Comfortable in My Own Skin…and Other Useless Phrases
©2012 by Pat Wray
There are times when I feel just slightly out of phase in the modern world. I’d like to blame it on the rapid technological advances that have taken place in the last decade or two, but the truth is, I’ve always been a little slow.
You might think that because I write about outdoor issues I would avoid the high velocity changes that plague the rest of the world. You would be wrong. I can barely keep up with improvements in underwear, not to mention camouflage clothing and heaven help me, Global Positioning Systems, or GPSs. So I suppose it is not surprising that I have a bit of trouble with some of the modern vernacular.
One of the statements I find most confusing seems to be picking up steam recently; I’d hoped it would die a natural, early death, but alas, it still thrives. I first heard it several years ago when a fishing partner, in the midst of an otherwise normal conversation, opined that I seemed ‘comfortable in my own skin.’ Near as I could tell, it was apropos of absolutely nothing, but I didn’t want to seem rude so I said “Thank you. I molted last month.”
My partner looked at me like I was the weird one, so I tried a new tack. “Well, we don’t have chiggers around here and I try to stay out of poison oak.”
Again, the look.
“I use sunscreen?” I tried. No good. So, we just fell back on an in-depth discussion of football.
A fireside conversation a year or two later with a group of friends yielded this jewel, “We all need to live in the moment.” This time I recognized a concept that was well outside my small sphere of understanding, so I kept my mouth shut. I later regretted the decision though, because nothing I might have said could have made less sense than their pathetic attempts to explain the notion.
In the years since I’ve had numerous occasions to revisit that conversation. I’m a bit of a daydreamer and it’s not uncommon for me to spend two or three hours living in every moment but the one I actually inhabit. I visit moments of success, of failure, of embarrassment, of fear and despair. I experience moments from books I have read and books I have written. I revisit movie moments and my last day of seventh grade. I look back on my wedding day and wish I’d held the kiss for at least 30 seconds, instead of the little peck I actually accomplished. And then, in the midst of my reverie, an elk will jump out of the brush 10 yards ahead that I certainly would have seen had I actually been paying attention.
I’m not sure that paying attention is quite the same as living in the moment. I think perhaps living in the moment refers to not worrying about the future. Just last month I took a long walk on a beautiful sunny day. Conditions could not have been better but I spent the entire two hours worrying about deadlines, writing articles in my head and wondering how I was going to find the time I needed do the things that needed doing. I was back at the rig and loading the dogs before I realized I hadn’t noticed one aspect of my surroundings. I couldn’t remember one thing about a walk that should have been filled with beauty and wonder.
So maybe the phrase ‘living in the moment’ has some validity, which is more than I can say about the mildly poisonous, linguistically challenged, pablum-coated ‘It is what it is.’
I first realized how much I hated that saying when I heard Scott Stouder say it, just after the mountain goat he’d shot in Idaho’s Seven Devil’s Wilderness had fallen into a near-vertical chute of loose rock, where it slid downward more than 400 yards. He looked at me and said, “It is what it is.”
I resisted with difficulty the urge to toss him in after his goat as I wondered what would have been wrong with a clean and elegant statement, something with classic lines.
Something like ‘Phooey!’