by hamza al haidari
It is Wednesday. I am dressed in my usual casual khakis and black polo. My socks do not match because I got up a bit too early and dressed in the dark (I wouldn’t want to wake up my dog, Humus), but besides the mismatch I look pretty sharp. I attempt breakfast, but settle instead on the giant jar of cheese balls I bought from Safeway last week.
After 5 minutes of eating handfuls of these cheese balls, stuffing my mouth with half a dozen of them at a time, I begin to wonder, “Darn, how are these so good, yet so bad for you?” and “Maybe I should create the first very healthy cheese balls, that taste exactly like this, but also help bring down your blood pressure and aide you in losing weight.” I often have wild thoughts like these in times of need, such as when I’m stuck in traffic and start thinking about how I’d invent a jet car that can fly without making a noise. You know, save-the-world kind of ideas.
The Early Signs of a Battle
I get to work, settling in for the usual problem solving, lecturing, and a few personal (and secretive) meltdowns. It is now 11:50 am – my Wilderness Survival class is starting. My students come in, taking seats around the room wherever they please. I start the lecture with my joke of the day, a corny tradition I don’t even know how I adopted and I certainly now regret. I am too far into the game, and can’t stop. The joke for today is: “How many tickles does it take to make an octopus laugh?” Answer- “Tentacles.” The joke receives few smiles and a handful of heads shake in disappointment–nothing new to me.
The Battle Begins
I start the lecture. Today’s subject is tourniquets. I’ve written the word many, many times in my life due to the nature of my job. However, for some odd reason and without fail, whenever I am in front of my class I forget how to spell the word. My back is to the room, my hand shaking as I brace my marker against the white board. Here I am, muttering “t-t-t-ur…” You know how this goes. A drip of sweat is born, making its way down my spine. I am about to lose all credibility among my students, and I start wondering why the heck I quit my job as a lifeguard in Santa Cruz.
A nice breeze comes in through the window, carrying with it beautiful and much needed air. To my surprise the breeze tells me the correct spelling. I spell it out, get it right, and I carry on with the lecture. It was a very small victory for me that day, but that small victory restored my confidence in myself, and my ability to teach. Sometimes, a small victory like this is all we need to move forward.
Your Personal Flavors in Life
To all my friends, and everyone out there who thinks that I have it “together,” I want to let you know that I really don’t. I still sound out Wed-nes-day, Feb-ru-ary, and nearly melt as I try to spell tourniquet. Those are the easiest of my problems – I haven’t even started on my health, finances, how far I am from my goals, and many more. I pretend that I have it together, and will continue until hopefully one day – I actually do. Believe in yourself, look for the breeze, rock those mismatching socks, and tell your corny jokes. These are the spices you bring to your life, and without those spices, there will be no flavors. And who wants to live with no flavors? I sure don’t. Do you?