Tuesday, November 25, 2008

looking forward, but thinking about my rear

When I bought Vanta C, I promptly enrolled in a DIY auto maintenance and repair class at the local community college. It was the perfect class for someone like me, who was afraid to reach her hands down the throat of her growling van to check the transmission fluid. The class started with the basics, how a car works, identifying major components of the internal combustion engine, and performing oil and filter changes. The class didn't result in my becoming a do-it-yourself auto mechanic, but I did learn basic vocabulary and anatomy, and I graduated with less intimidation and fear. Now I throw around words like "gravy", "aftermarket", and "drivetrain" while getting my oil changed, and I get dirty at gas stations checking fluid levels like a pro.

Today I crawled under my van to have a look at the rear axle. It's been leaking fluid for some time now, and I know I should be checking the level regularly, but it requires crawling under the van and removing a plug, so it has slipped by the wayside of my regular fluid checks. Today I woke up inspired to figure it out, and began by Googling "check rear differential fluid". Between the step by step instructions on the web and the ones in the Chilton book I have, I figured I could TOTALLY do this myself. So I got my gloves on, grabbed a shop rag, and scooted my darling little ass under the beast Vanta C. I found the plug, stopped in my tracks, and my brain took over. What if I unscrew this plug and the fluid gushes out all over the place? What if this is actually the drain plug? But no, it couldn't be, because it's on the side, not the bottom, but what if it is? Then I'll have a big mess on my hands.

So I stared at the plug. This must be the right plug, but I now feel like a chickenshit. So I decided to ignore the differential fluid and focus on breakfast (fried egg sandwich and tea).

Being on the Vantasy means uncertainty, and I am drowning in a broth of it. It's a nonstop barrage of choices, from the teeny-tiny to the mega. I'm standing in a malfunctioning batting cage, swinging as fast as I can, and the decisions keep flying at my head faster and faster. Think about how many choices you make in a day, whether or not to hit snooze, what to wear, coffee or tea, brush your teeth first or put deodorant on first, the red scarf, yes, the red scarf... The average person makes hundreds of choices before noon. But imagine how many more choices are involved when your house moves each day, when there is no forgone conclusion that work starts at 9:00am. Each day, I ask myself when I should leave, where I should go. At first it was fun, but now that the novelty has worn off, I'm suddenly unable to decide what's next. Don't get me wrong, I love being in control of my life, but it's almost like there are too many possibilities. I have more freedom than I know what to do with. Sometimes a little restriction can be helpful, acting as a guide, like the barrel of a gun guiding a bullet toward a target. Without the barrel, the bullet would just fly off in any old direction and we could have another Cheney hunting mishap on our hands.

I've been really stupid about making decisions the last few weeks. I wake up and decide to stay, then a few hours later think that maybe I need to go. I decide to head south to Baltimore, but then on the way to Baltimore end up stopping in Harrisburg and deciding to spend the night there, and then while I'm there I decide not to go to Baltimore at all but instead to visit my cousin in Philly, second guessing my choice all the while. So, I've come to this point wherein I agonize over these decisions because none appear better than any other, and before I know it I'm a big ol' stresscase and things are much more complicated than they needed to be.

Yesterday I was tumbling into a downward spiral of crazy head over my choices, so I called Cecilia. There's so much to say about her that she's going to get her own post, so for now I'll just mention that her advice weighs heavily in my thoughts and decisions. Anyway, we came to the conclusion that certainty is an illusion. Just before I left for my Vantasy, someone told me, "You picked the wrong time for a road trip; gas is going to kill you." Meaning that I could have maybe made a better choice about when to leave. Turns out this was the perfect time to take this trip, as now I'm paying $1.78 a gallon. What I mean is: I can make a decision to drive south, and then a bridge could be out, forcing me to head east. I can make a decision to pull the plug and check my differential fluid, but I have no say in whether the fluid will shoot out all over my face. I can decide to start a relationship, or end a relationship, but I have little control over who I love or who loves me.

