pushing it down


I worked at summer camps for 8 of my 53 summers.

The first 6 years, I worked at a camp that’s down the road from where we now live.

The first two summers I worked there, I was a member of the crafts department.

I worked in crafts because I was majoring in Art.

The crafts area was under the dining hall.  It was a big cage…enclosed in chicken wire.  I spent my first two summers at camp working in a big art coop.

Everyday, I’d see the mountaineering staff come and go…loaded down for a hike or carrying ropes for another climbing trip.

I think they all thought it was kind of funny that I was stuck behind wire.

My third year at this camp, I got to join the Mountaineering staff.

It was closer to where my interests lay than making hundreds of macrame bracelets.

I guess that where this lead in is going is that, even though being on the Mountaineering staff was as close to “right livelihood” as I could get, there was an element to it that occasionally terrified me.

For some reason, I am pretty afraid of heights.

I remember my mother warning me as a three-year old, as I looked up at the cliff behind my Grandmother’s apartment building in Spokane, not to “ever climb on that…you could be hurt.  It’s too high for you.”

If I revisited the “cliff” in Spokane as an adult, I’m sure I’d discover that it was probably only about twenty feet high.  When I was less than three feet tall, it looked like Mt. Everest.

I can’t blame it all on that…but maybe it planted a seed somehow?  I don’t really know.

So, to be so afraid of heights, and to be a counselor at a summer camp who was on the hiking and climbing staff, was sometimes kind of a trip.

For me, there was a lot of “deep breathing and intense focus” going on during those climbing trips.

When you’re afraid, you should pay close attention to what’s going on around you.

I was riveted by my surroundings.

But I learned to hold it together…push the fear or discomfort down and just work at getting the job done.

I didn’t get over being afraid of heights…I still hate sweeping the chimney, hate getting up on a slick metal roof to do that, and it’s not even all that high on our roof (we don’t live in a country cabin hi-rise or anything…it’s only about 30 feet or so…not so high). ….but I learned to push through being so nervous about the climbing part of my job.

Or maybe I just learned to mask the fear.

A buddy commented on Facebook that if “and then if all you dwell on is a dog you just ‘met’, what a great life you must have.”

It was in response to a post ( I almost typed “poste”…I’m not in FRANCE!!!) I’d written a few days ago.  It was a post about lingering memories.

To be honest, I’m worried about a lot of things.  I want things to be good for my family.  I worry about the future…I worry about the present…I worry some.

But I’ve worried long enough to know that it doesn’t do much if worrying doesn’t inspire action or preparation of some kind…so I know it’s healthier to push the big worries back a little and pick something a little less threatening to ponder…like a shoe coated in dog detritus.

I’d really rather not have a shoe coated in anything smelly, either…but sometimes that’s how the cookie crumbles.

It’s a complex thing…choosing what to push down and what to trot out and obsess over.

It’s a good thing if you have the blessed option (or ability) of being able to choose.

Re-reading my friend’s comment, I really appreciate it…especially the part where he said, “and then if all you dwell on…”

My choices shape my life.  I’ve made some bad choices, I’ve made a lot of good choices.

What I choose to dwell on from here on out sets the tone for my life…and the lives of the people in my life.

I can push the sad stuff down.

I’ll probably still freak out about something.  Something will break somehow and I may or may not know what to do.  I don’t have control over a lot of what happens in our lives.  I don’t always know what to do. There are many, many things that happen that can’t really be fixed.

Until it really happens, I’ll try to be a little less bothered by worries.

Poo-shoes are hard to ignore, anyway.

They are a strong distraction.


About Peter Rorvig

I'm a non-practicing artist, a mailman, a husband, a father...not listed in order of importance. I believe that things can always get better....and that things are usually better than we think.


pushing it down — 1 Comment

  1. “Fear keeps a life small.”
    I read this recently, and it stung like truth.
    One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp (P.145)