The Wonder Woman, my wife of two years, and I call the double wide mobile home with the million-dollar view the Mountain Cabin. The view of the Wallowa Mountains front range sweeping north 10 miles to Mount Harris is stunning on the most storm-ridden days. When the gold of late summer shines, it takes one’s breath away.
Call me crazy but sometimes I like to think of the Mountain Cabin as a cruise ship, and myself as the cruise ship captain. No, I am not an egomaniac. No, there is no buffet or live entertainment, except when Mattie, our main cat, and Sophie, our auxiliary cat, decide to engage in a game of chase.
It’s all about being the captain of the cruise ship of life, not just a passenger. It’s about being the instigator, the idea guy, the person who opens the door to adventure.
Here’s how it works. As a cruise ship captain, it is my responsibility to find one novel thing to do each weekend to beat the relationship doldrums. For example, the other weekend the Wonder Woman suggested we go to a movie and out to dinner. OK, sometimes, often, nearly always, more times than I’d like to admit, I’m beaten to the punch. The Wonder Woman is the cruise ship captain, and I happily go along with the entertainment she suggests.
Being a homebody, a wallflower, an introvert whose idea of a crowd is three people and a smiling dog, I struggle with cruise ship captain duties. Some days, figuring out an entertainment is harder than others. One reason it’s difficult is we have two modest homes, 90 miles apart. I work in the Grande Ronde Valley, Wonder Woman works in the Walla Walla Valley. I know what’s going on — the cheap date opportunities — in the Grande Ronde Valley but often spend my weekends in the Walla Walla Valley.
Budget is another consideration that looms like dark clouds on the horizon Some days, such as the Fourth of July, the decision is easy. We’re going to the fireworks and celebrating the U.S.A. and independence. Period. End of discussion. Did I say I like fireworks?
As a cruise ship captain, I need to be the man with the plan. Ideas for cheap dates are everywhere — in the newspaper, online, even in the post office lobby.
These activities need not involve long trips or hotel stays. And they don’t need to cost a fortune. A seven-course meal with real napkins is nice, but it isn’t part of our weekend template.
The activities can be something as small as a slow bicycle race or a tennis match when we make up the rules.
The bigger point is, relationships fall into ruts. We need to break out of those ruts and fill the senses with new experiences. We need to be experience collectors, experience hoarders.
Life is not about acquiring material possessions and keeping up with the Smiths and Jones and all their boats, recreation vehicles, swimming pools, great rooms and bowling trophies. It’s about doing stuff. Going places. Turning off the TV and computer for a while, getting away from the smart phone and Facebook. It’s about doing new stuff, or stuff you’ve done 1,000 times before, but with a new twist. For example, instead of just visiting a waterfall, you might take along swim trunks and sit under the spray, letting the cool water invigorate your spirit and then trying to chase down the fool who had this idea.
Being a cruise ship captain means taking the initiative. It means being proactive rather than reactive. It means looking for windows of opportunity, and when those open, jumping through the window like some kind of experience stunt man.
As Helen Keller said, “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Each week, we need to try to do something adventurous.