Shoe Strings and Other Things

A shoe string, an old phone charger cord and a bungee cord—that’s what it took to repair the shredded splash shield (protects the engine from underneath) on my Toyota Camry. Don’t laugh. It got us from Flagstaff, Arizona to the dealership in Reno, Nevada.

Improvising, according to Webster, is “producing or making something from whatever is available.” And this wasn’t the only time we would need the skill on our vacation. The Colorado high country had record snows last season, which left the high, Jeep-road passes around Ouray still closed when we visited a week after the Arizona breakdown.

So we improvised—taking new roads or, in one case, an old road in a new direction to our favorite haunts. Guess what? We discovered beauty on that road we had never seen. Seems that improvising can have the added benefit of introducing one to undiscovered treasures.

In Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom, Mary Catherine Bateson wrote that navigating the retirement years is an “improvisatory art,” which tells me I’m going to have to do a lot of making things work from what is available.

Anyway, I saved the other shoe string just in case.

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