When Moving Mountains Means Moving Nothing At All

By Suzanne Wiggins

As far back as I can remember I’ve been a master of self-sufficiency. For most of my life, I took great pride in this and believed it to be one of my best personal attributes. I have come to realize, however, there is a difference between knowing how to be self-reliant and being driven to live it as a lifestyle. It began innocently enough with a single childhood experience. A small seed that once planted, quickly grew into a life-long presumption that I must do everything for myself.

It all started when I was about 10 years old. We were shopping at Kmart and I fell hard for a $2.00 pair of royal blue sneakers. Imagine if you will, a pair of Converse low tops dyed blue, rubber and all. I had to have them. My mother, who worked hard and was extremely careful with money, was having none of it. She very seriously told me that if I wanted the shoes so bad, I should buy them myself. Being 10, I probably cried a little, but as we walked away I could not resign myself to not having those sneakers. The terms had been set. I knew what had to be done. So with focused determination, I set out to find two dollars.

I’m sure I started where we always did back then, searching the deep, crumb-filled crevasses of the living room furniture. No one really wanted to stick their hand in there so it was usually a good spot for finding spare change when things got desperate. Next, my mother kept a plastic container of pennies in her dresser drawer and that was another good source when my siblings and I were in dire need of financial resources. I’m sure a bit of my sneaker fund was “found” there. Some of it came from my resourcefulness and cheerful disposition. As a kid, I discovered that my parents’ friends, particularly those who stopped by to have a few beers with my dad, seemed to enjoy giving money away. I would sit by smiling cheerfully while the adults told stories and laughed until inevitably someone would reach in their pocket, pull out a quarter and hand it to me. Sometimes the quarters were offered as incentive to go away, but that was fine too since it was all for the cause of my sneakers. Finally, I was not above begging. My siblings were old enough to work so I hit them up and agreed to perform demeaning tasks in exchange for a bit of spare change. It took a while, but I bought those amazing royal blue sneakers and wore them until they were full of holes and eventually fell apart.

Fast forward several decades. I was enjoying a beer with a friend one day after work and he asked why I had never been married. It was definitely not the first time I’d been asked. I smiled sweetly and gave him my pat answer, “because no one has asked me.”  He then made the observation, “well usually when a person wants something they find a way to make it happen.” Whoa, wait a minute. This person barely knew me and certainly had never heard the tale of the blue sneakers. His comment bothered me. It bothered me because I couldn’t stop thinking about it and found myself compelled to explore the idea further.

It took over a year and a lot of introspection, but I finally arrived at the ultimate revelation. I had never married because I didn’t know how to need someone. I slowly realized that my self-sufficiency had kept me from experiencing the joy of depending on someone; not because I needed to be taken care of, but because people want to take care of the ones they love. All those years I had mistakenly viewed depending on someone as a sign of weakness rather than an expression of love and caring. That was a painful discovery to make for someone who had viewed self-sufficiency as a virtue.

Recently,  a co-worker who has had major neck surgery asked for help rearranging her office furniture. Being me, I gladly accepted the task. The desk and credenza needed to be moved to the opposite side of the room so I pushed and pulled over and over until the furniture was all in place. We quickly agreed that the new location wasn’t going to work so back to the other side of the office it went. When I gave the final push and the task was complete I proudly exclaimed, ‘Who needs a man?!” to which my co-worker sincerely replied, “I do.” Those two words hit me like a cold splash of water. There it was again, that subconscious belief that doing it myself was in some way superior to accepting help. And at that moment I realized, the biggest mountain I could ever move would be allowing someone to move it for me.

Waking From My Field of Dreams

By Suzanne Wiggins

I have watched the movie Field of Dreams about a thousand times. I love the way it starts out with a number of seemingly unconnected people and events, all of which are convincingly connected by the end of the movie. And bonus, it involves baseball. They say art imitates life, but on my drive to work this morning I realized that my life has been imitating art in the form of my very own Field of Dreams storyline.

So for those who have seen the movie (and who hasn’t), I’m sure you’ll remember when Ray (Kevin Costner) was having a hissy fit because Shoeless Joe (Ray Liotta) invited Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) into the cornfield. Ray was insistent that he should get to go too because he built the baseball field, it was his corn and he wanted to know what was out there. Shoeless kept repeating, “I think you should stay, Ray,” “Trust me, Ray”, but he was so deep into his tantrum Ray wasn’t able to catch the subtle nuance of Joe’s knowing advice. Suddenly Ray stops and asks “why?” to which Shoeless just smiles and looks back over his shoulder. Ray follows Joe’s line of sight and low and behold there stands a young version of Ray’s deceased father. On a side note, I would have been crying uncontrollably for the past half hour starting when Karin falls off the bleachers, gets a hot dog stuck in her throat, and Doc chooses to cross the foul line which causes him to lose his dream of playing ball yet again. Sniff, sniff.

Well in my version of the story, I’m Ray, the Universe is Shoeless Joe and a person of interest has unknowingly played the part of Terence Mann. It all began a few years back on a Thursday night. I was going about my business and something very unexpected happened, something which significantly changed my life. I spent a lot of time and effort trying to decipher the clues in order to figure out what it all meant and what I should do next. It was an exhausting and uncharted road trip on life’s highway eventually bringing me to the very scene I described above. I’m obstinately arguing with the Universe, certain I know best, trying to follow Terence Mann into the corn. It’s what I want. It’s what I think I deserve. It’s what I feel is fair.

But today, today as I was driving to work I stopped in the midst of my ongoing tantrum and asked the proverbial question ‘why?’  Unlike Ray, I already knew the answer, but I let the Universe say it anyways. The journey was a means to a necessary lesson and the reason I can’t join Terence Mann in the cornfield is because there is something better waiting for me right here where I am. Something I can’t foresee. The very opportunity I have secretly longed for, but never believed could happen.

Damn it. I know the Universe is right. I finally get it. So I’ve decided I am going to stop my whining and start to trust. I am going to trust the timing of my life. I am going to trust that the Universe is on my side and learn to wait without anxiety. I’m going to trust that Pinterest will continue to provide great nuggets of wisdom that will inspire my posts.

If you’re feeling frightened about what comes next, don’t be. Embrace the uncertainty. Allow it to lead you places. Be brave as it challenges you to exercise both your heart and your mind as you create your own path toward happiness; don’t waste time with regret. Spin wildly into your next action. Enjoy the present, each moment, as it comes, because you’ll never get another one quite like it. And if you should ever look up and find yourself lost, simply take a breath and start over. Retrace your steps and go back to the purest place in your heart…where your hope lives. You’ll find your way again.  ~ Everwood