The canvas walls closed off an area fourteen by sixteen feet. The wardens had told me that, bragging it up, making it sound spacious. On the phone, sitting at a college swimming pool, when I’d been accepting this job, it had sounded palatial.
– Pete Fromm, Indian Creek Chronicles: A Winter Alone in the Wilderness
Last night I sat, enjoying a hot cup of licorice root tea, reading Indian Creek Chornicles: A Winter Alone in the Wilderness, a book my father-in-law sent down from Libby. I stopped mid-sentence: “[…] it had sounded palatial.”
My mind chugged into gear, reminded of various moments, where I was given the impression that I would receive a grand, life-altering event or experience to only find that they didn’t. Almost as if the idea’s sticky fibers of life disintegrated while being spoken, and I was left with a deflated expectation and a long face of disappointment.
Maybe I wasn’t really listening when the gift was being bestowed. Maybe I didn’t hear the whispered fine print. Or maybe I was so caught up in me that I couldn’t hear the truth of what was actually being said.
I’ve done that with jobs and apartments, movies and parties, restaurants and books, travels and concerts. I’m sure there are a plethora of other situations and ideas given, where I’ve thought I would walk into a magnificent moment only to find that reality had other plans.
“That’s it?” I would ask. “I thought it was supposed to this or that or better or amazing. ” Mmm.
And, really, how often do people use the word palatial? I don’t hear it all the time, maybe another reason it caught my eye, the picture of a palace comes to mind, which then leads me to grand and rewarding.
It’s amazing what expectations do to the mind. Expectations alter my mind to the point of me believing what my mind is telling me, regardless of how factually misleading the information is.
I grew up with a saying, “If it’s too good to be true, it most likely is.” That was true, most of the time, and, yet, I’ve also had experiences where the “too good to be true” turned out to be real and amazing – they just didn’t show up in the package I thought they should.
What am I getting at? I suppose what speaks to me, is this idea that even though there may be many things that are too good to be true there are also many things that are simply true and good.
I need not let my negative thinking get in the way of me doing something or trying something, even if it doesn’t sound “palatial” enough. Sometimes the greatest moments and gifts are delivered in the smallest and dullest of packages.
Like in this book, this young college student lived in the wilderness for seven months babysitting salmon eggs on his own and emerged from the forest a new man. This didn’t occur because he knew that would happen or that he would even want that to happen. Or because “it sounded palatial” over the phone when he was romancing the idea of living alone for several months in the woods.
His transformation stemmed from showing up, following through, and remaining teachable.
How many times in my own life has difficulty been the saving grace for my soul, my life? All because I was challenged to face my fears, myself, and my convictions and instead show up, follow through (even though I didn’t want to), and remain teachable?
I can’t count how many times.
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