Oct 4th 2011

Hanna Park

Napisal Robert

Yesterday I got distracted. Instead of enjoying our terrific vacations, I started stressing up again. Why? The culprit might be a broken wheel bearing, unlocked GSM phone or maybe a fact, that when the money runs out, the dream life of ours will burst like a soap bubble.

We knew all along that our car had a bit of a problem. There was this grinding noise coming from underneath the car, quiet at first and getting louder and louder as we moved south. Obviously, it’s not the direction, but rather the distance that made the problem sounds worse and worse. I’ve been putting off a visit to a repair shop until we got to a bigger city. Jacksonville was big enough for that.

I checked on Google all the reviews of local service garages. Authorized Nissan dealers around here didn’t have much to offer, beside rants of furious customers who complained about the service. Instead, I chose a small, privately owned shop nearby. Unable to describe the problem, I invited the mechanic for a ride. Couple hundred yards later his diagnosis was clear – bearing in the front right wheel was shot. They offered to do the repair right away, and gave us a ride to a nearby library. It took about three hours to get the part from the dealer and get the repair done. It was just enough time for a daily dose of homeschooling.

While Agnieszka took care of our kids’ education, I decided to take a walk to a nearby plaza to get a Pay As You Go SIM card. Since we’re traveling all together, we decided to suspend my wife’s cell phone contract and communicate with our friends and family only through internet. I have to admit, this setup works very well for us. We live like on a sailboat, always close to each other. Since we only have one car, whenever we separate it’s mostly within walking or a bike ride distance. An old fashioned walkie-talkie works great in such proximity. Heading towards less populated areas and being somehow responsible parents we decided that we will need a cell phone for emergency situations. It doesn’t make sense to pay $50 a month just for an ability to make a phone call. Therefore we’ve decided to get a Pay As You Go SIM card for the old phone (which happens to be a CDMA/GSM hybrid device). For some reason, we’ve decided that T-Mobile would be the best choice, even though the rates between operators are quite comparable. I think it’s got something to do with the commercials we’ve seen back in Poland suggesting that T-Mobile subscribers around the World can talk for free within the network. I got the card and I’ll let you know if it works once I unlock our damn Verizon cell phone.

Anyway, after spending $540 for a single wheel bearing and wasting four hours searching the internet for cell phone unlocking instructions, I realized that I was stressing out again. It’s been almost three months now since I quit my job and frankly speaking I’m not any closer to know what I want to do when I grow up. On top of it, I have some commitments towards my paying Customers, which I don’t have the time to fulfill. Around midnight I realized that instead of enjoying the ride, I let such comparatively minor issues ruin a perfectly nice day.

Fortunately, the next morning we took the bikes and went to a nearby park. During the week and probably already after season, the park was rather empty. Great! That gave us the opportunity to enjoy all its’ amenities without the usual crowds and hustles. And the Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park has indeed much to offer. First there is the beach, probably over a mile long and pristine. There are lakes and over 22 miles of bike and hiking trials, picnic shelters, playground and much more. Everything we needed was there. Including the peace, quiet and picturesque views, that attracts multitude local painters. We’ve seen probably a dozen artists throughout the park, contemplating nature and working on their masterpieces. Or the fishermen on the beach, standing still with their fishing rods, waiting for the big catch. They all seemed at peace with their life, happy with what they have and what they are doing - living life - not chasing the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. We tend to overcomplicate things, but in fact life is indeed very simple. It’s about being present and enjoying every moment, rather than stressing about the future. After all, the social security system is almost bankrupt already and the economy is going down the drain. We may as well enjoy our retirement right here, right now, as we’re still young and our children still value us more than their videogames.

Sitting at the ocean, I realize that the car repair bill might seem expensive and will definitely shorten our trip, but on the other hand, this could have led to a much bigger problem or even a disaster on the road. The cell phone is not a necessity; we are still in urban areas. And after all, WalMarts are at least every 30 miles apart throughout the entire United States – we can always get a cheap device. And right now, I’m done thinking about the future. My kids are at the beach and really, really do need me right now!

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