Growing up in Texas, my Thanksgiving dinners were turkey and Christmas: fajitas. Occasionally brisket, but for the better part of my formative years, “Can y’all pass the tortillas?” was much more common a request than asking for the gravy.
Which meant there was guacamole on the table.
For a kid with an imagination, it reminded me of something off that stupid You Can’t Do That on Television show, where some girl named Moose was always getting slimed. I also imagined it was brains, guts or pistachio pudding. (Note: after a pistachio pudding OD incident, I shunned the speckly dessert with fervor). It was evil incarnate in a white Corningware bowl. I’d never tasted it. Never wanted to. And frankly, I’d rather do math than eat it.
I spent thirty some-odd years thinking the worst of avocados, wondering how they kept finding their way into my sushi (slices which I poked-out with a chopstick), why people would purposely order a sandwich with Green Evil on it and passing over menu items left and right that noted the evil in the list of scrumptious ingredients. I would even make guacamole for parties, yet never ate it.
And then I finally tried it. Age 36. It began with a chip, a dip
My life changed. This morning’s breakfast? Homemade chilaquiles with uncured turkey bacon and avocado sliced on top.
How often do preconceived notions color – or taint – our journeys? I have no idea what prompted my chip-in-Green-Evil incident, but if I hadn’t put aside my preconceived notions, I’d be missing out on killer fish tacos, unbeatable nutritional benefits and the incomparable yet silly joy I feel when I score an avocado perfectly and the pieces pop out with a perfect plop into a bowl.
It’s the joy I’m after. Avocados, while not life-changing in and of themselves, changed my life. By opening myself up to some freaky, squishy, fatty fruit, subsequent doors have opened and damn, am I glad.
When one door closes, another one opens. While we’re occasionally stuck in the hallway (written May 2006), I’ve become more a fan of thinking that when one door opens, you walk into another room filled with doors. The ones you open from there are your choosing.
Preconceived notions keep us from opening doors. So does fear.
I’m asked more frequently than not how long I’ve been writing. The answer? As long as I can remember. I recall a day in some English class or another when I wrote a story about a dick of a businessman and after I read it out loud, Diane Blair yelled, “I want to date that guy!” A character brought to life before I’d lost my virginity, yet it took until age 34 for me to say:
THIS. I want THIS and I’m going to do THIS.
I was supposed to work in an office and have two weeks of vacation, medical and manage other companies’ sales operations. I was supposed to live in California, Nevada, Virginia, Tennessee. I was supposed to like being a part of the Navy Wives’ Club (and if you though Desperate Housewives was ruthless, this trumps any socioeconomic politics out there).
I don’t know who told me I should do (or even want) any of those things.
Shedding preconceived notions and taking a walk on the wild side – so close to the edge of the cliff that you’re scared shitless of the fall yet far enough away that you know you’re not going anywhere…
for me, that’s living.
My work-life balance isn’t unlike my avocado journey: a tall glass of “Really? What the hell – it can’t hurt” and embracing whatever follows. I mean, shit – I found out that I like avocados. Here are some other things I’ve discovered that I like:
- Crab-stuffed jalapenos wrapped in bacon
- Cross country skiing
- Ice climbing
- Cycling, cycling, cycling
- Teaching (who the hell thought I’d ever become a teacher of sorts?)
- Loose leaf tea (its developed into a bit of an obsession, I must admit)
- Writing flash fiction while sitting at cafes, airports and anywhere I can watch people
- Traveling (this, coming from a woman who never took a vacation other than to Florida until she was 28-years-old)
- Art (another borderline obsession)
- Historical fiction from the Elizabethan and Tudor periods of English history
- Gadgets and analytics (I am a geek for this… I suckle at technology’s breast)
As I’ve been writing today’s post, I sat here and wondered how I’d describe myself as a kid growing up. I always played sports (volleyball, mostly. And bowling. Shut up.). I loved history and won tons of history fairs. Speech, theatre and debate were tops. I hated being told what to do and where to be and cleaning my room was Teh Suck. I absofuckinglutely loved essay questions on tests.
And somehow, I chose an early adult life that included none of these things.
I don’t pretend that my journey is special – I could fill up a basket with people who each have had their avocado moments and said fuck it – THIS is what I want to do.
Life catches us. It’s the reality of the Personal Legend. If you’ve never read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, pop it in your Kindle and report back. When you set out to follow your dreams – and if those dreams are truly yours and your purpose – life has a way of making sure we achieve them.
I was meant to love avocados. Each day brings me closer to my Personal Legend and further away from Preconceived Notions. It’s bliss, I tell ya. I get all teary-eyed and kumbayahfuckinghugme just knowing that I’m lucky enough to live this path. There is not work-life balance: there is only life and it’s best thought of as a bouquet. What you put together makes it work and when you do it right, no one passing by can do anything but stop and gaze at the beauty you’ve created. They want to be near it.
And when you try to cram any ol’ bunch of crap into it, it’s a mess. It’s out of sync. There’s no harmony. You won’t throw it away because you need something in the middle of the table. But what you won’t admit is that you don’t need that. And so by not throwing it away, you’re taking up space that could be occupied by something lovely. Inspiring. Awe-inspiring.
What’s your avocado?