Good Day Sunshine!
It was a sunny Saturday morning in Upstate New York. Soon, such words will be rarely spoken here. Winter will set in and the instinct will be to hibernate. That is why I decided to abandon my plans to go to the movies: you just don’t spend beautiful days like these indoors.
I didn’t really have any ideas about what to do – only that I wanted to be outside and I wanted to have my camera with me. My wife, still awash in the afterglow of the “mountain-climbing” excursion said, “Let’s just go – anyplace. Let’s have an adventure.” I guess that’s what happens when you start doing things and taking steps to broaden your world; you have to keep going.
My first thought was that I had set the bar too high. What could top hiking up a mountain? Maybe I didn’t want to know. The butterflies were already nibbling at my insides. But I stayed true to the promise that I made to myself: I would never back down simply because of fear. Going on a trip without prior planning is not easy for me to handle, but I said “yes.”
I won’t lie. The first part of the trip was a nightmare. Nothing worked to calm me down. I was in full-blown panic mode and very close to losing my breakfast as the car headed north. I hadn’t been this close to giving up in quite some time. This continued for at least a full half hour. I told my wife about it, and she asked me if I wanted to turn back. Every fiber of my being say “yes” except for my mouth. My mouth said “no.” I was determined to try even harder. I kept telling myself that I had to do this because something amazing was going to happen to me if I continued – and I wasn’t going home and missing it.
I wish that I could tell you that my trusty little formula worked and I was able to thwart the panic attack, unraveling it with the many “tricks” I have learned, but it just didn’t happen that way. The truth of the matter is that I don’t know how I got through it. It may be just a case of me “riding it out.” It may be a case of my stubbornness giving me enough strength to emerge from a very bad situation.
What Does it Mean?
I am not going to question it because the results were ultimately positive. But what if they weren’t? Then how should I feel? I have made up my mind that we should not always focus on the results. We should focus on the effort. I tried my best and “succeed or fail” we should be happy with that alone. (I don’t even like using the word “fail” because we don’t fail.) And that is the point that I want everyone to take from this. No matter what happens – no matter how bad you think it is, or how bad you feel about yourself – let it go. Forget it and move on. I know it is cliché to say, but tomorrow is another day. You will always have another chance.
What Happened? (Okay, the bad stuff is over. You can relax because it gets funny now.)
The rest of the day – without plans – I had a wonderful day. There were still enough colorful leaves on the trees to make the scenery beautiful. Along the way, I did see many amazing things, and I will share some of them with you because I brought my notebook with me and I wrote them all down.
The first thing that happened was unfortunate. An angry gentleman dressed in black and driving horse-drawn buggy made an inappropriate hand gesture in our direction. Maybe it was because we didn’t buy any of his pies. I am not sure. But we decided to ignore it and move on.
We passed a street,hospital, and a church; all of which had my name on them. I wondered if that was an omen, but didn’t let it bother me as I had not seen a cemetery with said name. I saw a sign that said “Fine for Littering,” and wondered why they would allow people to throw garbage on the ground up there. Shouldn’t the sign read “Don’t Litter!”
We drove past the gas station where the War of 1812 was fought, but the car was going too fast to take a photo. I never could remember much about that war – probably because the name was so boring – but I could always remember when it was fought. I guess they were lucky back then, to have a war start and end in the same year. I bet it helped the kids get better grades in history, too. Sometimes simple ways are the best.
Soon, I could tell by the smell that we were approaching cow country. They have the world’s friendliest cows in Upstate New York, and you have to drive slowly because they like to try and lick you. I saw a few cows sitting in a circle in a field. I think they were having a union meeting to demand higher wages or more vacation time. I wondered what cows did on their day off.
Along the way, the amazing sights continued. I saw a vegetable stand that sold only fruit and a trolley that didn’t go anyplace. It only sold ice cream. I saw an antiques shop with a sign that said “Antiques – Old and New.” I noticed that every town had at least one Dollar Store, a Dunkin’ Donuts and a Subway. I saw Sasquatch order a $5 Value Meal at one.
I learned lots of things, too. I learned that fire wood costs from $4 to $6 a bundle, the Punkin’ Chunkin’ Festival is scheduled for October 20th, and they have something called “XXX Cheese,” though I shudder to think what X-rated cheese is all about.
I saw the house with the giant-size binoculars that people use to look at the windmill farm across the water. I guess farmers have to do this because it is dangerous to stand too close to the blades. Still, I wondered how they knew when they were ripe and ready for harvest, and where the got the seeds to plant them in the first place.
As we traveled along a stretch of road called “The Seaway Trail,” I began to wonder why there was no trace of the sea. Then I began to wonder why I thought about signs so much. Then I began to wonder why I thought about thinking so much. After that, my wife made me shut up – but I was able to squeeze in one last thought: it dawned on me that all roads lead to the same place. You can get wherever you want from anyplace at all. That means that we are connected, everyone of us. We are all connected in this world. I think we need to start behaving this way. Maybe then we will start treating each other better.
We traveled north well over an hour, winding up in a scenic town called Clayton, established in 1827, or so they say. Clayton is home to lots of friendly people who like to dress like they were born when the town first opened for business. It is also the home to lots of hungry, unemployed birds who are distraught because the government has been shut down.
Many of these birds have defected to Canada; but being undernourished they have a poor sense of direction and get lost easily. They may wind up in your town soon, so wear a hat when you go outside.
One last tip before I go: If you decide to visit one of the fine eating establishments in Clayton – and you have your chocolate macaroon dessert outside to enjoy the fresh air – please note that the bees have a tendency to swarm this time of year.
Enjoy life’s adventures: SMILE!