Monday, March 21, 2011

Fear and Tumbleweed in Albuquerque

Okay, I’m certain that of my readers, precious few of you are from Albuquerque, or there abouts (I live in Rio Rancho, the fastest growing city in the state of New Mexico… no, you do not need a Visa to fly here, I have been asked, more on that later). Well, it’s March, and the March madness around here has nothing to do with basketball. This is the time of year when the tumbleweeds decide that life has just crossed their pain threshold, and they all pull up at the roots and blow away. It doesn’t help that March and April are also some of the windiest months of the year. I swear, the freeways here are rail guns for tumbleweed. You ain’t seen nothin’ ‘till you’ve been passed on the freeway by a tumbleweed bush—while still doing 65 mph no less!
As you can imagine coming from Northern California, I wasn’t entirely prepared for tumbleweed when I first encountered it (did you know that tumbleweed actually comes from the Russian tundra? Crazy that, it came over on a boat with feed for livestock). In fact, the first time I meet tumbleweed in a vehicle, I was a passenger. My real estate agent, Anthony driving a PT Cruiser, was blowing down the freeway when a tumbleweed bush half the size of our car rolled into our lane. Despite us being the only traffic on the road, Anthony plowed that bit of botany with a twinkle in his eye. I noted the smug smile before he wiped it clean for the public service announcement. “When you get tumbleweed, you just hit it. Drive right into it. Do. Not. Swerve. You’ll kill someone around here doing that. Everyone drives like that, so don’t forget it.”
I was floored. It was the size of a shipping pallet, but it disintegrated under the wheels of the PT Cruiser (and I’m still not convinced that car has anything other than a sewing machine for an engine!). I watched the rest of the traffic over the next few days as I bought a house (holy cow, that's not a trying experience *sarcasm*), and sure enough, everyone just plows into the tumbleweed here. It was wild. The first time I saw someone swerve, the tumbleweed bush was the size of a small apartment (gods but I wish I had a picture of it, it was the size of a semi, and yeah, that poor little corolla didn’t have a chance).
And so I offer up this bit of—well, I can’t exactly call it advice, maybe a guideline?—but it’s simple: when faced with things that make you fearful, do not swerve! No one else around you is going to swerve when you do. You could kill someone with your untimely swerving. Fear is the tumbleweed. Strike it head on.
Yeah, that’s right, I opened my email this morning to scan for rejections like the bad ass who hits the tumbleweed bush head on: maybe I do have a propensity to thumb my nose at gods, but the important thing is, do not let fear of anything slow you from what you love and dream of (did I mention my committee? They actually said I would suffer for my inability to express my science. This is not a joke. They actually said this. And the scary thing is: I’m thankful for their frankness!????!!!!! What is wrong with me?).
So, hit that tumbleweed. Do. Not. Swerve. Fears are to be meet head on, without hesitation.
Tomorrow, I’ll tell you how a teenager gave me the courage to obliterate my tumbleweed. And even more importantly: I use this advice every time I give a talk (did I mention I talk to crowds of somewhere between 100 and 300 people well versed in the subject I speak almost 2 times a year? Yeah, that’s not intimidating…).

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