Friday, August 03, 2007

Congratulations! You've Won the Lottery

You: “Holy garbanzo beans, batman! I've just won $1,000,000 in the lottery!!!”

Friend: “Congratulations!” slapping you on the back and looking over your shoulder at the enormous check, “That's great! Fantastic... wonderful. Did you know that they did a study that showed persons who win the lottery are on average less happy than persons who don't?”

The little green monster of envy or the yellow quivering imp of fear feed many reactions to the news that a friend or family member is cutting the lines and going on an extended cruise. While the initial reaction is excitement on your behalf, happiness and admiration of your intrepid boldness and daring, once the news settles in you will find that most of your peers and loved ones can't help themselves.

“I think you're a bit insane. It's exciting but let's face it, you're insane,” explains your drinking buddy. I think that girl you're dating is insane, too, but I have better manners than to tell you she made pass at my husband and carries drill bits in her purse.

“What are you going to do with the children?” Oh I don't know, Mom. How about I leave them here with you?

“Did you hear about the catamaran that washed up on the coast this week?” informs a friendly helpful client. I watch the boating news. And yes, three people died and it was a tragedy. Your point?

“We can't let you participate in the after school activities... we've had bad experience with homeschooled children,” says your child's former teacher. Wow! Could you define bad experience? Medical? Psychological? Criminal?

But I choose to think that if you dig past the words, what we often witness is a syndrome similar to Lottery Envy -- the compulsive need to talk yourself into believing that someone who wins the lottery is really miserable. And it does no good to be cross with normal, land-based family and friends. Their feelings are legitimate, whether generated by genuine concern or merely their inner child in a fit of toddler temper.

By taking our passions, our needs, our excitement and making it so visible – so absolutely out there for the world to see – we thrust our chins in the face of normality and metaphorically belt out, “SEE! ‘Just do it’ is not just a slogan to sell Nike's!” It's not very nice. It's a lot like doing hands-free cherry drops on the monkey bars while chanting, “I can do it and you're a scaredy cat, nyah nyah na nyah na na!” We never really leave the elementary school playground.

Remember, your family has a right to worry about you. Our parents have the right to question our sanity and to fret over the safety of their grandchildren. Our colleagues have good cause for concern when our absence changes their working lives, the pattern of their days, and the stability of their company. It is perfectly reasonable for those with unrealized dreams to express their frustration in ways that do not help.

So you need to develop a strategy and armor for getting through the inevitable wave of stupid questions, concerned inquiries and familial resistance. If you're a parent, this process is quite similar to what you do when people provide helpful tips on how to raise your children. It combines diplomacy, tact, a thick skin, and a sick sense of humor. When people asked me why my 3rd child never learned how to crawl, I explained that we were remodeling the kitchen and the floor was covered with bent, rusty nails and broken glass and she was afraid to do so. Rather stops the conversation since no one quite knows whether or not to believe you.

My recommendation to fellow cruisers is to make a t-shirt that answers all the friendly, pointed questions simultaneously. On the front, the shirt might advertise: So you want to know about our boat trip? And on the back it might say something like this:

  • 1 + N Years
  • Take them with us
  • Homeschool
  • They'll make new friends
  • South
  • 38 foot catamaran
  • Renting the house
  • Selling the business
  • We weren't sane to begin with
  • 1 comment:

    Behan said...

    ROTFLMAO! *wipes tears*

    yes, I think we need to make our version of this shirt!!

    Oh, don't forget the "but what about the pirates" question. Or one of my personal faves (NOT)- "what about the WASL?".