“‘In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.”*
Strong words that cut to my core when I found them a scant two months before Covid hit. Covid. We lost a lot of work and a great deal of money. We’re OK. We have friends whose careers were destroyed, whose lives were altered in unfortunate ways. We are OK. This past year was a challenge, a provocation to know ourselves, each other and the life we share better. Its been an opportunity to appreciate the little daily rituals of what Thoreau may have called; our ‘quiet lives of desperation’. We are OK. I am OK because the two previous years were far worse.
“‘In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or to-day.”*
I had a purpose when I started this blog. To share, how to say this, not only to share what I like about where I live but to share how to, well, how to look at and value the good stuff, the softly gleaming flecks thrown in with the overwhelming dusty chaff. So. Much. Colorless. Chaff and Dust. Drifts of it. Sort through, look for the good bits and hold on tight because that found sliver of joy may be your allotment for the day.
It’s all in the mind.
Hope is a hard-hearted, hustling b*tch. You can shake your inconsequential fist at deaf heavens and demand reasons and reparations, but when your future is encoded in the essence of your being, even before you were born, you deal with it. You just deal with it.
It’s weird, I’ll catch you up, but in all the ridiculous twists and turns of being multiple-morbidity handicapped I kept running into Doctors, Nurses and Physical Therapists who sat back, looked at me and said, more or less, ‘You should write a book.” “Me? Why, I suck at being handicapped. I LOATHE this.” “But you are doing so much better than you should.” “I suck at it.” “Oh, no. You are good. You could help others.”
In short, I have been to the very bottom. Kids, I set up housekeeping there. I don’t like it there but when I am kicked there, I know the way out.
Hope, for some of us, cannot be the warm fuzzy feeling that ‘gee, Lassie, someday, somehow, we will feel better, get better, be better! Why, that old Blue Bird of Happiness will tie up our dirndl skirts and we will be healed’. Right. For some, there is no better. However, there IS the now. There IS a possibility that you may have an acceptable moment of Now. And sometimes, if you are lucky (and if you have worked at seeing it), there is a hope that there will be a Now that brings a moment of joy. Food of the gods, that.
I’ve been kicking around the ‘when’ of starting this blog up again (Ugh..months. Side road: It occurred to me I should record, and leave for future anthropologists and historians how we, the little people, dealt with Covid buuuut Trump was President and high blood pressure is a thing I have to monitor.) I digress. I was kicking around the ‘when’ but it was child-like joy from an unexpected place that gave me the impetus. It’s the impetus because it beautifully illustrates the hope, not that you will heal, but hope that there will be an occasional, quite pleasant, maybe even gleeful, Now that you can hope for.
Yikes. My doctors will cringe when they see this. Man, I could choke on a potato chip, fall off my couch and die. It happens. I could have died never knowing the winter glee of ice boating.
I know this is a really abrupt change from where I started this thread but sailing on ice was the unexpected mental change I needed to get me back in the game. This, exotic to me, sport was on my bucket list. Kinda scary, ice is wicked sharp (Hard too.) but I have some needed background (sailing) and I was in the hands a crazy adept sailor. The invitation was spontaneous. I started to waffle and worry how it might hurt me but I told that voice of constant sorrow to stfu and let me have some fun. (In seriousness, I ran the computer simulation of how I could get hurt at warp speed. Outcomes were good.) It turned out to be one of those unexpected spontaneous joyful moments of life. Those small moments where hope doesn’t play you but comes through for you.
Here is the gleeful kick in the pants that encouraged me to start writing again; a late winter iceboat ride on Muskegon Lake:
So, you don’t get cured but you might get to go screaming across the ice at 65 MPH on a cracking, sun filled late winter day.
More on Iceboating from the West Michigan Ice Yacht Club: https://www.wmiyc.org/
*From W.H. Auden’s As I Walked Out One Evening,