Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.
Recently, my husband and I resigned ourselves to the necessity of refinishing both our extensive decks and the wooden railings that surround them. We’d been postponing the inevitable so we could enjoy previous summers. “We can do this ourselves!” we assured each other as we lugged weighty five-gallon buckets of paint from the car over and over again, knowing we were asking for sore muscles at the very least. We cursed the previous owners who had thought surrounding the house on three sides with wooden decking was a capital idea—attractive, yes; practical, no. Did they realize encasing full-grown trees in the deck was a nightmare for fire prevention? Did they imagine later owners would have the massive funds necessary to replace the decking with something more expensive and less high-maintenance? A pox upon them!
Zoom in to a shot of the two of us contorting ourselves as we labored, promising ourselves that paint would delay encroaching decay. The hot sun beat upon us. Our backs and hands cramped. Friendly wasps thought the paint smelled good and dive bombed our heads. Self-pity dripped from our foreheads and down our backs. Was this a fair outcome for aging homeowners?
Meanwhile, we rented the DVD of JUNGLE with Daniel Radcliffe based on a book by Yossi Ghinsberg. The story centers around three young friends who venture into the Bolivian jungle with a guide who promises rare and wonderful adventures. Misfortunes abound since the guide is not what he seems to be and neither is the jungle. The four divide into pairs, leaving two on a makeshift raft trying to reach human habitation. The raft is no match for the raging river, and Yossi is left to fend for himself in the jungle. I remember reading a true account of a girl who was the sole survivor of a plane crash in a jungle, so I wasn’t surprised at the nastiness of the experience. Without going into details, let me say that being forced to extricate a long worm out of his own forehead was only one of Yossi’s ordeals. The contrast between his trials and our deck painting made me wince. Yes, I’m a wimp.
Those who live in modern comfort often forget the acts of will the poor around the world must summon merely to continue living from day to day. The book BEHIND THE BEAUTIFUL FOREVERS by Katherine Boo details the real drama of life in a present-day slum of Mumbai, India, where the discovery of especially good trash is a joy and dreams of improving life are often dashed. Yes, even people who must paint their own decks live at a level of wealth they don’t appreciate because it feels normal. Are we superior, as many who wallow in riches believe of themselves? Or are we separated from the essence of life and hopelessly materialistic as many indigenous peoples say we are? Interestingly, Yossi Ghinsberg, who suffered so terribly in the jungle, returned from visiting his family in Israel to live among the indigenous peoples who nursed him back to health. Among them, he found something more precious than a “privileged” life.