We're raised to be aware of the consequences of our actions, which I think is good. But letting go of the constant need to be in control of outcomes is even better. Choices don't need to weigh as much as I allow them to. I've been feeding all my choices Big Macs, Cokes, and cans of Crisco with all this agonizing I've been doing. I need to let them starve, survival of the fittest, I say. I need to sit back and ride the coattails of this journey and give up trying to control it. And I'm going to start by throwing caution to the wind and checking that rear differential fluid!


Trina said...

Yay, I hope it went well with the differential fluid (?)! And yay for Cecilia, what a great friend who can help you step outside the situation like that. And Jazzercise and Crema. ;)

Anonymous said...

YAY! I love you Eva!

Shannon said...

here's to no fluid in your face!


John Judy said...

If you're really worried, buy some diff. fluid first. Then check it. If it leaks all over, you're all set. If you need to add some, you're all set. If you don't, you can return the still sealed container to whence it came.

Also awesome post. If you master the whole choice/control thing, let me know. I need lessons.

Sammy Davis Jr. said...

Interesting post. Not to get all Zen on ya, but if one is afraid of fluid shooting all over their face, one must first move their face. AND, if fluid starts coming out, put the plug back in … or your finger, at least. That is what they do at Hoover Dam. ;-)

Nobody is swinging at baseballs coming from a malfunctioning batting cage because there is too much chaos and balls are flying everywhere. Not even the pros swing at balls flying at their head, except for Barry Bonds, but that is only because his head actually fills the whole stadium. Beyond him, it is duck and run at that point. Find the power source and unplug it before more damage is done.

If gas is $1.78/gallon and you are still stressed out, your first stop needs to be a massage therapist. I’m just saying.

Finally, the real reason I came on here to post a comment was in response to your statement “I have little control over who I love”. Really? What does that mean?

Seemingly, that would be one thing people would want to at least understand, if not control. Understanding the characteristics of the people you “love”, the different types of “love”, and which person belongs in each category seems to be a huge part of the journey of life. If finding the people you “love” is random chaos, what’s the point of getting to know people? We will simply “love” or “hate” them with no control. Although I don’t have the answer to the philosophical dilemma, to say we can’t control who we “love” and, therefore, who we “hate” doesn’t seem right.

Vanta C said...

Sammy Davis Jr.! Show yer face! I went to your profile page and there's no email address, no blog, no way I can respond to you... I'm guessing you're someone I know.

For starters, I've pulled the plug alright. Turned off my phone and shoved it in a drawer so I have time to think and just be alone. Suddenly things don't seem so pressing. I'll blog more about that later, but will you be around to read it?

Sammy Davis Jr. said...

Who knew you could put a pic on? You kids and your fancy toys. ;-)

I updated my information.

Uhhhh...the picture is of me the morning after you served me LOTS of Johnnie Walker Blacks on the rocks. That narrows it down to two people. You can click on the My Web Page link for more pictures.

And I have been around since post #1 (per your request), of course I'll be around for more later.

Vanta C said...

Mr Jr., have you ever tried not to love someone? It's nearly impossible.

Sammy Davis Jr. said...

You have no idea how many times I have loved a cheerleader and I swear, as soon as she won’t go out with me, I don’t love her anymore. I KID!!!!!!

In all seriousness, yes, I can control who I love and what type of love I have for them. I can control who I hate (read – Auburn fans) – wait, I am supposed to be serious and I can’t say I seriously hate Auburn fans; damn me!!!!!! I can control if I am angry at someone. I can control if I am lust. I can control if I am afraid.

I have been in love and after they have left me I have chosen whether or not to stay in love with them or to eventually let them go. The fact is, as humans, we can control our emotions. Although it might not be easy, that is all we can control – OUR own emotions. We can’t control other people’s emotions, but we can control our own. The key words you used is “nearly impossible”. Maybe it is “nearly impossible”, but that means it isn’t “impossible”.

Now, in about 30 minutes, I am going to go see if I can get someone to fall in love with me. Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving.