I like to think I’m always up for an adventure. It’s usually a good thing to leave your comfort zone and explore new options. Whether it’s a new vacation spot you’ve been dying to visit or an extreme sport you want to try, most people are always looking for something different. However, every so often plans go awry, and what you signed up for turns into a calamity.
But maybe you’re not the one who signed up at all; maybe somebody else filled out your paperwork or booked your trip. But at this point, what difference does it make where the fault lies once the ground starts shifting? After all, if we’re already on a runaway roller coaster, it makes more sense to concentrate on hanging on until the end without throwing up or falling out.
No matter how we got into this mess, though, there may be a few more things we can do to make sure everything runs smoothly (even if the circus is currently run by clowns as crazy as they are scary). Because what doesn’t nuke you makes you stronger, right? And if it’s a legitimate disaster, well, we have ways to try to shut that whole thing down.
Let’s say that you were looking for a fun vacation and a good deal on a cruise caught your eye. Sure, the company used to sell toothpaste and then suddenly began touting itself as the leader in cruise lines, but that seemed like a minor detail. And if the offer seemed too good to be true, all you had to do was ignore that queasy feeling in your stomach because, hey, what could possibly go wrong? So, you popped some Dramamine, Immodium, vodka, or whatever made it easier for your decision to go down better and climbed aboard for a four-day trip to paradise.
But now the ship has barely left the shore, you’re not even a whole day into the vacation, and the whole thing is starting to sink. You were told that this ship was unsinkable, that it was the best ship, a tremendous ship…yet here we are in the middle of a very big ocean, and there’s no more time for denials: you have to start bailing.
Your first instinct might be to cling to the rails or lash out at everyone telling you to seek higher ground. But is there really any sense in going down with the ship? Sooner or later, you must agree that it’s time to ready the lifeboats, strap on a vest, and start brushing up on the 25th amendment. In short, it’s time for a liberal helping of reality.
But maybe that doesn’t exactly describe what happened to you. Perhaps you weren’t sure what kind of adventure you were seeking when you first started out. All you were sure of was the kind of trip you DIDN’T want to take. No more so-called “fun” beach vacations for you! You believed you were smarter than that and well aware of the trap: you think you’re going to have a nice time, but instead of swimming with dolphins, you find yourself swimming in emails. Nope, no more flip-flops for you; you took that trip years ago and were looking for anything else.
And at first, your safari vacation doesn’t seem so bad: it’s outside the mainstream and not at all boring. And there will be way more selfie opportunities and bragging moments…if you make it out of there in one piece, that is. That’s all part of the charm, right? Living on the edge is fun! It’s not until you’re facing a stampede of out-of-control elephants, however, that you realize that maybe a beach vacation, while not the flashiest option, is still a pretty damn good destination.
Still, there’s hope. The myth that elephants are intelligent has been vastly exaggerated, and they’re easily distracted by shiny objects such as flashlights, fires, and social media. Be sure to look up your own elephant at https://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ and drop a tweet to let them know you don’t appreciate them trampling your rights. While you’re at it, you might want to start researching beach getaways a bit more so you’re not just relying on your crazy uncle Bob when he claims that lying sedentary on the beach is just as lethal. Sure, Bob.
Or you could have been the person who perused the vacation options, turned up your nose at all of them, and decided to stay home altogether. I understand the temptation, of course, especially when it’s clear how disastrous some escapades can be. I’m sure you’ve learned by now, though, that if you don’t use your vacation days, you’re just giving them away. No, although you might have dreamed of a staycation, you still have to choose your own adventure. As you’ve no doubt come to grasp, forgoing this decision is akin to letting somebody else pack your parachute before you BASE jump off a cliff.
However, even if you’ve found yourself reaching for the missing ripcord mid-leap, realizing that you’re losing a game of Russian Roulette you had no idea you were playing, there might yet be a way to salvage this situation. Fortunately, it’s a long way to the bottom, so you have time to think. Unfortunately, that means you’re in freefall this whole time, and who knows when or where you’ll land. But much like Wile E. Coyote, even as you’re falling you can still take out your phone and dial 202-456-1414 to complain about the lack of safety nets as well as the legality of those meddlesome Russians and their tricky games.
What if you’re someone who rolled your eyes and claimed that surely a travel agent could find something in between those unoriginal been-there done-that vacations and extreme adventures where the aftermath includes getting ribs taped up and tapeworms extracted (only if you can afford health insurance, of course)? Disillusioned, you decided to try an up-and-coming third world party, perhaps something like Carnival. The new culture was so refreshingly different: the flavorful food so unlike the gauche cuisine of home, and everyone so open and friendly, not like the maladroit people you put up with daily. It was different and exciting and you gave yourself over to it completely.
But the party eventually ran out of steam, so you had to return home and back to reality. But while you were away, distracted by feathers and beads and hopeless pet causes, you forgot to have someone watch your house, and in your absence, somebody took a constitution on your front porch and lit it on fire. And that’s only the beginning: as you walk through the house, you realize that everything you’d carefully been building had been dismantled by intruders, all because you were so eager to party like the socialist butterfly you thought you wanted to be.
Yes, you should have been more vigilant, but you can still get it all back even after all this time. Gather everyone else you know who was also violated and march down the street to your local (or not-so-local) authorities to protest. You might even want to set up blockades on the road to 270 to ensure that in the future, you can take third world trips and have them be increasingly meaningful, content in knowing that at the very least, everything will go back to the House.
But what if you planned, prepared and did everything right and you STILL find yourself treading water in a shark tank with rusty hinges? Sadly, that can happen because life is shitty that way. In this messed-up world, it’s possible to win the most games but still lose the World Series. So how do we dodge complete disaster even when we’re between the devil and the deep blue sea?
It might be very tempting to use this time to yell “I told you so!” But although sharks may have excellent hearing, they’re terrible listeners, so all you’ll do is waste your oxygen. Some people might want to spitefully rip the rest of the hinges away, letting the sharks rip up the place completely so that everyone finally understands the danger. But I’d caution against this approach as not everyone is as good of a swimmer as you and while you may escape unharmed, you could be setting up others to fall prey to the great whites.
Instead, work together to hold the sides of the cage, knowing that your strength in numbers is the last great refuge. And although you might become tired, you must persist in holding it together. You can outlast anything, and in the meantime, you can boycott companies like faulty shark tanks that care more about profits than ethics, as well as donate to antirust groups.
In the end, don’t stop searching (and researching) for adventure because it doesn’t always have to end in catastrophe. And above all, don’t throw in the towel and go on a retreat to Canada. That’s just cold.