Blind Spots

20 Jul

The Oregon Coast is a magical place. There are sweeping coastlines, beaches with waterfalls, hiking trails with incredible views, and even a place where you can see the remnants of a shipwreck. I feel lucky to live relatively close to it.

beach sunset, manzanita, oregon coast, oregon, coast, coastline, beach, sunset, pacific northwest, PNW

Manzanita – Oregon Coast

I say relatively close because it’s a 70-80 mile drive from where I am. Not exactly a quick jaunt, but definitely something you can decide to do at the last minute. I did exactly that last weekend because it had been so hot my underboob sweat was sweating, and I needed to beat the heat.

I spent the afternoon out there, and decided to hang out and watch the sunset. It was pretty spectacular, but then I had to make the long drive home alone (sorry, mom). Now, I’m not a nervous driver by any means. If I had to describe my driving it would be somewhere between “I’m just trying not to get a ticket” and “I have nothing to live for.”dance like, live like, love like, funny, humor, meme, funny poem

Driving back from the coast at night is not something I particularly enjoy. The roads dwindle down to two lanes, and can be difficult to navigate because of slopes and tight curves. I feel fine managing my own driving, but if you’ve ever driven in the Northwest you know it’s not famous for it’s world-class drivers.

There was a point in my drive when I was intermittently facing cars that were driving in the opposite direction. When it’s pitch black and a 4×4 comes barreling in your direction with headlights that were obviously designed for a search and rescue effort, even a familiar road becomes unfamiliar.

Every time a car would come by I’d memorize the road ahead of me, and then look down at the yellow lines on the road. For a moment I was blinded, but somehow managed to stay on course simply by going on my memory and a bit of gut instinct.

I’ve thought a lot about how that’s a perfect metaphor for life. You plan everything out, you know where you’re going, and somehow darkness falls and you can’t see five feet in front of you. All you can do is grip the metaphorical steering wheel and hope you don’t crash and burn.

School teaches us how to find X if we know Y, and how the Eastern Orthodox Church has roots in the Byzantine Empire, but you don’t get a class on how to survive adulthood. At every high school graduation someone will give a speech about how the graduates have the rest of their lives ahead of them. What they fail to mention is that they’ll need holy water, sorcery and dumb luck to do it.

Jay Rockefeller spitting real talk

Jay Rockefeller spittin’ the truth

Over the course of my life I’ve had trying moments (if 5-year stretches count as moments), but the last couple of years have felt especially difficult. I’ve done my best to take the high road in tough situations, to grow from negative experiences, to forgive people who didn’t deserve it, to experience big life moments alone, to climb out of crippling depression.

And yet, even when my life was full of blind spots, I ended up exactly where I needed to be. Sometimes it was the place I had planned on, and other times it was a completely different, but significantly better, destination. That’s the funny thing about life, you don’t always need to see everything ahead of you; in fact, sometimes it’s better not to.

I don’t know what will happen tomorrow let alone next year. I have a good idea of who I’d like to be and where I’d like to be, but life doesn’t offer any guarantees. All I can do is keep moving forward and trust that if I do encounter a blind spot, I’ll be okay.

31 Responses to “Blind Spots”

  1. calahan 09/14/2015 at 11:12 am #

    Onward and upward, Jen. 🙂

  2. roughwighting 08/07/2015 at 5:52 am #

    Excellent metaphor. I can’t believe it took me this long to discover your blog – Vanessa-Jane led me to you. Nice to meetcha.

  3. Summer Solstice Girl 08/01/2015 at 4:39 am #

    heh, I like your sing like.. dance like… very funny. Good to see you back

  4. silkpurseproductions 07/23/2015 at 3:23 pm #

    You’re right. That is the perfect metaphor for life. Those kinds of drives can be harrowing…just like life. You seem to have a pretty good handle on the road trip ahead.

