On a remote tropical island, the waves break gently over the golden sand of an exotic beach. A clear blue sky with only a distant line of clouds far offshore sets the scene for the perfect bikini model photo shoot. A beautiful young wanna-be-model frolics in the surf teasing the camera. This long dreamed of adventure is what she has been waiting for and working towards. It is all she has ever wanted and now in this moment she has the opportunity to prove herself. Propped up on her elbows for the sexy cleavage shot she waits for the photographer to change cameras as the waves splash around her. Water droplets glisten on her tanned skin in the early morning light. She tries to keep herself steady as a rogue wave catches her by surprise. Tumbling about in the surf she forces an unconvincing smile. A break is called, and the young women storms over to her mentor, an attractive woman with long dark hair and deep brown eyes that have seen many years in the modeling business. She has been observing, encouraging and coaching her young protégé.
“The water is so cold, and I have sand in my suit.” She moans adjusting the tiny strings. “Why do these photographers have to take so long? We had to get up so early and I’m hungry. How much longer will we be out here?” Her mentor silences her with a look and with patience she simply says, “Bikini models don’t complain.” The simple sentence silences the younger woman’s litany of complaints. She pauses and stares blankly processing what she has just been told. Silently she takes an offered towel as she internalizes the wisdom she had just been given.
A quote attributed to Neil Peart comes to mind, “Adventures suck while you’re having them”. While this can often be true adventures may also be amazing and wonderful. Whether they suck or are wonderful depends on how you choose to experience them in the moment. At the end of the day I have found that they always make for a great tale to tell over a pint.
It was 1980 and I was in my early twenty’s when a friend and I decided to hitchhike to Florida and visit my Dad. I saw it as a warm up trip for my long dreamed of hitchhiking journey across the country to climb Mount Shasta in California. We were excited about this our first real hitchhiking adventure. It didn’t take long for the reality of our undertaking to sink in. After having spent hours on an I-95 exit ramp in South Carolina with barely a car coming by the suck began to set in. We were faced with a choice and sitting there bitching about our dilemma was not one of them. We ultimately switched our tactics, put on our packs and hiked the mile or so to busier Hwy-17 where we soon got a ride.
On this same trip a trucker dropped us off at another lonely exit, this time in Florida. It was near the end of the day, so we decided to camp for the night. We passed an uneventful evening snacking on what little junk food we had in out packs for dinner. Dawn came and with it we were both pretty hungry and there was no place within site to get anything to eat. A few trucks filled with grapefruit were the only vehicles we saw. Longingly we watched load after load of the delicious fruit drive by until one driver took the exit a bit too fast and to our surprise and delight two grapefruit fell off the top of the truck and rolled nearly to our feet. A more wonderful breakfast could not have been asked for. Another lesson illustrated for me, though it was a long time before I got it, the suck is temporary.
These little adventures combined with a thousand more have served me very well in illustrating that it is not at all about the situation you find yourself in, rather it is about your attitude and how you approach it. No matter the path one chooses there are always pains and long hours that must be endured. To master a skill it takes accepting the challenges and approaching them with joy and enthusiastic effort. For the aspiring guitarist it means many hours of repetitive practice with painful fingertips from the steel strings. Yet each new chord mastered is a success and cause for celebration. For those who embrace the difficulties and hardships with a joyous effort, knowing that each obstacle overcome brings them one step closer to attaining their goals, the journey transforms into a wondrous adventure full of unexpected rewards. Perhaps this is where the title “journeyman” comes from in the trades. One who has completed the long journey through an apprenticeship.
You will never hear a firefighter complaining that the fire is too hot. When the work is hard and uncomfortable it’s not the experienced hands that do the grumbling. They have been through it all before and understand that it’s overcoming the difficult challenges in a career that make it all the more exciting and worthwhile.
There is a sense of pride in accomplishing something that others only dream of doing or would never think of doing. Those who have overcome the challenges and mastered their trade, whether it be modeling or firefighting, will be able to look at the grumbling newbee with a knowing smile and say, “Bikini models don’t complain”.
William C. Judge 2018