Nasturtium, 2011
"It was drilled into me that anything less than winning was failure. In the impressionable way of sons, I did not consider this rhetorically; I took him at his word... when I noticed that this deity who asked only for perfection was himself less than perfect... I wasn't able to shrug it off. I was consumed instead by a blinding rage. The revelation that he was merely human, and frightfully so, was beyond my power to forgive."

Jon Krakauer
Into the Wild

This passage of Jon Krakauer's made little, if any, impression on me when I originally read his chronicle of a young man's foray into the Alaska wilderness that resulted in his death. But when I happened upon it again as I was thumbing through a few weeks ago, it stayed with me.

Hollyhock, June 2011
As a child of parents who instilled the values of hard work, education and more hard work in me at a young age, I have struggled with similar resentments and feelings of inadequacy at different points in my life. When I wailed "This is boring!" they reminded me that I chose to view whatever it was as boring, and instead of expecting my surroundings to fully nourish me with no effort on my part, I should see the potential in my surroundings.

In the moment, the speeches that my parents referred to as constructive criticism seemed more like nagging diatribe. But as I move somewhat less than gracefully through my midlife, I now understand how my parents expected a lot of me because they cared. I can even see how they were often correct, and realize that, yes, our situations are largely what we make of them. The past few years have been tough. But through those times I managed to realize how lucky I am in many ways. Most people who have the floor drop out from under them professionally don't have the family support structure I do, although I know that some people do choose not to turn to their families for support.

I've also realized that no matter how far I fall, I still have something to give, and there is always someone in greater need than I am. For me right now, that means donating my time, rather than money, but time is a precious commodity and cannot be regained once it passes.

Speaking of time, next week I will be spending it with my family on a cruise ship. My sister and her husband will be renewing their wedding vows. Internet access on the ship is extremely expensive, so I will be leaving the virtual world behind for a week and a half. I think it will be good for me. I hope that all my friends, online and in-person, have the opportunity to spend real time with those they care about the most.

Note: photos in this entry were taken with my new camera, a Samsung HZ30W. My boyfriend gave it to me when I lost my trusty Canon PowerShot. A few weeks after receiving the new camera, I was cleaning my closet, and felt something hard under a pile of t-shirts. It was my Canon. Go figure.