Santa Cruz, California, October 28th, 2014

Santa Cruz, California, October 28th, 2014

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Siva Stephens--Guest Post

My Greatest Adventure

Hi, Redhead fans! My name is Siva Stephens. When Jennifer put out the call for guest bloggers  while she's in Bolivia, I volunteered because – well, partly because we Writers never turn down even the most roundabout invitation to Write, but mostly because  it was Jennifer asking. Everyone wants to support their friends, but so often opportunities to help are limited to things like posting, “Woot! Go for it!” notes on Facebook  or saying, “Tell me if you need anything” at the end of a difficult phone call. I jumped at the chance to do something practical for her!

Since Jennifer is off on her Big Adventure, she has asked us to write about our own experiences in that line. I admit that I've had some adventures that sound pretty great on paper; I lived in The Far East for several years, I honeymooned in Europe, and I celebrated my 50th birthday by diving into the pool at a Nudist Resort.

The problem with adventures is this: they are often more “adventurous” when you're dreaming about them beforehand and remembering them afterward. While you're having them, you're the same big ol' doofus you always are.

I had a baby daughter when I lived in Japan, and I would smack her tender little head into the door frame every single time I put her into her car seat. We were surrounded by wooden-lacework temples, cherry blossoms and roadside vending machines that distributed edible underpants, but all I could see were my daughter's appraising eyes fixed on mine in that split-second before the screams began -  that gaze which said so clearly, “Really, Mom? Again?"
© Bogdan | Stock Free Images
 You just don't see that in the travel brochures.

I spent a lot of time in London wondering how long it would take my washed-in-the-sink panties to dry on the hotel radiator, and my studiedly-casual strut across the Nudie Club's courtyard was negated seconds later by the decidedly unrehearsed shriek of terror I emitted in the deep end of the pool. (In my defense, the club was in a rural area, and I thought I was being attacked by river otters. I had no idea that certain parts would float so high.)

On the other hand, I've experienced giddy waves of rapture at the most seemingly-mundane moments: When that same daughter said “Mama!” and laughed for the first time, and when the love of my life walked into the laundry room, opened a shiny box containing a diamond solitaire and proposed to me while I was taking clothes out of the dryer, and when a friend who Knows Some People said, “Hey! Send me a couple of chapters from that book you're working on. No promises, but I'll see what I can do.”

You know. Life.

When Jennifer was preparing for her first trip to Bolivia, she confessed to me one day that she was having a slight attack of cold feet. What was she thinking, she wondered? She was a suburban housewife, she had children and a husband at home, she had Responsibilities with a capital R. Wouldn't it make more sense for her to support the Radio Project in some other, more prudent way? She had joint trouble, foot trouble, and considered herself out-of-shape. What good was she going to do, prancing around the Andes? She'd just hold everyone back.

In a rare, blinding moment of knowing what to say at a time like this (instead of 2 days later), I shared the story of the seashell. It seems that a missionary in inland Africa was nearing the end of his stay, and one of his students had been pondering the perfect going-away gift. He knew that his beloved teacher loved shells, so he set out on foot to the coast, in search of a flawless specimen. The round trip took several days. When at last he presented his treasure to the missionary, the missionary was delighted. “It's the most beautiful seashell I've ever seen! Is that where you've been? I'm touched – you have traveled so far, just for me!” The boy smiled and said, “Long walk part of gift.”
© Rocher | Stock Free Images
 To me, that's the essence of adventure – it's not necessary to be at a different altitude, what we must do is cultivate different attitudes. If we open our eyes and our minds to what's new and inspirational, we'll find Excitement in a trip to the grocery store; if we keep our thoughts firmly stuffed into those same narrow, familiar grooves, we wouldn't recognize Romance at the top of the Eiffel Tower during sunset.

Sure, right now Jennifer is trekking through exotic part of the world, but she's also having an adventure of the spirit - the very best kind.

1 comment:

  1. So true! So thrilled that Jennifer could go on the trip (and raised much of her money by cooking delicious cheesecakes and honey buns!).

    Hilarious stories! I'd imagine Japan was beautiful, if low-ceilinged!