Head Above Water


I was thinking about it a couple months ago, and I wonder if my mom was scared of water. As kids, my sister and I would swim one or two times a summer, if we were lucky. Curry County is rather a water-borne place. Other kids swam upriver (the Rogue River was the only “upriver” that mattered), or at Lobster Creek, or on the very warmest days, in the surf of the Pacific Ocean.

I can’t count the number of times we were told we couldn’t swim, or even go wading, when we wanted to, even if it was insanely hot out. I’ve been reading the remembrances of the other kids who lived in Curry County, on the Facebook group “You Know You’re From Gold Beach if…” and it sounded like most kids swam several times a summer, or maybe even every day (one would think, from their telling) unsupervised by anyone. In the heat of the summer, we’d be picking blackberries on a dusty road, shaded by scrub of an old logging area, maples untouched and a creek bed not far from us. My mother had incredible stamina. She could pick berries for hours. The delayed gratification (jam, and pies, and cobblers-to-come) always moved her, probably because she was older than us. My sister and I had considerably lower attention span to the prickly, finger-purpling task. We’d fill a couple big coffee cans, lined with a plastic produce bag, and be sick of the sweltering Oregon summer heat. Eventually, Lori or I would venture to ask “could we go swimming?” I could almost guarantee my mom would say no. When Mom did say yes, it was almost as if she were doing it out of guilt for telling us no so many other times.

When I was seventeen, my dad was camped way up a fork of the Elk River, high in the Coastal Range of Oregon about fifteen miles from Powers, so he could be closer to a logging job he was working. It was one of the best summers I ever had. I swam nearly every day. Lie in a rubber raft and read novel after novel, just floating up and down a deep stretch of the river, fly-fishing for trout when I grew bored. I don’t think I have ever had a more relaxing summer. I was probably seventeen years old.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize I don’t regret my childhood. I grew up a certain way, with some unhealthy, and some quite healthy family dynamics, but my mother protected me from danger, despite forcing us into brambles to pick wild berries.

Today my head’s under water. I learned, about 30 minutes ago, that the position I’ve held at the US Geological Survey, for the last 3 years, will not be funded past November 30th. I work for the Federal government, therefore, I work for the American people. I’m not too afraid. A dozen options are spread before me.

I’ve recently made a bit of money with my writing. Do I focus entirely on my writing career, as I promised myself I’d do, since December of 2006? I’m a lazy clod. In college, I could never bring myself to take “Independent Study” or “External Option” courses, because I knew, given the chance, I’d procrastinate. My mind isn’t the sort that adjusts easily to a schedule. If I’d rather chat online, or blog, I’d rather do that. I announced on my blog (just yesterday, in fact) that I was turning my mind toward fiction. Can I write something and start, in earnest, the career I’ve always wanted?

I could find another library. This place isn’t the only one near Washington DC. My current post isn’t a perfect fit anyhow. I’d rather be cataloging, or doing metadata management. Still, work with Digital Repositories has made me extremely marketable in an up-and-coming technology area. Everyone seems to be implementing Data Warehouses and Digital Repositories.

I could use this opportunity to (finally) go back to school and get my teaching credential and do teach kindergartners. This is something that’s been hiding in the corners of my heart since my teens.  I was discussing this with a high school friend only yesterday. I’ve felt, for decades, really, that too many young American children are missing male role models and examples in their lives. Of the hundreds (possibly thousands) of men I’ve met in the last 30 years, my friend Henry Zonio is the only I know who shares this passion. It’s a p0ssibility.

It’s all a possibility. A professor of mine once said “God is very capable of closing doors for you. It’s your job to try to walk through it.” I can’t afford to be afraid of drowning. I can’t protect anyone, even myself, if I’m not willing to risk. Yesterday, I was lamenting how much I hate change. Today I’m oddly excited to see that when change has been forced on me, I am not seeing the dead end, but the possibilities.

I’m not just treading water. Unlike 2007, I’m ready to breast-stroke across this river and make a difference. Lord knows that in my sedentary lifestyle, I have developed the breasts for it. Thoughts, anyone? If you have none, I’ll also take checks or credit cards. I could use all of the above.

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9 thoughts on “Head Above Water”

  1. Each door that closes opens up to something on the other side. You have a wonderful outlook on life, I wish I could be that positive in times of strife. It’s very inspiring, thank you!

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  2. I am *extremely* proud of you for your positive outlook, Brian! I, too, am excited for you and for all the possibilities this brings, scary though it may be. Lean on all of us friends for whatever support we can give you and remember: you are loved! That is really the only thing that matters. ❤

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  3. I always wanted to teach as well, and ended up changing my major while at Bethany to make time for the things I enjoyed more than those particular classes. Sometimes I regret it, even now. I think those dreams we have when we’re young never really leave us.
    It’s refreshing to see that you are filled with so much hope, especially so soon after learning about the upcoming forced career change. I can’t say that I have been so positive about learning of mine on Monday. I’ve just had too many jobs now where we lost funding and I was made redundant…three now since I left Bethany. I knew I had to read this blog and let some of your positive attitude rub off on me.
    I definitely think you could write. Look at you, blogging every day…I can never seem to find the discipline to do that. I can never think of things to write about, besides gaming. And who wants to read about my mage, or my rogue? 😉 Thanks for writing today. I’m still drowning a bit, but I’m keeping my chin up, looking for the surface. It’s something.

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  4. Change can be uncomfortable and daunting but you have the talent and intelligence to take this new path in a positive direction. I have every confidence in your ability as a writer and in anything else you choose to do. There are many doors just waiting to be opened by someone of your talents. Good luck in everything this new change brings your way.

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  5. When the Lord closes one door he opens another one or more for you. I am sorry to hear about your job, but excited for you to be able to start a new adventure in your life. The Lord has great plans for you, the trick is to listen and figure out what he wants you to do. I am sure you will find it. Do what makes you HAPPY!!! You have all my support! 🙂 Go and swim across that river!!!

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  6. Good on ya, Big Brian!!! I’m happy to see you’ve taken this approach to a huge change in your life, and looking forward to seeing where it’ll take you! (And by the way….wanna get together and pick berries?)

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