Tuesday, October 11, 2011

You won! YOU WON! Now, pay up.

Lucy came up to me a few days ago, waving a piece of paper in the air excitedly.

"I WON!!!" She was overjoyed. I was perplexed. She's six. Was she entering lotteries without my knowledge? Maybe she snagged pre-early admission with a free ride to Harvard?

She thrust the paper into my hands and pointed. "I scratched the circles and I won!"

Oh. Crap.

She and her brother each get a few subscriptions in the mail each month. Ladybug, Highlights, National Geographic Kids.....you know - kids mags with crafts and stories and poems. It keeps them busy in the backseat when we are in the car, and I am usually totally thrilled with them. But sometimes, they have an outer cover, which is actually just a big ad for some sort of "club" and it totally gives kids the impression that they really have "won" something. The fine print is *very* fine, and it took me about a minute to even find what I was looking for so I could show her. "Sweetie, what it is, is that they send you these things free, and then you have to pay $13.97 every 5 weeks, forever. So, it's not really that great a deal."

Her face fell. She was devastated. I mean really, who doesn't like free stuff? No one, that's who.

Today I was in bed checking my email and the first message was from a familiar name.....someone I had read about. "Congratulations" it began, "You are a winner."

The email offered me a slot in a sold out conference, said my name was next on the list to be offered this space. Gave me instructions for registering. I didn't recall putting my name on the list - in fact, I remember looking at it and thinking: "(sigh) I can't spend the money." But I did recall leaving my email on their site a year ago, asking for information about another such event, and maybe this was because of that? I was perplexed...but intrigued.

I rushed the kids off to school, came home and sat down to read the email again. And again. And again. I don't really know what it is. The objective is to improve your life. Well, plenty of room for that around here. But is there a sweat lodge involved? It says that it is for people who like to make cool stuff. Does that mean crafts? The last time I used a glue gun I glued my fingers together, burnt my ear, and swallowed a button. While I enjoy "the crafts" I am not crafty.

And then I checked plane fares.
Because, here's the thing. Living in paradise is amazing, but it is has a moat around it like no one's business.

I did the math. It's going to cost me, realistically, about $1500 all together, between registration, airfare and food.

I do not have $1500. I do not, in fact, have a job.

And while this conference may be just the ticket, may be just what I need in order to choose a direction - one that is not governed by marriage and children - I don't know if it is, indeed, the golden ticket.There is a risk involved, and it could go one of several ways:

A. I can not go, and then have a convenient excuse for why I still have no idea what i am doing with my life. So far, I have been presented with several similar opportunities - writers retreats and such - and each time I have shied away. While the financial risk was one reason, the emotional risk was another. Because if I go, I have to have something to show for it afterwards. Scary.
B. I can go, and then come home and resume life as usual and feel like a huge jackass for spending the money on a weekend of drinks and crafts and conversation. I don't want to do this. At all.
C. I can go, and come home and struggle to make it worthwhile, following the talking points, trying to manifest all of the great ideas I was surrounded with, and maybe absorb some of the entrepreneurial spirit, and then in the end just resume life as usual, secure in the knowledge that as a wife and mother I have attained my penultimate goal - as stated since my childhood - while secretly feeling like a huge failure for not having a career.
D. I can go, and make some amazing friends, return energized and inspired, with a clear plan and a set of goals to achieve - and the motivation to make all my dreams come true.

I don't know if I can afford to go.
I don't know if I can afford NOT to go.

But the bottom line is, while I have been offered the spot (and I guess that is techinically winning) it doesn't feel like winning - it feels like a challenge. An ultimatum. The idea of going is just as nervewracking as the idea of letting yet another opportunity slip by, waiting for "the right one" to come along. Sometimes you just have jump on, hang on, and enjoy the ride.....across the moat.

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