To Zig or to Zag?
“He zigged when he should have zagged,” Papa used to say of the mythical Peter, in an effort to get me to sit still as he maneuvered the clippers around my head, shaving it as bald as he could get it. When I asked him what happened to Peter when he zigged, Papa made a slashing motion with his hand across his neck.
The message was clear: Peter lost his head when he couldn’t follow directions, and zigged. In other words paying attention prevents one from having to look back with regret. Being a “seize the day” kind of guy and having always refused to indulge in the dish called “regret,” I zig and I zag my way through life and steadfastly refuse to give into the concept of, “What if?”
|San Jose State University|
For instance, what if we had stayed in San Jose, back in the winter of 1982, when Gluten-Free Mama and I found out that we were expecting HeadSodBuster to make his debut the following September? After all, when we relocated up here to the mountain, on the last day of May, we moved into a 16 x 20, windowless, powerless, running-waterless cabin, an uncivilized world under the best of circumstances and an unmitigated disaster, if you are expecting your first child only fifteen weeks down the line.
We could have stayed down in San Jose, I could have remained employed at United Auto Stores, and I would have finished my masters program in English, at San Jose State. Gluten-Free Mama would have had the support of her mama, who was welcoming her first grandchild into the world, and the longer we stayed down there, the less likely it is that we would ever have been able to pull up stakes and make the move.
Now that there is some scary stuff. Our original motivation for making the move was the desire to not raise our kids on the streets of an urban setting, especially when some areas of that urban existence are considerably rougher than others.
Rough up here in the northland was more about not having a shower or bathtub until three weeks AFTER the baby was born, four-and-a-half months after moving up in the first place. Rough is having to make an hour-long commute just to pick up milk and eggs, not to mention a newspaper or a pound of coffee. Finally, rough is still having to heat up water on the stove, in order to give the baby a bath, or having a freezer in your old Servel refrigerator, the size of a shoebox.
OK, that was an easy one because it all worked out, but what about some of the things that did not work out so well, like deciding to help Papa with his patch, and ending up getting CAMPed on in July of 1985, facing the forfeiture of our home and twenty acres, all for 33 cannabis plants?
Yes, for nine months to the day we were under the gun, a time period which saw SmallBoy make his appearance on the scene. However, out of the ashes arose the closer connection with our community, the support for us in our time of need, and my subsequent decision to help out our little school here on the mountain, by getting a teaching credential.
Or how about taking my Spanish elective out to play pick-up basketball, on Friday, December 13th, 1991, and blowing out my left knee? Do I regret that? No, because to regret something as innocuous as this, is to spend your life tip-toeing along, afraid to smell the roses for fear you will prick your nose on the thorns.
Besides, if I were going to regret any element of this sad chapter, it would be that I did not continue to play catch with the boys, which I could have done by simply sitting down in a lawn chair, and instructing them that accuracy is an important component in baseball. This would have been achieved every time one of them threw the ball past me, and had to chase it because I sure wouldn’t have.
Rather than regretting it though, I have resolved to compensate for this dereliction of duty when grandchildren arrive, both boys and girls. Though I can walk up to Blue Rock at the drop of a dime, I still cannot play sports because the doctor said he could only do the knee surgery once. Having taken a tendon out of my leg somewhere, to replace the anterior cruciate ligament in my left knee, he said it was a one-time deal.
To live life by second-guessing what might have been a better course of action, instead of making the best out of what you have, is counter-productive, and I won’t do it.
Of course, I have a few things working in my favor, such as cannabis over alcohol, monogamy over the alternative, and no interest in betting the farm on the latest game, so that helps. I remember GF Mama setting up the boundaries when we first hooked up; there were only two rules.
If I ever hit her or cheated on her, she was out of there with no second chance. Hitting a woman is as foreign to me as jumping out of an airplane, with or without a parachute. And as she put it on the same occasion, cheating on her might give me a different dish, but it would be no better.
I would not change one thing because there are no guarantees that by altering the one course, I wouldn't set into motion, events which then change something else, down the line, something far more important.
Love is the greatest power and the one which has directed my life, and what is there to regret about that?