failure & redemption

Indeed, Gentle Reader, life of late has been like HELLBOY meets Alice Starmore.  Without Hellboy’s help.  His hands really are way too big to knit with, I’d think, but I feel sure he’d understand Alice’s patterns, and one could always wind yarn on his horns.

Anyway.  It turns out that among other things, my hospital interlude left me with heart failure.  Which they knew at the time of my discharge and somehow omitted to mention.  Thus, I’ve had six weeks of that stuff where you wake up after being asleep for a while and feel you’re suffocating.  Among other things like not being able to pull weeds for five minutes without running out of breath and being totally at the bottom of the barrel moodwise.  Another six plus hour trip to the emergency room (ha!ha! that’s an oxymoron, G.R.) where I never did get seen but finally tottered out knowing I didn’t want to be there until midnight.  Instead? We went to a restaurant in town, where I always seem to be a bit tattered.  The first time, I had a black eye (beam from yurt roof fell on my forehead) and THIS time I was covered in bandages and hospital bracelets.  They take it in stride here, however, because EVERYONE looks more or less like a wreck, and after some shockingly good food (a REAL New York steak sandwich) and an Actual Cocktail (bourbon, thank you), survival seemed likely.  And whaddaya know- I’m still here and even perhaps improved.

In the meantime, things have been floating up in my mind.  The wound, as Rumi wrote, is indeed where the light enters you.  That light can reveal some things one might rather not examine, like how old patterns still form a big part of the operating system.  What’s my father doing in here? one might ask.  More pertinently, why have I been racing around my whole life thinking I had to do,do, do, do more, do more again- when really that isn’t it at all in life, and also? It’ll kill you.  Of course, there is a bit of a concerted effort to keep us all doing precisely that, rushing around and not thinking.  Just accepting it when it seems that you must work (for someone else) until you drop meanwhile saving some impossibly vast sum of money so that when you get cut loose by your benevolent corporate sponsor you don’t starve to death.  Using weed killer on the lawn, not thinking about what that’s doing to the ground and the water.  Letting your phone tell you what to do and where to go.  Believing them when they say that all the poison that got dumped/inadvertently mailed/put in your food poses no threat to public health.  Finding a place to stand in the midst of all this is indeed the work of a lifetime, and it’s a pity more of us don’t start earlier.  Or perhaps, more successfully- I THOUGHT I’d started but it turns out I was a foolish and deluded bear.

The thing of it was that I didn’t really accept the way things actually are.  It was just too depressing to acknowledge the evil and harm in the world, and I had a rather large set of matched emotional baggage to cart around as well.  It’s taken a long time to get even the bit of clarity I have now, and one thing seems clear at least.  One must remain calm.  It sounds silly but when you think about all the times you get stressed and disoriented, just in the course of a day or a stroll down the grocery store aisle, it illuminates the fog we (yes, I) walk around in far too often.  Calmness isn’t a matter of repressing what you feel, either.  It’s more a matter of feeling what you feel, looking to the source and putting it in perspective.  Like, that was then, this is now.  What can really be done at any given point?  WHERE THE HELL AM I? If I am in fact in the grocery store there’s no need to panic, seriously.  The other big part of it is acknowledging the World around you.  Look at and speak to your fellow humans and animals.  Look at the sky.  This alone goes a long way toward clarity because it eventually does show you you are NOT alone- others are slogging through all this stuff too and the odds are that one of you will actually make it and be able to deliver a cogent report about the lay of the land.

Last evening we looked at storm clouds on the horizon.  (And we could do this because we had on our handy dandy mosquito and bug repelling bracelets! Yay!)  They were an incredible slate blue, behind the varying shades of grey and olive green of the trees, and there was a strange kind of alertness to it all- a soundless sound.  The finches and titmice and woodpeckers and hummingbirds were  busily eating their dinners and taking baths, the lizards and frogs were bustling around (we have BABY frogs at present, and they’re PINK).  We’d spent the workable part of the day (the non-broiler setting on the temperature that is) weeding and digging our raised beds up, the Partner and I (albeit slowly in my case).  Everything was quiet and the soil seemed to be thanking us for our work as it laid there tilled and breathing, happy with its new rock dust and peat and seaweed.  Our seedlings have sprung up luxuriantly and of course, even though I did a drawing of what seed was where….naturally, it is now all a mish mosh and it will be a revelation to see which tomatoes are the giant yellow Ukrainians and which are the San Marzanos.  Will it be cayenne or bell pepper?  We’re clear on which melons are which but that is about as far as it goes right now.

Anyway, as everything breathed in unison it seemed to me that the truth is, redemption is always possible, and always happening.  There’s a wonderful line in a poem by Robinson Jeffers about how the heartbreaking beauty of the world is there, whether or not there is a heart there to break.  Our hearts generally do break, of course….but perhaps that is what they are made to do.  If they don’t break they don’t open, and we never grow and flower.

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