Monday, March 8, 2010

Coyote With A Bellyful of Roadrunner

I have Mondays off. Typically, I guess because it's the official first day of the work week, I use this day for chores & paperwork. Most Mondays I'll sleep in a little bit longer than usual, but that's about it as far as frills are concerned.

Today I had to get up early to take my wife to work, because our other car is in the shop. It was kind of a late night, and normally I would feel a little groggy getting up as early as I did this morning after a night like that, but I felt fantastic this morning. I think it's because I've been lifting weights and doing some minor aerobic stuff lately, have cut out sugary drinks, and am taking vitamins. These are small changes, but they've had an impact.

Anyway, We got my 8 year old on the bus, and my preschooler and I took my wife to work. After we dropped her off and collected our bye-bye kisses, we went to Dunkin Donuts for breakfast. We ordered our food and sat down at a little road-facing booth.

It was one of the most relaxing experiences I've had in a long time.

I have a hard time unwinding. I'm always moving on to the next thing, always war gaming the next big victory. It's just the kind of guy I am. For the last 8 years the trophy was a bachelor's degree in psychology, and a job in my field. Before that, it was to save up enough money to buy a house. Before that, it was kids, and before that, it was finding a life partner to set up shop with. Along the way, I've had a slew of somewhat quixotic goals to move towards as well. In high school, I was in a rock band, and later tried my hand at stand up comedy. When those things didn't work out, I started writing. Writing hasn't been a money maker, but it's something I enjoy, so I keep doing it. The point is, I'm Wile E. Coyote, and for my entire life up to this point, I've had some kind of roadrunner that I've been chasing after, but no real plan for what to do after I caught the thing.

Well, I've caught my roadrunner (several times over), but I'm still ordering things out of the ACME catalog. It's time for me to shift to maintenance mode. I've found a wonderful partner in my wife. The courtship is over. Now it's time to be a good husband. We had two beautiful kids. Time to be a good father. We bought a house. Time to cut the grass. I've got my degree and a good job. Time to punch the clock.

Relaxing in a Dunkin Donuts with my son was an epiphany for me. There were no homework assignments on my mind, and the anxiety that 'I may not come through!' was nowhere in sight. I was comfortable. Amazing.

Shifting gears from 'go-go-go' to 'keep the ship afloat' might be a challenge, but I think I'll enjoy it. I like being able to read what I want to read and do what I want to do in my spare time, without feeling any anxiety about what other people may think or some looming deadline.

After we left Dunkin, we drove to a hilly, wooded part of the city I'm not very familiar with. The road zig-zags around hills and passes by farms and historic buildings. Instead of taking the route I'm used to, I asked my son which way I should turn at every stop sign. Eventually, my internal compass was totally confused. Along the way we stopped at a playground, and hung out there for awhile. After that, we tried to make our way back home. We were ridiculously lost, and it took us about an hour to find our way back to the interstate, but it was time well spent.

cross posted at Kos.


Tom Gray said...

This is great Spencer. I feel like I am the same way. I am always looking at what is next instead of living in the present. Maybe I should look into converting into the maintenance mode. Thank you for this post.

Spencer Troxell said...

Hey Tom, thanks for reading, and thanks for the comment.

I'm glad you felt me on this. Keep me posted on your conversion from Wile E. Coyote to Bob the Builder. I think I'm ready for it, and I think the cartoon analogies I used above are proof.

Abby Troxell said...

Great post Spencer! I am pretty sure our boys love the little daddy moments that they get with you. As well as the big moments. The way they talk about you and tell their friends stories about 'the time with my daddy', or 'my daddy likes that.' Tells me that they respect you and love you!

Lodo Grdzak said...

All that clean living and then...breakfast at Dunkin Donuts. Well hell, don't let me blow it for you. Be Here Now. Now Be Here. Doing nothing (and finding peace in it) is sometimes the hardest of all. Sounds like you're getting it down if not yet mastered it. And I like that Roadrunner analogy. That's (unfortunately) the essence of America and capitalism right there. Always chase chase chase.

Excuse me, but...after what?

Spencer Troxell said...

Abby: Thanks, honey. I hope I'm doing alright by them (and by you).

Lodo: You busted me on that Dunkin Donuts thing. I'm so oblivious that it didn't even seem like a contradiction to me until you mentioned it.

I like the socio-political twist you put on the roadrunner analogy. I think there's something to it. In the most contemporary & recognizable version of the American dream, we're all clones sacrificing our hearts, livers, and hairlines for the bottom line of whatever company we're working for; and that's no way to live.

Willie Y said...

It's nice to take a deep breath and look around every once in a while. Good for you and it is good for everybody around you Spencer.

Spencer Troxell said...

I agree, Willie. I'm going to try to make it a regular part of my routine from here on out.