Photo by Marani Ceja from Pexels

Last weekend, I was standing on my balcony, sipping a cuppa tea and half-listening to my neighbours have a chat. No, I wasn’t snooping or being noisy. They were quite exuberant and, by their second joint, extremely boisterous. They were inebriated but in a jolly sort of way. It was a happy high that’s amusing and endearing.

Well, that’s how I saw it, but I was in the minority. It was eight AM on a Saturday. Everyone on my side of the building knew what kind of fun they were having. Most ignored it, and a few listened in. One person told them where to go while another politely gave them directions. It’s very considerate, I suppose. If you’re going to send someone off, the least you can do is tell them how to get there. We can’t have people wandering around aimlessly.

Not in that state, and these lovely people were— how should I put this? They weren’t three sheets to the wind. Nope, they’d tied those sheets together and made a hot air balloon. They’d taken certain liberties with the movie Up and were floating happily on a breeze. Up, up and away. Have fun, travel safe, see you when you get back. We’ll have lunch. I’m sure you’ll be starving. Ta!

Oh, I should mention that all forms of cannabis are legal in Canada. Other than annoying people who wanted to sleep? Well, they were within their rights to smoke whatever they pleased on their balcony. It would’ve been nice if they kept the volume down or shared with the class, but whatever keeps your balloon in the air.

God knows we all need a bit of a pick-me-up after the year we’ve all had.

I went back inside to make a second cup of tea, their giggles travelled with me, and I chuckled along. You know what they say about laughter. It’s contagious, and it’s the only contagion that doesn’t trigger my gag reflex. Bring on the laughter, the clowns, and the happy little bubble.

And they were in their happy little bubble, loving life. 

I couldn’t help myself! Listening to their joy gave me the warm and fuzzies. It’s also possible, by that point, I was enjoying a mild secondary high, but for the sake of this conversation, let’s just say I was high on their happiness.

Does that sound weird?

It doesn’t matter what triggers it or if it’s brought on by an intoxicant. Happy is happy, and I’m here for it. Or, I’m desperately in need of a reason to smile. It’s been a year of relentless mind-fuckery, and I’ll take the reprieve wherever I can get it. Even if it comes from two people enjoying an early morning puff on a sunny Saturday.

With a new cup of tea in hand, I followed the giggles back to my deck and leaned on the railing. The silliness continued for a while, but it abruptly took an unexpected turn. There was a long drag followed by a thoughtful exhale, and then in a serious tone, one said, “But that’s what I’m saying, you know. Whatcha waiting for?”

I think I missed a big chunk of the conversation because that transition did not make sense to my sober-ish mind. But their friend caught on quickly and agreed. “Yeah,” they replied, “I don’t know what I’m waiting for either. I should just do it.”

The giggles quickly returned, and the moment was over. The smoke was giving me a headache so, I went back inside and closed the door. I have no idea what they were talking about or laughing at. I couldn’t follow half of their conversation because logic wasn’t a factor. It was a harmless bit of fun for them and mildly amusing for me.

It was a fleeting moment that shouldn’t have meant anything at all. Other than enjoying a moment of amusement and joy, which is always welcome, it was a non-event. It wasn’t worth a second thought. Then again, sometimes those trivial moments mean more than we realize, and advice from two stoners is worth taking.

Objectively, that is, and with a clear mind, a life lesson can pop up when you least expect it. Like, standing on my balcony at an unholy hour on a Saturday morning? Yep, that’s the last place I expected to find a brain-tickling thought. It just showed up, and then I spent the rest of the day trying to scratch that damn itch.

What am I waiting for? Is it a sign, a lightning bolt, or the right moment? And when would the right moment be? What would it look like? Speaking of looks, what would that sign be exactly? Neon flashing lights or is it a road sign with milage and arrows.

And don’t get me started on the whole lightning bolt situation. You’re not a cartoon character. If you get hit by one of those things? You don’t say meep-meep and hold up a sign that reads, uh oh. You most certainly don’t run fast enough to kick up the dust while you frantically try to slap out the fire on your arse.

I’m starting to think that signs, lightning bolts, and the right moments aren’t viable indicators. They’re never going to manifest themselves in a way that will mean anything to me. I’ll always find a way to dismiss them or use logic to prove that I’m seeing what I want to see. And if I want to see it? Well, maybe it’s not the sign that’s important. Perhaps, it’s my desire to find it that speaks volumes.

So, let’s ask the question again. What are you waiting for?