  5. Psychobabble 07/22/2015 at 11:07 pm #

    …I was just in Manzanita. Like, yesterday. It was beautiful! I don’t think you could pay me to drive back in the dark- it’s sketch enough in daylight.

  6. Smaktakula 07/22/2015 at 10:20 am #

    Love the attitude, Jen–keep it and you can’t fail!
    I have good memories of the Oregon Coast–Gold Beach & Cannon Beach–with my mom as a kid. Also, a couple years ago, I found an awesome darlingtonia (a carnivorous plant) preserve not too far from Prehistoric Gardens (down South).

  7. Melanie 07/21/2015 at 10:25 am #

    You are so wise. I’m happy for you that you are landing in a good place.
    I’m seeing road signs now that are familiar. I was on a road I knew well, but then, in a moment that can only be described as temporary insanity, I turned off on to one quite unknown, with no street lights. It seems like that may not have been a bad choice, but I’m not at the end yet. You’ve given me hope.

    • Jen and Tonic 07/21/2015 at 6:36 pm #

      We don’t always know what we’re doing when we’re doing it. Sometimes we end up in a good place, and sometimes we end up in a not-so-good place, but either way there is a lesson to be learned from it. Keep your wits about you, and I have no doubt you’ll be fine.

      • Melanie 07/22/2015 at 8:56 am #

        Thanks Jen!

  8. The Cutter 07/21/2015 at 6:51 am #

    I don’t recall learning a thing about the Byzantine Empire. I feel cheated.

    • Jen and Tonic 07/21/2015 at 6:37 pm #

      Now you know something about it! I guess I can now list this blog under the “educational” category.

  9. Brigitte 07/20/2015 at 5:10 pm #

    What a wonderful post, Jen. Life can really kick you at times as we all know and when depression shows its darkness, it’s difficult to see any kind of light. I’m glad you have and that you’re able to express your journey through it so beautifully. Doing so gives others hope and when you do that, you’re sparking up some pretty special karma guaranteed to come your way, tenfold.

    • Jen and Tonic 07/21/2015 at 6:39 pm #

      Thanks, B. It is indeed difficult to see light when depression comes and firmly places its hands over your eyes. Luckily, we have friends and family, counselors and our own inner strength to help guide us through the times when we don’t know where we’re going.

  10. rollergiraffe 07/20/2015 at 10:14 am #

    I am quite convinced that we don’t learn this in school because no one really knows how to adult. I’d rather teach my kids about the Byzantine empire than have them emulate me any day of the week.

    I also helps to have other good people on the road with you. To run the assholes off of it. Let’s Mad Max it into the future.

    • Jen and Tonic 07/21/2015 at 6:42 pm #

      That’s actually an excellent point. If they did teach a class on it, our own greatness is limited to the excellence of our teachers. Maybe it’s better to wing it and figure it out on our own.

      Also, you’re an awesome person and your kids will be lucky to pick up some of your qualities here and there as they get older.

  11. Madame Weebles 07/20/2015 at 9:12 am #

    Oh how I’ve missed you. And I’m saving that image with your pearls of wisdom about Dancing like Elaine Benes etc.

    You know whatever happens on the wacky road of bullshit we call life, I will help you through the blind spots, sister.

    • Jen and Tonic 07/21/2015 at 6:43 pm #

      I think I may have been inspired by that inspirational video you sent me. I’m lucky to have you as a friend, Weebs. I’m cashing in some serious karma kredits right now with our friendship. Thank you for always being there! XO.

  12. Carrie Rubin 07/20/2015 at 8:50 am #

    Excellent metaphor for life. Oftentimes, when we finally navigate out of those dark, winding roads that offer little visibility, we look back and say, “How did I even survive that?” But we usually come out stronger. Which is a good thing, because we may find ourselves on that road again in the future…

    • Jen and Tonic 07/21/2015 at 6:54 pm #

      Looking back and wondering how I’ve survived certain situations has happened to me several times. I think trying times help us become stronger so we can handle even tougher stuff down the road. It’s like exercising and building up stamina and muscle so we can run a race.

