Sometimes change is so incremental, or so long in transition, that when it finally happens it sneaks up on you unawares and without any fanfare, there it is. You look back and it’s hard to fathom how you got from THERE to HERE. Other times, however, you find yourself in an untenable situation and have to make a choice. But what if you don’t want the change and what if there there is no good choice. It’s Shitty Choice A versus Crappy Choice B? Or “I don’t want this change at all?”
“Between the devil and the deep blue sea is an idiom meaning a dilemna, ie to choose between two undesirable situations” Thanks Wikipedia
This week I power-read through Cheryl Strayed book “Wild, From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” her memoir of hiking the PCT from California to Washington state solo.
It’s about how she found herself one day with a pack that weighed more than half what she did, walking down a scorching trail in the Mojave Desert in California and realizing that she was wholly and completely unprepared for what she was about to undertake. As the days and weeks of what was, truly, a pilgrimage in the oldest sense of that word – a difficult journey involving sacrifice and often pain – passed, she realized that, on a daily basis, she really only had one choice to make. Go forward or go back. Here’s how she describes it:
“The thing about hiking the PCT, the thing that was so profound to me that summer – and yet also, like most things, so very simple – was how few choices I had and how often I had to do the thing I least wanted to do. No numbing it down . . . or covering it up . . .I considered my options. There were only two and they were essentially the same. I could go back in the direction I had come from, or I could go forward in the direction I intended to go. . . And so I walked on”.
Having to do the thing you least want to do. I hate that.
My gut reaction has always been “I can fix that”, combined with “if I just persist and work long and hard enough, I can create the outcome I want”. Maybe that’s a good way to deal with some situations, but I can say, with the most heartfelt conviction, that it can also lead us (read – ME) to stay in situations long after I should have high-tailed it out of there, maybe a bit beat up and scarred (metaphorically speaking) but considerably more intact than I eventually ended up being after hanging in long after the writing was on the wall.
A recent imbroglio with my landlord has brought a long simmering situation to a head. A supportive call from my partner to see if there had been a resolution to the most recent drama show with her (there wasn’t) ended up with me sobbing in the aisles at Costco – wow I wish it had been somewhere dramatic and evocative, but Costco it was. As he calmly pointed out that what I wanted was not possible – all evidence of the past year was against it – we got to the point in the discussion where I realized I was faced with Shitty Choice A or Crappy Choice B – and I didn’t want to do either. I wanted what wasn’t possible. FML.
I spent the next day hiding out, escaping reality in a good book – another go to place for me – books are always reliable escapism. Not only was it escapism this time, it was also a life lesson. As I followed Cheryl down the trail I was with her every time she was faced with a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea, and every time she chose to go forward, because standing still wasn’t an option and going back unthinkable.
So forward it is for me too. And if anyone knows of a great place to rent in Kitsilano, let me know!!
I also learned while researching this post that “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea” is a jazz standard, orginally recorded by Cab Calloway and covered by everyone from Thelonius Monk to George Harrison. This Ella Fitzgeral version caught me.
A great surprise this week – one of my favourite bands dropped an unexpected new record. Wilco’s “Star Wars” got a lot of airplay at my house (well at least it’s my house for now!!). And because Jeff Tweedy and the bank are just supremely awesome people, it’s available as a free download for 30 days. http://wilcoworld.net/splash-star-wars-links/ That blinking cat GIF is just spooky!
Here’s a live stream of the whole album from Pitchfork Music Fest a few weeks ago. Enjoy! Can’t wait for their Vancouver show August 12th.