I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The best laid plans

Why couldn't the sky look like this today?
Yesterday I didn't get to go skydiving as I'd planned, because the weather didn't cooperate. Actually, compared to today, it was much better skydiving weather, as it cleared out late in the afternoon. But today the clouds are low and dismal and the chances of me going skydiving are very low. This weekend I had planned to go out both Saturday and Sunday, expecting the Pacific Northwest summer blue skies to continue. "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry." Makes me realize that things rarely turn out the way you expect.

Last night I woke from a dream in which I was a young woman who was trying to discourage a guy who wouldn't leave me alone. This sort of thing hasn't happened to me for decades, but in the dream it was very immediate and real. When I woke up, I realized that the young man reminded me of someone but I couldn't think who. As I lay in bed thinking, I realized that there are many facets of my mind that remain mysterious to me. Why do we dream? What function do dreams have? I was there in the dream, I could feel the strong emotions, both mine and his, the situation as real and solid as this keyboard. It took a few minutes for the dream to fade away.

Then my mind turned to an old friend I haven't thought of in a while, Baat. I began to imagine what might be going on in her life. We met when she was a skydiving neophyte. Before I even met Smart Guy, she showed up with 35 jumps at Skydive Colorado and we became friends. We ended up traveling together to different places to skydive, such as Arizona, and we shared a tent now and then. I introduced her to the skydiver who ended up becoming her husband, a postgraduate student at the University of Colorado. They now have three children, and I went to her Facebook page when I woke this morning and looked at pictures to see how they're doing these days. That's the nice thing about Facebook: I can see what is going on with friends and family by simply logging on and taking a visual tour.

Back to the early 1990s: Baat was getting ready to attend college but didn't have any idea what she wanted to study. She thought perhaps she might become a teacher, and she was smart enough and talented enough to do whatever might interest her. At the time I needed someone at work who might be able to help me create a web page for our section. This was back in the days before everybody had websites, and there weren't even any tools for creating them. Mosaic had just become available to use as a browser. I hired Baat to take a stab at it, with none of us having much idea how to proceed. Smart Guy taught her the basic functions of html coding, and she was like a duck that just discovered water: she was simply amazing. Within a week she knew more than I could have imagined, than anyone could have taught her, and her imagination and innate ability gave us our first website.

She then knew what she wanted to study: computer science. Baat has gone on to become an innovator in computer science and technology and now works at Women 2.0 in San Francisco, a company that aspires "to increase the number of female founders of technology startups with inspiration, information and education." It just goes to show that you can never tell what occurrence might start any of us on a new path that ends up becoming our passion.

When I think of my life today, with the beginning of my eighth decade just around the corner, I wonder what life event might cross my path and change everything. Of course, it could just as easily be the sudden passing of a loved one, but I'm not even going to go there in my thoughts. That has already happened to me too many times. What I would like to imagine instead is a fortuitous conversation at the coffee shop that leads to an exciting new adventure or two. Doesn't that sound like fun?

My life has a form to it that I hesitate to mess with: riding the bus four days a week to town to have a latte at the coffee shop and then take my exercise class; spending every Thursday in the mountains with my senior friends; riding my bike around town and learning all about the bike trails; and driving down to Snohomish in the summertime to play in the air. I've made many friends and acquaintances and feel a distinct sense of belonging here. But there's always room for improvement.


Teresa Evangeline said...

I've been looking at this recently, myself. What new adventures await me? I do want to feel that anything is possible. I just need to remain open. And I want to do so for as long as I'm on this planet. You are always inspiring.

Bragger said...

I need new adventures in my life or I become restless. My latest adventure is a risky one and potentially expensive. Details to follow on my blog. :)

Sandi said...

I love that no matter how full your life is, you are so open to new ideas/adventures/experiences/people! That is what makes your writing so interesting to read!

I'm sorry that the weather didn't cooperate for skydiving, but I'm sure that whatever you decide to fill this day with will be worthwhile.

I have to admit that I was thrilled to wake to a freshly washed world this morning . . . I love not having to water the garden and plants on the deck!

Anonymous said...

...not to mention you read a lot, garden, and watch movies! A full life, indeed. You also have many blog friends, who would love to meet you some day. Don't forget gigi in Hawaii!

Retired English Teacher said...

The best laid plans do get disrupted at times, but I guess there is always next time. Right? I am sorry the weather is disrupting plans in your life.

I do really appreciate how open you are at looking for new possibilities and adventures. This keeps you interested and interesting. It also keeps me inspired.

Gigi said...

I rarely remember my dreams upon waking - so when I do I have to wonder what caused me to do so.

You have such an open attitude toward life; one that I would do well to adopt. Sorry you missed out on skydiving - but who knows what adventures tomorrow might bring for you?

Red said...

Variety is the spice of life. I think your watching to catch the next big wave. Changes happen so quickly these days that there could be many more interesting adventures ahead. You are ready to go on them.

Arkansas Patti said...

Just think, you are responsible for the direction another person's life took. That is rather heady.
You are so open and active, no telling what direction tomorrow will bring. Just be sure to take us with you.

Linda Myers said...

You're content, but you still say "yes". Like this year when you've taken up gardening.

Who knows what you'll say "yes" to next?

Rita said...

Sorry to hear you didn't get to go jump out of planes and fly for a while. Best laid plans, is right. One must be adaptable to the shifts of the universe, I guess.

BTW--you already have taken some new adventures on--the bicycling and the gardening. They've become such a part of your life already that you have barely noticed the change. But they are both big changes. Who knows what the future holds! :):)

Manju Modiyani said...

Yo DJan! :D
Lovely blog...Went through several posts...
It reflects your way of life..You are so full of energy..
I loved those pics of yours on the top of the blog :)

Skydiving is something I would think a hundred times before going for.. You are brave!

Do visit my blogs in your spare time.

Grandmother said...

What a full, fun life you lead and offer interesting reflections as well!

Dee said...

Dear DJan, I'm in awe of the Mystery of life. You offered Baat a job and that changed her life. What a wonderful story to share with us.

And I'm also in awe of your ability to move and find new things to do and new friends. You inspire me.


Elisa Hirsch said...

Isn't it amazing what life brings our way? I've been looking back, wondering how I've ended up where I'm at today. Some of it just blows me away. Pretty neat.

P.S. I love dreams. Have you ever looked up aspects of your dreams in a dream book? They're so interesting.

Friko said...

Doesn't sound like your life needs improving. Perhaps a little renewal here and there, that goes for all of us, particularly the over 60s. Perhaps a minor tweak here and there too, a step aside from routine. Improvement sounds like a major undertaking.

At my age I've grown lazy and basically I like to stay in my comfort zone, with the odd foray into a new adventure, that doesn't mean reorganising my whole modus operandi.

KleinsteMotte said...

It's good that you have connected with so many over time. I think we are all better off when there are feelings of being together.
The dream issue is being studied at length by many these days. I guess the idea is to try to help those who develop memory loss and so on.

CrazyCris said...

Dreams... I haven't been able to remember a single one since the summer of 1993. Weird!

New adventures are always just around the corner for anyone "awake" enough to become aware of them! They can be small, they can be big... I'm always looking forward to the next one! :o)

You've got a wonderful life there DJan, and it's great how much you enjoy it and I love that you share it with us!