  13. daniheart21 07/20/2015 at 8:30 am #

    When we are looking in the future or the past we fail to live in the now. Not that we should throw caution to the wind and not plan a thing…. but I kind of like that we end up where we need to be even if it wasn’t part of the plan. 🙂 Have missed you.

    • Jen and Tonic 07/21/2015 at 6:56 pm #

      Living in the now is something I think a lot of people struggle with. So many of us get into survival mode just to overcome certain obstacles, and we don’t know how to settle down and just live. But you’re right, it’s important to really relish the time we have right now.

      I’ve missed you too!

  14. She's a Maineiac 07/20/2015 at 7:09 am #

    You will be more than okay, no doubt.

    Oregon is a gorgeous place to get lost then find your way again. Oh how I miss the Northwest.

    True story: Most of my life I had this recurring dream (nightmare) I am walking along this desolate highway and unable to find my way home. I think it means I need to dance like Elaine Benes more.

    • Jen and Tonic 07/21/2015 at 6:57 pm #

      Yes, if you’re going to get lost, Oregon is a great place to do it. Unless you get lost in the wilderness because then you’re screwed and will most likely die from starvation or hypothermia.

      If you do dance like Elaine Benes, please promise you’ll record it and share it with all of your devotees.

  15. Safe77 07/20/2015 at 6:18 am #

    Love the analogy and metaphor! You’re so right (as usual!), Miss Jen. I often find myself in utter amazement that, despite all of my screw-ups and blind follies, some unseen guiding force always takes me to exactly where I need to be when I need to be there. Call it what you want–guardian angel, supreme being, or just plain dumb luck–but life seems to work out for some, not so much for others. I don’t believe there are chosen and unchosen people. Maybe some of us simply memorize the road a little better before being momentarily blinded, or grip the wheel a bit tighter. Or maybe I’ve simply memorized the route to recovery from all of the many, many dumb mistakes I’ve made. No matter, I’m glad there’s someone like you who sees it, too, and who has the ability to so eloquently express that force and what each of us *really* need to make the journey successful. So glad you’ve been guided back to the blog and us!

    • Jen and Tonic 07/21/2015 at 7:00 pm #

      Maybe we all have internal compasses that, even when we aren’t actively navigating ourselves in the right direction, it’s somehow doing it for us. in the right direction, we are. The human spirit is so resilient, and life is full of so many wonderful possibilities. It would make sense that despite the follies, we’d get to a good place at some point. Maybe that’s all any of us need to know- that we’ll be okay even if we can’t see how that will look right now.

  16. 1jaded1 07/20/2015 at 5:56 am #

    I think my first comment may have gone to spam…anyway love driving at night. A perfect comparison.

    • Jen and Tonic 07/21/2015 at 7:03 pm #

      I looked for a comment in spam, but didn’t see it. Sorry that you commented and it went away. How annoying!

      I love driving at night too. I actually love driving in general. Something about getting behind the wheel and just going anywhere and everywhere makes me feel strangely free.

  17. Elyse 07/20/2015 at 5:41 am #

    A great metaphor. But I am always in it. The roads where I live are all dark and winding, with an SUV around every turn!

  18. Vanessa-Jane Chapman 07/20/2015 at 5:17 am #

    A most excellent post, and really good metaphor. Incidentally, I always find relative scales interesting (I’m not sure “relative scales” is a thing, but I know what I mean!), like here in England, wherever you are, the very furthest you can be from the sea is about 70 miles, so those that live there feel they are a long way from the sea, but in US terms, being 70 miles from the sea is pretty close – there’s probably some metaphor for life in there somewhere too!

    • Jen and Tonic 07/21/2015 at 7:14 pm #

      If relatives scales aren’t a thing you’ve just invented it. And yes, you make an excellent point. When I think about the people in the middle states here in the US, they are DAYS away from the beach. They’d probably categorize me as very close to the beach.

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