Ann Cannon: Avoiding quicksand, hot lava and other life mottos
It's been almost two years since my friends (Doni, Cynthia, Caitlin) and I walked across England.
I was reminded of that epic adventure last week when my husband and I took our dogs for a walk and it started to rain, which made me feel like we were in a novel by Ernest Hemingway. Except that we were in the Avenues. Not in Spain. And we were walking dogs. Not running with the bulls. The gist of our conversation was something like this.
"I hate the rain," I told my husband.
"I know," he said.
"I've always hated the rain," I said.
"That's true," he said.
"But I've especially hated the rain ever since I spent all those days in England walking in it," I said.
"Right," he said.
"Outside," I said.
"Yes. That's where rain usually happens," he said. "Outside."
"Because of the rain we had to trudge through mud all day long. Sometimes that mud even sucked our shoes straight off our feet."
"That mud was like quicksand. Remember quicksand in 'Bonanza' and also 'Gunsmoke'? How it swallowed up people and their horses whole? I was afraid of quicksand when I was a kid because of 'Bonanza' and also 'Gunsmoke.' I spent my entire childhood avoiding quicksand. Also hot lava."
"And after an entire successful lifetime of avoiding quicksand in America, I go to England during a summer of record-breaking rainfall and nearly get swallowed up by quicksand there."
"Life is like that, sometimes. Ironic."
"I've been looking for a new life motto, actually, and that would be a good one," I said. "Life is like that, sometimes. Ironic. We could stitch it on a pillow and put it on a couch. People do that. Stitch mottoes on pillows 'Sisters make the best friends' or 'Nothing is worth more than this day' or 'Don't squat with your spurs on.' And then they put them on couches. My mom has a pillow that says, 'I hope to be the person my dog thinks I am.' "
"I know. I've seen it."
"That's not a bad life motto. Unless, of course, your dog thinks you're stupid. Which reminds me. Why do people think border collies are so smart just because they can catch Frisbees in their mouths? Is catching a Frisbee in your mouth really a sign of superior intelligence? Would you think I was smart if I went around leaping into the air and catching Frisbees in my mouth at Liberty Park all day long?"
"Probably not," my husband said. "Also, I'd worry about your teeth."
"Anyway. Every time we came to a brand new field full of mud, my girlfriends and I would look for another way to get where we were going. But you know what? Sometimes the only way around it was through it. That's what Cynthia would always say."
"The only way around it is through it. Talk about an excellent motto," my husband said.
"A lot of life is like that, right? The only way around adolescence is through it. The only way around the 24-hour flu bug is through it. The only way around childbirth is through it. The only way around the first year on a new job is through it. The only way around certain birthdays is through them. We should stitch that on a pillow and put it on a couch."
"Brilliant!" he said.
We looked at each other.
"Ready to make it through another day?" he asked.
I nodded. "The only way around it is through it."
So we turned a corner and headed back home.
And it was still raining.
Ann Cannon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/anncannontrib.
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