Optimism, diamond rings, deep wells.

I was at my parents' cottage a couple weeks ago walking around in the shallow water. I'd been given a task by my daughter, to find medium sized rocks. Madison, my daughter, builds these structures with a base of rocks and then drizzles wet sand on them to create these incredibly strong walls. Sometimes the structures are there for weeks and through storms, rocks from the lake and wet sand--someone should alert the little pigs of the world.


As I walked through the water trying not to kick up too much sand and obstruct my view of the bottom of the lake, I kept feeling this little leap in my chest or throat or some undeterminable anatomical place within my chest-ish area. It was excitement. This happens to me all the time, like when I check the mailbox, or open the front door because there has been a knock on it. I was not overly excited about my incredible skill at finding uniformly sized medium rocks--I thought maybe, just MAYBE I might find a diamond ring. Not treasure, or something cool, very specifically, a diamond ring. When I check the mail I think maybe there is some kind of unexpected good fortune waiting for me there, like a big check, or an awesome package, or some amazing job offer that I have been mailed (????, yes, that's a real thing I think). 

I took off my diamond ring and placed it in the water and took a picture. I would not recommend doing this, you can just enjoy mine. It's just a Herkimer diamond (slight tangent, but if anyone wants to take me on a bucket list trip--I want to go mine for Herkimer diamonds) so it's like a fancy piece of quartz. But still, I put it there to see if I would be able to see a ring in the water. I could. I will always be looking for diamonds and waiting for million dollar checks, and thinking the person at the door is there to bring me something so spectacular that I might even wish I'd showered that day.

They tell me it's called optimism. But as I walked in the water and thought about how much I do this, a new thought popped up. Maybe it is stupidity. I don't feel disappointment in not finding these treasures, but that little leap is always there. Just maybe. Maybe today is the day. Optimism. It seems so lovely. Feeling excited and hopeful about life. But can I tell you how many times my incredible faith in "good luck is just waiting around the corner" has gotten me into some seriously crazy and dangerous situations? How many times I have been totally burned? Maybe I'm just stupid. 

I sifted through the water and thought about this. Standardized testing points in another direction for me far in the other direction from stupidity. But if I wrote a book on ridiculous situations and circumstances and choices I have made, they are all rooted in the belief that good is in there and this will work. The fact that I am still alive--apart from being a small miracle--is proof to my theory. I can just kind of leap and history is on my side when I trust that something will be at the bottom. However unpleasant the fall may be, I will stand back up and eventually walk away. Forward. I will keep on keeping on. 

I'm 31. I am on like my 95th career. I have a dozen failed friendships and cringe worthy relationship endings. I have multiple degrees and like 92 cents. I have a boat load of stories but I can't write a memoir because it would stir the pot too much. So, I come back to my new thought. Am I stupid? What am I doing wrong? How do I have all this optimism, all these degrees, all these "smarts" and still get it wrong so much? Does my optimism blind me from reality?

Which brings me to the deep well. I had to tell my daughter that not all people are good or want good things for you. It was horrible. Her complete lack of fear of others is beautiful. She believes all people are good and worth talking to and befriending. Ever since she was a small child she has chatted up anyone and everyone. So, to be practical I taught her about tricky people. How would you ever make friends if you can't talk to strangers? Or get a job? or ask for help if you're lost? Not talking to strangers is ridiculous. And really, statistically, strangers aren't really the real problem for most kids. So, I told her "Madison. Not everyone wants good things to happen to you." It turned into the longest discussion we've had aside from something about God's role in the making of babies and finally I told her you can't ever be totally sure. But the best way to tell if someone is not nice is if they are tricky. Nice people want to help and they will let you check things out, like with your mom or your sitter or whatever. If ever someone won't let you follow the rules, then they might be trying to trick you. 

This is not about parenting. It's about me and how I have never been able to tell if someone is tricky because I am completely blinded by the hope of diamonds and millions of dollars and amazing free trips because treasure is real and it could show up at any moment. 

A woman came into the studio about two weeks after I started holding summer classes and I was so excited. She wanted to feature me as the exclusive yoga studio to new home owners in the area. Put my studio on a brochure and let them know it was the top studio and the only studio endorsed by her company. I thought, THIS IS IT. I have needed so badly to jumpstart my marketing and here it is. It walked right in my door. Hello, diamond ring, I am perfect sized hand.

And then she told me it would cost $92/month and it went out in some mailer to all people that recently moved and I thought about all of those coupon mailers we use to start fires with in our Chimnea and I thought. Fuck.

I did a lot of gardening this past week. I found myself excited to dig in the dirt because you never know what you might find!! A few years back my friend was terribly concerned that she had discovered a body. It wasn't. Not like a human anyhow. But maybe there was a dead human in my garden bed wearing a beautiful diamond ring. (straight to hell, I know, I know.). And you wanna know what I found? Cement. The largest piece being so big I actually feared I might go to the bathroom in my pants from the exertion of pulling it out of the ground. So, there's that. 


I am sometimes overcome by the well, the depth of the well, really, that is full of stupid things I have done or believed or said or participated in. I will not pretend they are all because I am optimistic and was tricked or something. But all the things that are hard and hurt. They live in this well and sometimes I sit on the side of it and peer into it and wonder if maybe it's me. I'm the common denominator between all those things in there. Me. What is it about me? And then I remind myself that I'm just not that important and the universe is not conspiring against me and I go back to sifting through rocks in the water for treasure.

Maybe next year, or tomorrow, or in 5 minutes, something completely unexpectedly spectacular will pop out from around the corner. For now, I will be content with my family and friends, random songs I love coming on the radio, wildflowers by the side of the road, and the beautiful hunk of cement in the middle of my yard that is too heavy to move so now we must just love it. I'll peek over into the well from time to time, it will no doubt just keep filling up. But that's ok. Everyone has a well of bullshit, right? Maybe there is a diamond ring somewhere down there.

Lisa Schueller2 Comments