End of the Turtle

Since I last checked in, Beth and I have taken part in a pleasant whirlwind of activities with our friends, Bob and Linda here in Cape Cod, MA. At first, I was concerned that we wouldn’t be able to keep up with or fully enjoy the pace of experiences that Bob lined up for us, but I can definitely say that it’s been a blast!

Before I get into the juicy details, I want to take a moment to talk about something that I’ve noticed in myself and may have mentioned in this space. I am prone to disappear when I feel overwhelmed. In psychological terms, many refer to this as “isolating,” something we do when we are protecting ourselves from some re-triggering of old trauma. It’s like a turtle who retreats into his shell when there’s a predator around.

I’ve been doing this my whole life, but now I’m beginning for the FIRST TIME to notice it beginning before it hits. And with Bob, Linda and Beth this week I am now conscious of it as a choice. For example, we were on our way to a luncheon yesterday and on the car ride I felt something inside of me start to move inwards. Feeling it or seeing it, I was able to say, “No, Scott. There’s no need to go inside.” Wow. That’s cool. “I’ve never noticed this before,” I thought.

This is huge because not only have I protected myself from perceived danger in the past, but I’ve registered the need to isolate when wonderful, interesting or novel things were happening, too. Put another way, anything that was perceived by my Inner Child as threatening or just anxiety-provoking caused me to crawl away into a shell and emotionally protect myself. As a result, I probably missed many, many opportunities to feel and experience life. Sigh.

So, my work on myself has led me to this place where Bob and Linda – two of the nicest people on the planet – were able to provide the stimulus for the reaction to take place but instead I responded with a conscious, different approach that kept me present. Wow. I will be eternally grateful to them for having this begin to turn around.

Okay, back to some details!

On Wednesday, we started the day with a walk at Thompson’s Field, a 57-acre park for dogs and their owners. The rain landed gently on our heads as we made our way through this beautiful park with Bradley, lots of dogs and their owners and Bob and Linda’s dog, Smudge!

The big event of the afternoon, though, was a 30th Anniversary present from our hosts – a biplane ride over Cape Cod!

Long ago, I took a flight on a small Cessna plane, but this was much more fun than that experience, primarily because it took place in an authentic, outdoor-cockpit plane. Beth and I traveled side by side in the front compartment and our pilot, Kyle, flew from behind us.

How did I know I was nervous? I started joking, of course, about going up in one of these old-fashioned jalopies – obviously somewhat freaked out by the felt possibility that this was going to be my exit from this mortal world. As it turns out, there was nothing to fear because Kyle was in complete control from the moment he greeted us, through a pre-flight check, takeoff, and a soft landing on the grass next to the runway. Yes – we landed on the grass next to the runway and felt the wheels shift ever-so-gently from left to right as our pilot guided us back to the hanger. Phew!

Bob captured all of our experience on camera, so we can look back at this amazing opportunity and relive the wonder of this gift. And I’ll need to do that because the jaw-dropping nature of it and how quickly the 15 minutes passed by certainly caused me to miss some of it in a blur.

But our 30th Anniversary experience was not over! That evening, we went to the Wequassett Resort in Chatham for dinner and a concert. Having spent 7 months in an RV eating at a banquette overlooking other RV trailers or, if we were lucky, a tree – it was a mindblowing switch to end up in one of Cape Cod’s premier dining spots.

Sitting down in this opulent establishment overlooking Pleasant Bay, I felt a strong, faded memory inside of me return. I recalled all of the places my maternal grandparents took us to as children – white table-clothed restaurants with oversized, leather menus, expert waiters, and fine china. When I was a boy, my brother and I had no knowledge that we were moving amongst some of the most fortunate in our society, but I certainly could tell that was the cast on Wednesday evening!

Surprisingly, all of my memories of having been bred to feel ENTITLED in these types of places came rushing back into my body. I have to admit, not all of it was as pleasant as the conversation we were having with Bob and Linda, because I found myself quietly appraising all of the details around me. Evidently, I had been raised not to enjoy these experiences so much as to find fault when they were not optimal. Perhaps that’s some of my experience as a waiter coming up, too. I’m not proud to say so, but I found my nose turning up when the filet mignon in front of me wasn’t prepared well and said as much to our waiter. It was as if I had become engaged with the spirit of the uber-rich who felt entitled to complain when things weren’t perfect. Ugh. The next morning, a part of me wished I had kept my mouth shut, but I really was trained to say something in fine hotels or restaurants when the performance was off. Sigh.

All of this was wiped away in a flash when we sat down for the after-dinner jazz concert. Grace Kelly, a ball of energy and talent, came out with her hot, hot band and blew the doors off the Wequassett Resort with her saxophone. Instead of being trapped in my critical body (see above paragraph), I found myself transported into the oneness that only great music can inspire. God Blessed us with Music!

I think that’s a good place to end for now. I didn’t expect to write about all of this in such depth and I want to return to the present moment. But more to come, my friends!

Post-Concert Joy with Bob, Linda, Beth and Scott

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