“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
― Frank Herbert, “Dune”
When my son was very little and in the middle of learning yet another lesson on How To Be Human, he asked “Mama, when do I not learn lessons anymore?”
I told him “Never. The learning never ends. It goes on forever.”
Tomorrow, I’ll prove myself right about that. I’ll be face to face learning a really BIG new skill and I feel like I’m being shoved headlong out of my comfort zone by rude hands of laughing maniacs. Honestly, I’m terrified. My heart is pounding. I find myself catching my breath here and there when an imagined fear visually flashes across my mind and I have to put my hand on the wall to steady myself. All that said, I knew this day would come and I know I’ve put it off for way too long.
Tomorrow, all by myself, alone and afraid, I have to hook our Airstream trailer up to the truck and drive it 3 hrs 8 mins away to meet up with my son. I could not be more terrified were I climbing into an 18 wheeler for my first solo. That’s how big a deal this is to me.
We bought the Airstream and truck last year, but unfortunately, with Covid, she was parked for the better part of the year and we only managed about 4 trips late in the year. Outside of a couple of short practice runs, I have not really driven this set-up. I mean really driven it. I’ve only helped a little here & there in hooking her up, our routine is I load the Airstream with necessities while RD hitches it to the truck, because divide & conquer.
(If you want to get a divorce, let your husband try and teach you how to back up a truck & trailer rig. Did I say “teach”? I meant yell at you to turn the wheels the other way that seems counter to what you’re trying to accomplish. Just sayin’.)
This week, RD’s knee had an arthritic flare up and the poor guy is laid up until it passes. So what to do? Postponing the trip isn’t an option. We’re meeting Raymond, who just bought a brand new camper and will be picking it up on Monday. Arrangements have all been made, deposits paid on reservations, the shopping has been done. That day I knew would come, I would have no choice, it would be up to me to get us from Point A to Point B, is here. It’s tomorrow.
We’ve talked before about the importance of my being able to handle this rig on my own for a variety of reasons: What if, God forbid, something happens to RD out on the road? I have to be able to get us home. What if Raymond wants to go somewhere that RD isn’t interested in but I am? I should be able to say “You can stay home and I’ll go.” and both of us comfortable that I can handle the rig. Raymond is Jeremiah Johnson, his thing is getting out away from civilization to fish and hike. RD is the opposite, he prefers going to places that offer fun things to do and look at, for example Mt Rushmore, The Wall South Dakota, The Badlands, Moab, the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Couer D’Alene, the mountains during the change of colors, and the such. I can happily do both.
Therefore, I have to be able to do this on my own. I’ve put it off for too long and avoided it out of fear and now it’s time to get over it and just do it.
I’m not new to RVing, we started out in a little Winnebago View. I was apprehensive driving her at first, too, until I got behind the wheel and just did it. After that, there was no stopping me. I drove her cross country many times by myself. Setting up and tearing down is something I can do in my sleep. It’s the actual towing that is stopping me in my tracks. It’s a long foot print out there in traffic on the highway.
I’ve got two anecdotes to bolster me. One, on our last trip, as RD & I decided to walk into town from the RV park. We passed a woman, mid to late 70s, maybe 3 RV spaces down from us. She was busy tearing down her camp site and making her trailer ready to hitch it onto her truck. I said “Hello” to her and asked if she was leaving and wished her safe travels. I was struck that she seemed completely in control in what she was doing. If she can do it, so can I.
Second, was a video of a young teacher from Florida who is traveling the country in an Airstream. Since her teaching job went remote, she reckoned she could do that from anywhere and might not have this opportunity again for a long while so she gave up her apartment and bought an Airstream. She described being nervous, she had never towed a trailer before in her life and she was, in her own words “…totally out of my comfort zone…” but in the end, she found it was quite easy and she’s acclimated to it. I related to her 100% being nervous and imagining all the things that can go wrong but…If she can do it, so can I.
No, this is all goodness. Tomorrow morning, I push myself past the boundaries of what I think is possible. Just sitting here right now thinking of doing this all by myself is frightening. I’m seeing runaway tractor trailer rigs or that guy cutting in front of me in traffic who doesn’t understand how heavy my rig is and I can’t stop on a dime. Or someone texting that I watch come straight for me but they are unaware of me. Yikes! Writing about this has helped. I am seeing how ridiculous I’m allowing my imagination to run.
Also, hopefully it’s not really all by myself just yet. Unless his knee is worse and he has to be immobile, RD will be there to be my checklist and be a safety observer.
If you’re doing it right, the learning never stops. It keeps you young. If I survive this, I will hope all of you the exhilaration of facing fears. If I don’t…
Welp. It’s been a hell of a ride and I regret nothing.