I was speaking to a friend today who is conflicted about something related to his workplace. He isn’t happy and it is affecting him on the days he is scheduled to go into work. I suggested that it is probably affecting him even on the days he doesn’t have to go in to work because it is always at least in his thoughts or in the back of his mind. He is concerned about leaving the job because he doesn’t want to hurt his friend who he is helping by working there. I offered that his situation is analogous to an out of balance wheel on a car. If the wheel is unbalanced, the whole car shakes. And if you let it stay out of balance long enough, the shaking can get so violent that you wouldn’t be able to control the vehicle well enough to keep it on the road. This is how I feel about my friend’s situation. If he is unhappy, then his life is out of balance with what he wants for himself, and one way or another, this is going to end up with him needing to get off the road. The question is: Is it better to pull off the road under your own control to remedy the problem, or to wait until the point in which the vehicle just goes off the road on its own?
I set up my site to allow me to post via e-mail, and so I am writing this on my Blackberry while I sit in a small patch of grass amongst the palm trees and enjoy the breezes and sunshine outside the office building where I work. I have begun to understand a little bit more about the concept of arranging the pieces we are given and allowing the parts of my life to ‘fall together’ instead of ‘fall apart’. I’m thankful for so many things: my family, friends, faith. Each day I feel a little more connected to the ‘oneness’ I’ve heard so much about. I took my first yoga class yesterday and thoroughly enjoyed it. I can’t say I made a spiritual connection in it yet. I was still very much in the physical realm, sweating profusely after about 20 minutes of poses. But I am looking forward to letting go and allowing myself to receive whatever I’m supposed to receive. I thank my cousin, Mark, for the encouragement to do it, and to Wayne Dyer who said, “We get (receive) more of what we are, not what we think about.” That’s a big differentiator for me. I’m eager to find out what I am.
Technology has made the world more ‘connected’ and that may or may not always be a good thing. One of the biggest challenges of using technology as a tool is determining which tool is right for the job. If the only tool you own is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail. The right tool is the one that helps you to meet a specific objective or goal in the easiest or shortest way possible. In some instances, you cannot take a shortcut to get to where you want to go, but you’ll still need the right tool. Just because you can’t get it done any faster doesn’t mean you can’t get it done more efficiently. In the end, those who are more efficient are likely to more consistently meet their objectives.
For a while back in late 2009 I was off TV, and I was actually being productive. But it is definitely an addiction for me, and I soon found myself in front of it for 4 or 5 hours a night again. Aargh! Even now, not even Rue Paul’s Dragrace can keep me away. I don’t know how my wife finds these programs, and I don’t know why I watch them. Mainly I just wait for King of the Hill to come on at 10pm. My top 5 favorites are all cartoons: Simpsons, Futurama, King of the Hill, Family Guy and Bugs Bunny. Hmmmm….does that say anything about me? I wonder what I could accomplish if I was spending even a quarter of my nightly TV watching doing something else. If anybody is reading this, let me know what suggestions you have for me to kick this habit and make better use of my time. Gotta go for now, my show is starting in a few minutes.
If your intention is to catch fish, there is no point in going fishing when the tide is wrong. I like to fish for saltwater, striped bass in Rhode Island. For the type of fishing that I do, the tide matters. You might not always catch a keeper when the tide is right, but going fishing against the tide will guarantee that you won’t. There are times in my own life when I have chosen to fish with the tide and when I have chosen to go against it.
The transitional stages of our lives are much like tides. I suspect that science and psychology have not yet identified all of the stages that exist in humanity, and that they probably fluctuate from person to person. However, some very common transitional stages are tidal. I read a news report based on a recent survey that concluded that older people are less unhappy than younger people because they have fewer outside stresses such as: money, children at home, and interpersonal work relationships. I believe older people are also more familiar with the tides, and may bring acceptance to events more frequently. Of course, this is my own general observation.
Whatever your intention is, the more you can align yourself with the tides, the easier it becomes to achieve the results you want. It is entirely possible to create a life for yourself in which you do what you want to do instead of what you have to do as long as you remember that doing what you want to do is not the same as Doing whatever you want.
