Adventure #2: Man v. Disappointment

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Some days just seem destined not to work out the way you planned. This is ok, the universe can be a little random sometimes and rarely does the word “plan” give a solid defense of its own definition. I’m starting to learn the first rule to being happy: learn to roll with the punches.

As I said in my sidenote earlier today, the initial expedition had to be cancelled due to a powerful dose of the human element. I have to stand by my decision to NOT go traipsing off into the mountainous wilderness all by myself without so much as a pellet gun to have my back. Getting trapped or injured at the bottom of a cliff, or running into a “Deliverance” character doppelganger when I’m by myself are not among my ideas of a good adventure (though I’m sure both experiences would have a profound impact on ones psyche).

So I set to finding an alternative undertaking. The day is sunny and tranquil, perfect for getting outdoors, so there is my primary focus; find something outside. I make a quick scan of the trusty interweb to see what there is to see out there. After consulting and offering my sacrifices to the Google God, he eventually ushers me into the Port of Everett website and the phrase “Jetty Island” immediately leaps out at me from the page.

The Island of Jetty

Jetty Island, how could I have forgotten you? You wonderful little strip of sediment, you tide-pool riddled two-mile beauty! Warm memories of toes in the sand, playing with little crabs, looking or starfish and exploring secret trails run a slow parade in my mind’s eye. My adventure has been found and it shall be glorious!

I scan the entire Jetty Island info page. Free parking Monday through Thursday? Sweet, let’s do this.

I grab my shades, a water bottle, and some sandals; I blow the popsicle stand and take off in the trusty 4-cylinder. The spirits are high, the gas tank is mid, the Fleetwood Mac is on full blast; oh yes, you make lovin’ fun.

I spin my way down West Marine View Drive, windows down and admiring the scenic waterfront; waterside restaurants, lush green parks, ships gliding in and out of port in the orderly fashion of an ant farm.

Spotting the sign for the public boat launch, I hang that left and wind my way through the nearly nonsensical series of white and yellow lines designed to guide vehicles through the parking lot without causing a slow motion pileup. To my good luck (or so it seems), the parking lot seems mostly barren today so I cruise on up to the front row and shut down the engine.

Looking around I can’t seem to spot the actual ferry to the island; no matter, I’m not close enough to the water to see it if it’s docked anyway… the place is curiously dead though. I gaze out across the water at the island; it too seems to be curiously dead. I then wander for a moment until I find the kiosk that normally gives ferry passes. If a waterfront area could resemble a graveyard, this would be it as even the kiosk is most certainly dead.

How could it be that on a bright, sunny, mid-70s day, Jetty Island is completely shut down?

I finally spot the small posting on the water side of the little unmanned ferry station in front of me: Jetty Island is CLOSED until July 1st.

Well shit.

That sort of information would be useful on internet as well as at the boat launch I would think.

Yet another possibility laid to rest by strange chance (I call it this because in years past, Jetty Island usually opens up much sooner than this).

I can feel a small spring of annoyance welling up inside me, the usual precursor to me verbally damning fate and whatever other faceless, nameless source I can use as a scapegoat for my current plight.

Immediately I grow defiant. The day is beautiful. I feel great. The salty sea air is invigorating and I can do no less than feel at peace when this close to the ocean.

I decide that some adventures happen on a smaller scale and when the best plans get laid to waste, the real adventure is internal. It’s at this point that we have a choice: to admit defeat, allow anger to be our master and spend precious time hating our shitty luck. Or the other side of that decision, to let go of the disappointment and find the wonder in our immediate surroundings. I have to admit that making the first choice just sometimes seems easier; I’ve walked that path my fair share of times. If you’re going to have an adventure everyday though, you have to anticipate that things won’t always go the way you think they will. If you’re going to have an adventure everyday, you have to learn to not only be content with but excited by the world around you, whether it’s what you had planned for or not.

Instead of dwelling on what did not work out, I breathe in deep the ocean air and take a walk down through the waterfront. I meander through the grass and the trees, the sand and the rocks, the docks and the boats. I read about historic areas of the port, smile at few other explorers I pass near the docks and hang out with the big bronze fisherman who’s permanently stationed at the port until the ocean takes it all back.

I sit in the shade of a tree and relax; I meditate away those little bits of annoyance within me until they dissipate into the atmosphere, too small and inconsequential to be of any harm to anyone.

Sometimes the adventure is a non-adventure. Sometimes learning to enjoy the moment is a great undertaking in and of itself.

Time to be resourceful…

My next adventure stood to be one of legendary proportions, however I have encountered a definite problem. This one involved a serious hike into the wilderness near Granite Falls and it seems that everyone of my hiking companions has bailed on me… some for legitimate reasons, others not so much. Hopefully I can find some replacement(s) to go with me but worst case scenario I will find a replacement adventure.  The point is that hiking alone, while it’s still an adventure, is also incredibly stupid so it is looking like I will likely have to postpone this one.

Setbacks such as these are bound to happen, I cannot let it dampen my spirits! Now is the time for me to “Macgyver” something up and find myself a different exploit in which to partake. Never fear! I will go some place interesting and meet someone new; this is my pledge. The time is now to meditate on my next move and embrace it like a reunited lover!

Adventure # 1: The Bronze Soul

Today was a big day. Everyday is a big day from here on out, but today in particular was of a slightly larger scale for me personally. Today was the day I take that first big step into the abyss. The first step is always the hardest, one of many cliches I’ve found to hold true in my life.

It’s time to adventure, time to take that journey… but where? That has been the biggest hurdle plaguing me at the inception of my great life’s expedition: if one must embark on an exploit everyday of his/her life, where does one venture to? It never hurts to start small so I decided to take a look in my own backyard.

