Sometimes, my brilliant ideas look pretty stupid when I am facing the mess of it.
My latest one was yesterday as I was avoiding any writing. In fact, I was completely discouraged and ready to give up on the whole book. There’s no new inspiration here. It’s all old stuff that I’m not even interested in. I was staring at a blank screen.
Then Ben came in to my room suggesting “Hey, can we go in the hot tub now?”
I was eager for anything to divert me from what I not doing. “Yeah, let’s go in now.”
We made a very quick dash outside, to get to the tub enclosure in our bathing suits. “Boy, that’s cold. I think it’s almost freezing.” After the sharp cold, the heat of the water felt great. We were both starting to relax and enjoy the heat.
I was reflecting on how some contrast is nice. After cold, heat was wonderful. After busyness, some relaxation is heavenly. Such contrast must have inspired my stupid, brilliant idea.
“Ben, I dare you to go jump in the creek.” I didn’t really expect he would do this, but I thought it would be fun to prod him. It was a frosty, swampy sixty yards to the creek, and it became even frostier and swampier as I looked at it. It was filled with muck and occasional brambles. Then the fun really ramps up with a bank of pure mud, before landing in a frigid stream of about 2 to 3 feet deep.
I should have known better than to prod an impetuous 15 year old. He countered immediately with “I’ll do it for five bucks.”
Then he took a moment to actually look at the swamp and think about it. “That should really be worth ten bucks.”
“Hey, you said you would do it for five!”
I felt both some relief and curiosity as he was obviously reconsidering. Then suddenly “Okay, I’ll do it for five,” and off he went without further hesitation.
I watched with both concern and excitement as he picked his bare feet down the slope and across the mucky swamp. Good! He’s past the worst of the bramble bushes. Then, he suddenly jumped straight in the creek and popped up about 8 feet downstream.
“Yay! Well done!” I clapped as he emerged from the swamp. He was muddy and shivering, but grinning from ear to ear. I helped him wash off with warm water from the tub before he climbed back into the clean warmth.
He was just settling in when he threw back the gauntlet. “Do you want to get your five dollars back?”
Suddenly, my head throbbed. OMIGOD! I had never before had such an immediate, pounding headache. My gut wrenched. My mind and body were revolting against the idea.
Yet, some lighter voice within tickled … He just did it smiling.
But the brambles – No way!
The free spirit within cajoled … And he just did it eagerly.
But I’m an adult. 52 years old. I know better. And I’ll probably have a heart attack when I hit the cold water.
The younger voice chirped … And he just did it with hardly a hesitation.
Suddenly, my project manager self came up with a clever, counter offer. “That should be worth a hundred dollars!”
“C’mon, Dad. I did it.”
This was the point where my idea had become the stupidest thing ever. I had to become equally dumb or somehow extra smart to get past this one. Some part of me knew that this headache was a signal that my 52 year old, project manager could not plan this one any more. Indeed, this was just symbolic of all the other resistance I was feeling towards life. I could plan, prepare and pontificate to death later, but some avoided things just needed doing right now.
“Okay, I’ll do it to get my five back.” And off I went.
As I approached the brambles my good old PM was complaining hard. Are you nuts? You came here with bare feet!? That was not part of the deal. However, my feet were quickly numb and I couldn’t feel any barbs, so I forged on.
As I reached the creek, my head was about to burst. It’s not too late. You can still avoid that heart attack!
Unfortunately, it was too late. However, I could regain some composure by making a small pain-reduction plan. I did not employ the reckless “jump-straight-in” style, but the more dignified “sideways-alligator-slide”. At least I thought it would be more prudent, until I had to scrub the extra mud off my body while in the cold stream.
For some reason, I too was smiling as I slimed my body out of the swamp. My headache was completely gone. I did it!
Ben helped me wash off the rest of the mud and weeds.
As I melted into the steaming water, we were both smiling and laughing.
“Let’s do it again,” Ben offered as he pulled a thorn from the bottom of his foot. I checked a small puncture on the side of my foot. With a bit of blood oozing out I replied “No, I think one time is enough excitement for me. But I will still give you the five bucks if you do it again.”
“Naaah. It’s not really about the money. I’m good.”
I now felt completely rejuvenated and free from all the excuses and blocks that I previously took so seriously. “I’m ready to go inside. Thanks, this has been very enlightening.”
Now, I was inspired to write again. Somehow, that stupid idea turned out to be more brilliant than I once expected.
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