July 4, 2001
The Suck Factor! It’s those moments when the descriptive word for everything is “yuck”! It happens to me when I tired, hungry, in an unfamiliar or uncomfortable situation, or discouraged. I guess it’s part of life and can even happen during my dream-come-true trip.
I woke up this morning fully controlled by the negativity of the suck factor. I think it was because of the fudge I had bought at one of the many, many fudge shops on Mackinac island. I ate a big chunk before I went to sleep.
I decided to walk the beach and do some writing. I wondered if this rather long trip would really be worth it. Just when I thought this whole thing was a bust I turned the corner and saw two sailboarders on the water. They were speeding along on the sun jeweled water. They weaved and bounced and I could almost see the smiles on their faces. They were free and joyous. I smiled.
Every year I read the book, Hatchet by Gary Paulsen to my second graders. It is about a boy who was stranded in the Canadian wilderness by himself. Brian, the main character learns to accept his bad luck. He pushes himself to keep going until bad luck turns into good. I have a favorite quote from Hatchet. “He did not know how long it took, but later he looked back on this time of crying in the corner of the dark cave and thought of it as when he learned the most important rule of survival, which was that feeling sorry for yourself didn’t work. It wasn’t just that it was wrong to do, or that it was considered incorrect. It was more than that—it didn’t work.”
My traveling days will ebb and flows just like my life. Sometimes things will be mediocre and other times they will be absolutely exhilarating. I need to keep on going, to ride the high moments and ride out of the low. I am not going to get stuck. My life is not going to suck!
I got asked out on a date today. Jim, the young man in the next campsite, asked me to go with him to see Fourth of July fireworks. He said he would drive me there. First of all, my daughter made me promise not to get in a car or boat with anyone on this trip. Second, Jim was all by himself and appeared be a little overwhelmed by life. My instincts broadcasted a warning , an “uh oh” feeling I had taught my students to always listen to.
The man was a poor soul. I wish, as human beings, we could love everyone and give out help and assistance to all who are in need. But I have learned that I can’t because sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Rescuing isn’t always beneficial. I feel guilty but I couldn’t get over the feeling that if I had gone with Jim there would have been trouble. That night I didn’t sleep in my tent. I slept in my van.