Thoughts by Richard Bleil
School is back in session for most places this week or next. Well, by the time you read this, it should be this week or last. It’s kind of a painful time for me, as this is the first year that I don’t have classes to prepare for. And yet, it offers a window of opportunity.
A former student of mine and her family went to the Omaha Zoo. This zoo was well funded thanks to (if you recall) it being the home base for the Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, a wildly (if you’ll pardon the pun) popular nature program that began in 1963. So popular, in fact, that it ran through 1971, ran in syndication from 1971 through 1988, returned from 2002 to 2011 on Animal Planet and was on the web from 2013 through 2018.
Yup, long history.
When they visited, they probably were unaware that I live about seven and a half miles from it, although to be honest, even if they did know I doubt they would have wanted to include me in their family time anyway. I have been to the zoo, but not since I’ve moved to Omaha. Honestly, I should have a season’s pass. But there are a few things that have kept me away.
The first is that whole “I can do it tomorrow” mentality that keeps so many of us from visiting truly marvelous locations that are in our home area. That same mentality is the reason I’ve never seen the Statue of Liberty despite having lived in New York City. Kind of sad, really. Second, I really don’t know many people in the area yet. It’s hard to meet people for me. I’m not very socially skilled. And finally, I really don’t like crowds.
To be fair, those last two reasons may very well be related.
Now school is back in session. That means that family outings are less likely since school-aged kids are back in captivity. Uh, school, I mean. That makes this a great time to do those things that ordinarily have the potential to draw large crowds, at least during those times that kids are likely busy. Weekends, for example, still have the potential to be as busy as ever, at least until winter approaches, but being in the situation I find myself I can easily go on a weekday.
My friend was born in Greece. He told me at one point that the country, usually overrun with tourists, has a window of opportunity in the spring, after the flowers have bloomed and before the tourists invade. He tells me that the hills are overflowing with flowers and is beautiful.
Timing is everything. In Ohio, my friends and I (yes, I had friends once) decided to try a brand-new Italian restaurant for lunch. I kid you not when I say you could smell the garlic from a half mile. All of us had stories the next day about the smell of garlic that emanated from our pores after having eaten there. A few days later, the smell of garlic from the restaurant was significantly less. They still had a lot of garlic in their cooking, but they cut back on it significantly. Now, me? You cannot have too much garlic in my opinion, and as even then I was without a significant other, it’s not like anybody complained about me. One of my friends, on the other hand, said he woke to find a bag of potpourri on his pillow between him and his wife.
It’s okay to laugh at that. We did.
I guess life is a series of windows of opportunity. She’s perfect, but she’s already with somebody else. They had delicious donuts, but they’re gone now. You would have been accepted but the application pool was just too large this year.
It’s important to keep your eyes open for those opportunities when they arise. When I was in school, I was only interested in science, and I let the opportunities to expand my knowledge in the humanities, arts, culture and philosophy slip away because I simply didn’t think they were important. I let far too many opportunities to go to concerts slip away as well, concerts I know I would have enjoyed but for the fact that I didn’t want to go alone. Such a waste. And now, those opportunities are gone forever.
My opportunities are drying up. Spending my life, wasting away here in a house that will likely be my tomb, there’s just not much that will happen, although, I will try to make them for myself now. I’ve jumped out of a perfectly good airplane (although apparently I was not supposed to because of my health issues, but I’d rather live than survive), and I want to go Zip Lining as well. And I want to travel. I’ll find a way to make it all happen. They won’t drift past my door like they used to, so now, I guess I’ll just have to build those windows myself.