Over the holidays when I was visiting family, a memory came to mind and because I’ve pondered it often and because I was there, I brought it up again.
Mom, do you remember who it was that called me a ne’er-do-well?
She thought about it for a bit but couldn’t recall definitively. About three years ago, my mother and some fellow (from her generation) were having a conversation and when the subject of yours truly came up, this happened:
Fellow: Has he always been a ne’er-do-well?
Mom: That’s my son you’re talking about!
Awwwwwwww. Ne’er-do-well: the temperament only a mother could love.
We had good laughs about it over the holidays. I enjoy making people laugh, even at my expense. Often at my expense. Of course, that’s easy to do, being me. I provide ample material which would lead one to the natural conclusion that I am, in fact, out in left field picking dandelions. I enjoy making people laugh. In most instances. Laughter is a good thing. Happiness is a good thing.
When Zachary was visiting last summer, we were over at Ginger’s one night and at some point in the conversation, I made my way over to some bizarre tangent or said something completely obscure or, more likely, mixed metaphors or analogies as I’m prone to do. The kind of laughter where you have trouble breathing ensued. Ginger turned to Zach and asked him, “You see what you’re missing?”
Oh, laughter. You’re funny!
Back to the topic at hand, though. I really don’t believe nor have I ever believed that I’m a ne’er-do-well. I think I’m more of a sometimes-do-well. And with a great deal of modesty, I’ll even venture to say that I’m sometimes a sometimes-do-very-well. Though I do meander. I do wander into things, look at the pretty objects set all about for a bit and then kind of float away to somewhere else, forgetting all about what I was doing there in the first place.
I think it’s the fact that I’ve never really stabilized into one thing that draws the term ne’er-do-well.
A lot of my friends seem to be amused or entertained by my life. I hear “inspired” from time to time. Parts of my life have been good for others, anyway. Not all of it. Certainly not all of it. So really, if I were to stick a name to myself it would be sometimes-do-well, and not ne’er-do-well. Because, to me, the only thing that would be worth doing well would be making people feel good. Bringing joy and happiness to life. And I do that sometimes.
Seek and Ye Shall Find
As I’m beginning to prepare for this upcoming adventure, I’m cleaning my house. I want to make sure that I embark on this next stage of life with a clear mind. I’m not seeking out anything in life in particular anymore. I would love to fall in love. That would be nice. But I’m pretty solid on everything else. I know who I am, from where I came, and comfortable enough with those two things to adapt to wherever I go. So there’s nothing I’m really seeking. I don’t have all of life’s answers, but I have enough to live a happy and peaceful life, I do believe. (Love would still really be icing on the cake, though.)
I did crack open a fortune cookie, however, the other night and as I did so I realized that I always do that. And I always read the fortune thinking that maybe, just maybe, there’s a magic answer in there. That night, I got this:
Oh really? Well, screw you, fortune cookie! Why the hell do you think I cracked you open in the first place?! To see if I could find my house keys?! No! YOU’RE supposed to have the answers for me! You’re not supposed to make me go look somewhere else! Stupid fortune cookie.
I don’t feel badly, feeling the way I did about my “fortune.” After decades of looking for answers inside fortune cookies, it just seemed a little uncool of the cookie to come out and tell me that it, in fact, doesn’t have the answers for me. I mean, that’s how I understood it at least. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe that was the answer I was looking for. Maybe Costa Rica is where I’m supposed to go. Who knows? Hopefully, the next time I order Chinese, all will be made clear in the cookie.
Then today, in a somewhat related incident, I bought a box of Frankenberry Cereal, seeing it on the shelves for the first time in decades (alongside some Count Chocula and Booberry cereal). And I bought it specifically to see if I could be filled with all of the wonderment of childhood just from eating it. As a kid, it was one of my favorite cereals. Unfortunately, the only thing I got filled with was 1) a complete sense of loserdom as I stood there in the checkout lane, 43 years old, with Frankenberries in my hand and then later, 2) disappointment that the box didn’t consist solely of those tasty little assembly-line strawberry marshmallows. Marshmallows that are pretty close to awesome once they’ve sat in a bowl of milk long enough to undergo the chemical transformation necessary to produce that perfect texture of squishiness the true connoisseur of kids breakfast cereals knows so well. Because if I was going to eat that crap, at least let me enjoy it.
I did not enjoy it. And something went horribly wrong on the assembly line.
My point (yes, I did have one… it’s kind of back in the middle there) is that I’m not really seeking anything. When I read the fortune cookie, I asked myself if there’s really anything at all that I’m seeking. Same for when I was standing in line with the cereal. Is there really anything that I’m seeking? While neither the fortune cookie nor the box of cereal held any truth for me, they both held the metaphor of truth: that everything I seek is inside.
I can’t believe I just wrote that. I mean, I know cliché and predictability are my strong/weak suits, but seriously, that’s just awful. I should slap a photo of a sunrise behind that, type it up in some scripty font and post it to Facebook. I changed my mind: I seek better writing skills.
Seriously, though, this next step for me has absolutely nothing to do with searching for anything. It’s just something new.
I’ve been getting this question a lot: “What are you going to do there?”
I have no solid plan yet for when I arrive in Costa Rica. A friend of mine came over a few nights ago and we had this conversation:
“OK. Take me through day one.”
“Um, I get off the plane, catch the bus to the town where I’m staying, get settled. Go watch the sunset, definitely.”
“OK, then what about the next day? I’m just so curious about how someone can uproot their life!”
I have ideas about what I want to do in Costa Rica. Notions. But I really won’t know anything until I arrive. Right now, I just simply don’t see leaving there. It seems like a good place to establish a home base. Photography? Yeah, I expect so. But I can’t predict the future in this case. I have no frame of reference here. Everything is new. I’m certain it will be worthwhile, though.
I know that to some people, I will forever be seen as a ne’er-do-well. Certainly buying boxes of children’s cereal and writing about it isn’t helping my case, I know. But you know what?
Well, I don’t really have a comeback to my own statement. But sometimes, sometimes I am a sometimes-do-well.
Feel free to post this graphic to Facebook. I decided to go with this flowers photo instead of a sunrise. It matches the pink of the Frankenberries wonderfully. Double inspiration!!!