The early days of summer (although technically it was still spring) allowed us many slow business days during the week. Even though we didn’t have many customers, there was a lot of work to do. Because of the deferred maintenance on the Shack, there were many opportunities for cleaning. As I mentioned earlier, I never would have guessed that the grill was actually silver underneath those layers of grime. Yet due to my mother’s persistence, I was able to get it clean. The fryer had several years’ worth of fried particles accumulated at its bottom, and I felt like quite the archaeologist while peeling back the layers of fried clams, clam cakes, French fries and onion rings from previous generations. Of course, nobody would have known those treasures were down there because the oil had not been changed in a long while. It has a viscosity similar to syrup, but believe me when I tell you, it was not so sweet.
Since we didn’t have many customers during the week, I spent my time cleaning, eating, going to the beach and smoking Muniemaker cigars. Often I would borrow one of the rental canoes and just paddle in and around the neat little coves of the salt pond while puffing on a cigar, I thought I was pretty cool. However, I do have advice for any of you that attempt this feat in the future. Beware of the fact that a lit cigar is very hot at the end and that paddling a canoe requires moving your arms back and forth across your body to achieve a straight line, forward motion. Many times, your arms will need to pass somewhere in the proximity of your face. If you have an 8 or 9 inch lit cigar protruding from your mouth as you do this, you WILL GET BURNED. Of course, you may say to yourself, “Well, I won’t do that again.” You may be right, but you also may be wrong, and you may BURN YOURSELF REPEATEDLY with the cigar. You may then say to yourself, “I will put the cigar down, and then I will paddle.” You may think this is a brilliant idea. However, canoes are naturally unstable, and there are not a lot of seats on them. If you put a lit cigar down next to you while attempting to paddle a canoe, YOU WILL BURN YOUR ASS REPEATEDLY. So, that’s my little public safety tip to you. Later I will explain to you the dangers of looking for a gasoline leak on a motorboat at night while using a cigarette lighter to see what you are doing.
The weekends would provide excitement at the Shack as visitors would come to spend time at the beach and enjoy the weather. We got into a pretty good routine when it came to serving our customers. My cousin, AnneMarie would take the orders at the window, and write up the tickets for whatever needed to be grilled, fried, or nuked. She would be responsible for handing out the drinks, candy and ice cream novelties. My mother would handle the orders for meatball grinders (if you aren’t from RI, you may have to Google that word), and chowder from the Crockpot, as well as continually prepping the batter for clamcakes, and handling any other miscellaneous kitchen duties. The grill and the fryer were my domain. Or so I thought.
As the summer wore on, we naturally got busier and busier. And as we reached the height of the tourism season, it would be very common for us to do about 40-50 lunch orders in about an hour. This peak time would be miserable as well as unbearable. But seriously, the Shack was not that big of a place in terms of square footage or cooking appliances, and there was a certain frenetic elegance to the dance we would do while fulfilling the orders as quickly as possible. As my cousin would post the tickets on the line, I would load the grill and drop the fry baskets continuously. The exhaust fan which had to be from the 1940’s, would drone deafeningly over the grill and drown out almost all other sound. My mother, who cannot hear out of her right ear, was a whirling dervish, pouring cups and bowls of chowder, making clamcake batter, getting more stock from the refrigerator, and all the while keeping an eye out for any scofflaws that tried to get past paying for parking if they weren’t going to buy something from the Shack.
During one particularly hectic day, as I was dumping onion rings and French fries into the fryer and then loading up the serving containers to get the orders out, my mother made note that I was perhaps not watching portion control as closely as she would like:
“Yaw givin’ away too many onion rings deyah. Weyah gonna go down the tubes!”
My reply, which I literally mumbled under my breath, with a huge exhaust fan running that did nothing to change the fact that it was hotter than hell, and with a stream of orders piling up on me, was (and please ask the children to leave the room for this next exchange),
“Man, fuck this shit.”
My mother, deaf in one ear, under the sounds of that obnoxiously loud fan, and in the midst of flipping some cheeseburgers onto buns, wheeled around, shook a greasy spatula with in my face and with a look that seemed to say, “I will hit you with this”, replied,
“YOU! FUCK YAW SHIT!”
Well, she did have a point there. And I conceded. For the remainder of the day, and the season, I literally counted the number of onion rings that went into every order. 8. That’s how many, and I still remember.
Next -Part 6- Winding Down