I’ve had an “Aha!” moment twice in the past weeks of devil winds whipping Wyoming into a froth.I was trudging against gale-force winds to my car with five large 2- by 3-foot work sketches in my hands, along with the usual coffee, purse and a book. A gust tried to take away the large sketches and, to my amazement, I realized that I was holding fast to the paper. It had simply become normal to hang on tight in a few decades of living in Wyoming.
When the same experience happened again this week when I didn’t lose the cash clutched in my hand as I walked to the car, I realized it had become an ingrained habit to maintain control of my possessions when walking outside in Wyoming.
What a victory for a somewhat klutzy person. I’m the hiker who was sitting on a ledge in Grand Teton National Park with a rather stern climbing instructor when he said, “Whatever you do, don’t drop the carabiner.” I immediately dropped the carabiner about 400 feet to the ledge below.
Years ago, as a Wyoming newbie, I was proudly carrying a newly framed poster of a woman playing the violin on her log cabin porch with the Tetons behind her when wind cruelly lifted the cork board out of my hands and dashed it into the slushy street. I kept the wonderful image for a few months until its sad folds and streaks were just too depressing and I threw it, and the $50 it cost me to frame it, in the trash.
See? You can teach an old dog new tricks. Other new skills I now possess, and no one can take away from me:
-Steer straight, don’t brake. That crusty dad-advice has become second nature and I no longer slam on the brakes. Just to be clear, I do brake, but judiciously.
-Install snow tires, even if it’s already February. Obviously.
-Talk less, smile more. The line from the play “Hamilton” works better for me as I grow wiser. Just like my newfound natural ability to hang on to possessions in the wind, it’s become a habit to not interrupt or try to win arguments. It’s a revelation how often it turns out well to just listen to a person, instead of working on a rebuttal while they talk. My children worked hard to teach me this when they were teenagers.
-Everything will be all right in the end. And if it’s not all right, then it’s not yet the end. The happily optimistic line from the movie “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” has lodged itself in my brain to the point that friends and relatives may be growing tired of it. But this habit of telling myself to chill and look for the next development is one of the best hard-earned lessons learned.
All these new skills have made me safer from wind and road accidents and almost as calm as I always hoped to grow up to be. Now if I could just master the pesky one about knowing your adult children will live long and prosper even if you don’t offer advice. (Unless asked).