Watching the final episode of Survivor and Reunion Show last night while batching up a Hoffman order, I was struck by several comments that players made about the primal nature of their experience. Becky, a lawyer, commented that when she’d first arrived on the island, she’d spent most of her time asking other players what time they thought it was. Her life was so defined by her watch and schedule that she had a hard time letting go of that structure. Ozzie pointed out what a primal experience just focussing on survival had been. He was right that only a few thousand years ago, even a few hundred years ago, most of us spent a good part of each day just trying to survive.
In our climate controlled, consumer driven North American society, as the mad rush of last shopping days until Christmas whirls around us, it is very hard to remember that there are corners of our planet and even our cities where the struggle to survive still rages on.
I read the girls one of our Christmas books before bed, about Laura and Mary Ingalls in the Little House on the Prairie. It was about the year that Santa couldn’t cross the rain swollen creek but Mr. Edwards still managed to deliver presents on Santa’s behalf. My kids were entranced by the story, but a little baffled at the joy Laura and Mary felt at receiving a tin cup, a stick of candy, a little baked cake and a shiny penny each. When I explained that people didn’t have as many things back then or as much money, Erin got very thoughtful but Bethany was still baffled at the lack of toys. It is amazing how much STUFF our children end up to play with that gets thrown in drawers or cupboards because they get BORED... I wonder if they ever realize how lucky they truly are to have that problem!
We got through the Christmas pageant, Erin’s solo in church, the two Christmas parties this weekend... all of which were joyful and wonderful and totally draining. I came home and just crashed for an hour’s nap after which I felt human again, but Nick and I are still feeling very drained. Everyone is just counting the days until the break...although I think much of my countdown still has to do with when I get my main computer back.
Would I ever be able to unplug completely? Like Ozzie, I think I carry a lot of skills that would certainly enable me to survive if thrown into a challenge like that (for real not for the cameras). I can cook well, swim well, sew, make things, invent stories, build good fires, weave, lash things together thanks to many summers of guide camp or fort building and I know quite a bit about First Aid. Would I choose to live like that instead of in comfort? I guess that depends on the day. While I can’t see anyone on this planet truly choosing cold and hardship over a comfy bed, regular meals, indoor plumbing and chocolate, there is that little voice inside most of us that longs for something simpler than the mad race to collect stuff, earn money, get to appointments, stay thin, be successful etc. These past few weeks with a wonky computer have taught me to go with the flow more instead of trying to control everything and plan it out. It has made me look more closely at the vulnerability of what I have chosen to do as a career and considering a back-up plan, especially as Bethany starts Grade 3 next year and has a longer school day.
This morning, things have been turned on their head yet again. Nick took the van in early to fix the damage from a little mishap in the parking lot of the video store two weeks ago and Bethany went up to the bus stop with a neighbour because Erin woke up and started being violently sick to her stomach. The flu / Norwalk virus has been going through schools in the area and has hit quite a few families that we know. I don’t know if this is what she has yet (because she’s been fighting more of a cold and cough) but it was instant quarantine to her room and LOTS of hand washing for me. I don’t handle barfies well and am very prone to rapid dehydration myself... so I am going to be VERY, VERY careful.
As I look about this week and think of all the ways in which I am NOT fighting for survival on a daily basis, I will remember to be thankful.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM!!!