Rowing and Reality

This week has been interesting. Despite some downtime at work which has led to the yucky “I-have-nothing-to-do-or-contribute” feeling, overall it’s been pretty good. Similarly to the last post, I’m going to focus on the events that perhaps helped me.

First, I had an amazing time with the kids and some friends over the weekend. My wife’s friend organized a picnic with her family and us at a large urban park in the area. My wife also invited a friend who came with his son. The idea was to picnic outdoors. I was a bit suspect about how that would end up given the weather we traditionally have around here. Sure enough, it was a bit cold and it looked like it would rain. We all met up and ended up eating in a pagoda since it started drizzling and there was thunder. It never rained hard, but it was still exciting for the kids(and me). We ate and talked, the kids run were running around doing their own thing. With the girls and our friend’s son we did a mini-hike which led to some great views.

The organizing family left and the rest of us crammed into a rented row boat and went out on the lake. The kids wanted paddle boats, but being that they must be the most inefficient method of transportation, and since we all couldn’t fit in one, we overruled them. The kids all took turns rowing, requiring a few interventions on my part to keep us from crashing into other boats or the underside of bridges. I was surprised to see how much my daughters really wanted to keep at it. It was much more fun that I would have suspected. I guess what I found so special about the day was the fact that we were all doing something enjoyable as a group, and that it was outdoors. Normally I tend to do things by myself, surfing, reading, whatever. I play with the kids at home and take them to parks, but I still often find myself distracted. But there was something different about a group of us being outside where the kids could play, and then doing a specific group activity(in this case rowing a boat). Thank goodness my wife is so much better at getting invited to or coming up with these events.

The other interesting event was a conversation I had with my wife. The past week I had been feeling down. The previous weekend my wife and I had the night off and went out to eat. Among the topics of conversation was my last blog post. We had a good time at dinner and then went to a small house party at one of her co-workers. As an aside, I was surprised to see that they had the second Neurosis album on vinyl! Anyhow, we had fun, met some new people and just enjoyed doing activities that we used to do before kids.

A few days later my main memory of that night was the conversation regarding the blog. What I was focusing on was a comment from by my wife suggesting that I find additional activities to help me feel the way surfing does since I can’t get to the beach very often. Looking back I took it as a reminder that I was off in the clouds and my daydreams were exactly that. Since I tend to catrastrophize everything(ha! yet another example), it ended up meaning I should probably give up surfing, since I will never be close enough to the ocean. I felt a bit crushed, not by my wife, but by reality. I guess deep down I believed that there was some way to get more surfing in, find a job that feels really fulfilling( or least that I feel competent and useful at), and still be close to friends and family. This was a slap of reality.

After the fun day out with the kids I spoke to my wife and said that I had been kind of down that week(her response was essentially “duh!”). I told her how much fun I’d had in the park that day, and went on to share my belief that the conversation about the blog had been the trigger. She asked for clarification and then was surprised by how I remembered it, and then proceeded to fill me in on the rest of the conversation that I had somehow forgotten. To simplify the story, after expressing my desires for more surf, fulfilling work and still being close to family she repeated the long standing offer of either moving by her parents or moving closer to the beach somehow. I shot down those suggestions one way or another(jobs, lifestyle, rent, etc). From there she had suggested I find additional activities to help me feel better, since it seemed like I couldn’t get enough surfing in if we stay where we are.

The rest of the conversation came back to me, and I was really shocked about how much I had forgotten. I still harbor some of the thoughts that my dreams of beach, work and family are just that, dreams. However, it was illuminating to see how I managed to change up the story in my head so that external forces are what keep me from making those dreams happen, rather than my own fears. It’s something to think about going forward.

I think sharing my feelings with my wife, and getting some important feedback helped. I felt connected to her, and I was reminded about what a huge support and how amazing she is with me. I still don’t know what I’m doing in life, but it helps to know that I don’t have to figure out completely on my own. Similarly, feeling connected to my kids and other friends at the park was comforting. Now if I could just get the family to take up surfing I would be set!

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