I had recently heard about a new art museum opening up not far from where I live. An art museum in Everett? I suppose anything is possible and this was something I had to see.

I took off down the fractured sidewalk of Hoyt Avenue and took in the sights and sounds. It’s kind of a sad part of town but it has it’s own beauty, sort of a weathered quality, like an above water human version of a coral reef; all the fish, big and small, poking their noses out of the windows and openings in the buildings just to update themselves on the goings on. The buildings are mostly made of old concrete and brick with moss and ivy growing in every crevice at every opportunity.

I can see a small crowd gathered outside the Salvation Army building. Two women are arguing with one another, yelling so loud that everyone can hear them yet no one has a clue what they’re yelling about. Several elderly shuffle down the steps of the public library, quickly heading off in the opposite direction.

I’m momentarily caught up in my surroundings when a mechanical voice says “walk”. What technological  advancements we have nowadays, the crosswalk is speaking to me.

I jaunt to the other side and I soon notice a stone egg adorned with a lightning bolt, my signal that I have finally arrived at the Schack Art Center.

Upon entering it is evident that I’ve come on the wrong day if I were only just a patron of the arts. They are halfway through setting up what appears to be a sculpture exhibit; this is perfect for me. The real adventure isn’t JUST in examining the artwork but in meeting those who make it happen.

I head to the counter, stick out my hand and introduce myself.

“Hi Michelle, I’m Tyler”

Michelle shakes my hand and, after realizing her name tag is how I knew her, puts on her finest customer service face and asks, “How can I help you?”

“Well I’ve never been here before, what do you guys have going on today?”

Michelle adopts an apologetic tone, “Sorry but you sort of came on the wrong day. As you can see we’re setting up for our next exhibit.”

“Well that’s ok, any chance of meeting the artist? Or at least snapping a few pictures with the ol’ smart phone here?”

Michelle leans around the corner, “hey Kevin, do you mind if someone takes pictures?”

A muffled reply and then I’m welcomed into the Schack Center with open arms.

I quickly meet Kevin Pettelle, bronze sculptor extraordinaire. He’s a medium height gentleman, a patch of grey hair lining the outer edge of his head. He’s got a quick handshake and an easy smile, a friendly person eager to make acquaintance. I ask him about the exhibit. He tells me about the work he does, how long he’s been doing it and a little about the inspiration behind his work.

Kevin was born in Seattle and has since made the Pacific Northwest home base. He tells me he’s been sculpting bronze since 1980, a very established artist in his field to say the least. Way back in 1987 he partnered with his father and brother to establish the NW Artworks Bronze Casting Service and he now runs his own studio called Soul in Bronze Studio; I highly suggest checking it out. From speaking with him and examining his work it becomes apparent to me that Kevin finds a great deal of his inspiration in the human form, a most inspiring object indeed.

Ah the human visage in all its glory and splendor. So capable of invoking a nearly unending multitude of feelings and reactions; it bends and twists, it gets fat and then skinny and then fat again, it demands, it gives, it flatters and it insults. All of this is evident in Kevin’s work, he truly is a master of his craft.

Upon exploring the rest of the art center I come to realize that this is not just a place for artists to display and sell their pieces but a teaching ground for artists new to their craft. I walk down the hallway lined with student work, admiring the guts and the glory of it all. I peer into the currently empty classrooms where hopeful amateurs have spent hours honing their skills.

At the end of the hallway I notice a pleasant surprise; a few lovely pieces from a friend in the graphic arts program at Everett Community College. I’m very interested in delving the depths of Tara’s brain to find out what inspires her interesting brand of graphic art; that will be it’s own adventure for another day.

We’re Going on a Trip!


Greetings to all the thrill seekers, life livers, trailblazing adventurers… the danger intrigued, the balefully bored, the jaunting journeymen, the frustrated cubicle dwellers, the determined net surfers, the haplessly hopeless… those who exist on an epic scale and those who just simply exist.

I am just like all of you and nothing like any of you. I have left behind some of you, I empathize with most of you and I am intent on being like a few of you.

Until very recently my life consisted of a clean shave, short hair, shiny shoes and a tie; a distressingly tidy, dull 2″x3.5″ piece of paper with my name right on it. I sold stuff and apparently did it well enough to at least warrant  my own little card, fully equipped with name, number and that lovely email address.

Yep.

Living the dream, or someones dream at least.

The problem for me was that the dream started to darken, it started to blur around the edges until eventually the dream just made no sense anymore. I was ridiculously unhappy and had been for longer than I would admit; I could  no longer hide it from myself. When the opportunity came, when the office water cooler had clearly been poisoned, I strode directly out those faulty automatic doors and  looked back only long enough to laugh at and bid farewell to my own complacency.

Since that day it’s been an emotional rollercoaster of rediscovery. Since that day I have come to several realizations:

  • John Lennon had it right when asked what he wanted to be when he grew up: “happy”.
  • I am insatiably curious about the world around me.
  • I am just as curious about the world beyond my horizon.
  • I am capable of loving someone more deeply than I imagined.
  • I want to meet everyone.
  • I want to see everything.
  • I love the shit out of my family.
  • I still don’t like mayonnaise. Or miracle whip.

These things have led me to make a decision. I need to live and I don’t mean just being alive. Any jerk can exist, can take up space and air. My mind needs to find its core, to soak up all the wisdom it can. The best way for me to accomplish this is to see as much as I can, meet as many people as I can, experience as many adventures as I can. The following will be an ongoing account of my attempt to engineer at least one adventure for myself everyday for, well, as long as I can pull it off. This is The Better Adventure: A Journey to Getting Your Mind Right.