all those reasons. The only truth I can mustre is that I can’t get away with it any more – there’s no ignorance when it’s so clear. If only I perceived the risks were easy, like riding a bike, only to then find out their difficulty… I would do so much better in taking those initial steps.

Anyway. I’m starting with writing. Back to the trusty, reliable standby – perhaps one of the most natural expressions of my creativity, and of my soul. And a venture back to those late nights at the lagoon, as the waves crashed and fear, though very big and very real, was far enough in front of us that catching up to it meant stepping right into the water – the only true way to experience the ocean.

grace and peace.