Every time I ask that question, my legs get twitchy, and I want to slam my laptop closed and run away. Well, limp briskly in the opposite direction, but the end result is the same. I’m not sure if it’s the question or the answer that scares me the most. Aren’t they one and the same? Whew, I need a minute and another cuppa tea.

Please excuse me while I go and have a very minor panic attack.

Whew, that’s better. Is that the right word for a small mental breakdown? Probably not, but let’s go with it. I don’t feel like dissecting my mental health right now or cataloging my many mental illnesses. Nope, I freaked out a little and walked it off. Now, I have a comforting drink balanced precariously on the armrest of my sofa- what could go wrong- and we can get back to the question at hand.

What are you waiting for? 

For the last few weeks, I’ve been playing around with a silly dream that I had when I was a kid. We’ve talked about it a couple of times, but ultimately I dismissed it because it was just a dream. It couldn’t possibly become a reality. I was a kid! What did I know about life, the real world, and how cruel reality can be?

And, yeah, that last bit was too dark. How cruel the what now? I mean, it’s true, but it’s bleak. It’s not all bad, and I really need to focus on the happy before the darkness returns. I don’t want to say hello to it, and you don’t want to hear me sing that song. You know the one. Now it’s in my head.

Hello, darkness my old…No! Nope, not gonna happen. Happy. We’re trying to be happy damn it. Don’t make me go upstairs and talk to my neighbours about the importance of sharing. No, we’re not going down that rabbit hole.

I’ve taken that trip once, and it did things to my mind that I did not enjoy. Oo, I shiver at the thought. No, it’s not for me, but if it’s your thing then enjoy the ride. I’m just…No, thank you.

There are plenty of reasons to dismiss this silly little dream, but I keep going back to it. I can’t quit you! Though, I probably should and if I had an ounce of sense? But no, I’m still thinking about it, and it’s turning into a mild obsession. Even more so now that my neighbours have tickled my brain. 

They have me asking that one question and about a dozen others. What am I waiting for? What’s really holding me back? What’s stopping me from giving it a try when it’s risk-free? That might change later on, but for now, why don’t I give it a try? What am I waiting for?

It might not be the best idea, taking advice from a couple of stoners, but I think they’re right. I should just do it and see what happens. What’s the worst that can happen? 

No one likes it. It’s a hobby that I enjoy all by myself. I have fun trying something new. It gets me out of my tiny apartment and out into the scary world where anything could happen, and I could get mauled to death by an over-aggressive beaver.

I don’t know what’s freaking me out more. Is it the run-on sentence, the beaver, or leaving my home for any reason? But I want out of this damn place! And yes, when you read that sentence, it should sound extremely dramatic.

Despite my easily triggered anxiety, I did something, and now I’m kind of freaking out. I’m also kind of excited about it, in a vomitus sort of way. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to find a way to get paid to travel like it’s a real job. How cool would that be? I haven’t figured out how to get paid to do it yet, but I decided to take a small step towards that goal.

It’s silly, and you won’t think it’s a big deal. You might even roll your eyes, and that’s fair. I don’t really know what I’m doing, and… I realize I’m downplaying my excitement because I’m scared you’ll judge me. If I minimize myself, then it won’t hurt so much. It never works but I keep doing it.

But I caught myself doing it this time. That’s an improvement, I suppose. Now, if only I can stop doing it, but one step at a time.

This thing I did? Right now it’s just for fun, and I’m doing it to challenge myself to get out more. Of course, I’m doing it in a safe, COVID-friendly way. I created an Instagram account called The Wandering Cripple (@thewanderingcripple), and I started posting travel photographs and videos. I’m hoping to incorporate some other platforms eventually, but for now, I’m starting small.

For my own sanity, I need to focus on one thing at a time. I get overwhelmed quite easily and caught up in the perfectionist spiral. If I can’t do it right, then why do it all? Then I give up and become a turtle in my shell. 

I’m tired of being a turtle! I want to be a…What’s a fast-moving but gimped animal? Damn, I can’t think of one, but I want to be that. I want to go and live my life, chase a silly dream, and find my happiness.

My stoner neighbours were right. I should just do it. What am I waiting for? What are you waiting for? If you have a dream that won’t leave you alone, no matter how silly it is, what’s stopping you? It doesn’t have to be perfect or big. We can start small and work our way up, but starting is vitally important.

And so is shameless self-promotion. If you have a minute, check my travel account @thewanderingcripple on Instagram. I’m posting as often as I can get out, which isn’t that much (thanks a lot COVID), but I’m really enjoying the challenge. I’m chasing a dream, and I owe my stoner neighbours a thank you.

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