Wednesday, April 6, 2011

String of Lights

March 11 was a strange day. I knew there was supposed to be some big astrological shift taking place that day. But I didn't think it would be so violent.
I couldn't comprehend the magnitude of an 8.9 earthquake and that buildings were still standing. Gratefully Japan has their shit together for earthquakes.
As I got ready to drive to my morning meeting, I heard tsunami warnings for San Francisco. I double-checked my route to the client site. Yes, I should be fine.

I have a serious fear of earthquakes.
As I got ready to go, my mind was pulsating between  the mundane (I should get an apple for the drive, I should make sure to dust the cat hair off my power cord) and the worst case scenario (what if Japan is just the kickoff earthquake and tsunami and the Hayward Fault is going to really rip it up next?)

* * *
But you know what? Nothing happened here.
I drove to my meeting, I met the client. It went well.
It was a sunny day. I ate my apple.
I listened to good music on the way back.
The threat of tsunami passed.
Mundane won.
Not to say there was no damage anywhere. Japan had been ravaged. Some coastal areas were a bit battered.
But since I was okay, it was my responsibility to LIVE and be GRATEFUL.

I went to dinner with great friends.
We went to a fancy southern joint.
The orange velvet chairs made me happy.
The food oozed love.
The big fancy doors were so graceful.
We could afford this spendy dinner.
It was an embarrassment of riches and I wanted to absorb it all.

The next few days as the nuclear reactor situation became grim, my anxiety returned.
Because of my rabid earthquake fear, I deliberately chose not to view any images from the quake or tsunami, as I didn't want to stock that image larder.
But I paid attention to the nuclear reactor news and the radiation.
I just felt so sad, like we really screwed the earth this time.

A friend and I went to visit the redwoods in the hills.
Huge sequoias. This park always makes me feel better, like I'm hanging around wiser (calmer) beings than myself. I had to be REALLY QUIET to hear any wisdom, but it was there. And there was even more deep below the roots.
After a couple of hours with the sequoias, I felt like things would be okay.

* * *
For the next several days, this pattern kept repeating.

Devastating sadness about all the broken hearts in Japan.

And THEN the unfurling list that I, the safe and living person could be grateful for:

  • I knew that another rain storm was coming so I was able to cut down the danger branches. 
  • I am healthy enough to do that! 
  • I am inside my house while it's raining and I'm dry! 
  • It's a scary storm but everything is fine!
  • I have a house!  

Whenever I felt sad, I could always go to my dog for the classic cheer-up, the dog mind-meld.
This seriously works.

* * *

I don't have any words of wisdom. I don't want to lose the sense of compassion over time. 

All I can say is how it's felt: like a lot of darkness with some fabulously brilliant bright spots. Like a string of lights.


Anonymous said...

My sweet EVT
I have been spending time fearing and preparing.
You know me, no surprise.
I am trying to focus on my faith.
Turn my fear into fellowship.
I loved your words & string of lights

Eileen said...

Dear Karin,
I hear you on the fear (um, less so on the prepare). We live in such a gorgeous part of the earth so I'm grateful for that. And I'm grateful that I know you!

Sarah Overman said...

This is one of my favorites.

Denise said...

I don't live in what any would consider a gorgeous city, but I felt the fear that the events of that day would erupt into other problems (which it seems to have done, what with the radiation), but I have been, and am still feeling the "string of lights" phenomenon. I am grateful for my health, the health of my children and dog, of my sister and her children, and all the people I love, even as I am aware that it could change in an instant--and will, inevitably, change, one way or another.

Eileen said...

Y'all are making me tear up! Denise, thanks for sharing. Reading your list makes me feel a little bit more grateful.

s said...

Oh Leeners,
This is beautiful! I love my cameo, too :) I think this one is medicinal!

Mike Ogle said...

Not to pile on the praise wagon, but this is truly lovely. I think you nailed a universal truism about survivor guilt, at least my experience of it. Wonderful metaphor, EVT.

david mangene said...

fantastic. my personal favorite moment? the dog mind meld. feelin' that one.

can you please make one everyday?


sarah-anne said...

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bruddah said...

Very nice Eileen. I really felt a very peaceful moment while reading this.

cath said...

I don't know how I missed this post, except that something or someone knew I would need it more now. I live in the south (Alabama) and as you know our state was recently hit by devastating tornadoes.

I have had a lot of guilt feelings, because our place sat untouched while destruction happened all around us. After reading this post, I feel better. So simply put, thank you.

Anonymous said...

I just found this because I searched on "introvert" on facebook, and really connected to what your were saying... all of it really. But I have to say I especially connected with the dog-mind meld. My golden retriever, Oliver, has been gone now for over 8 years but I used to put my forehead to his forehead just like in your picture and touch my nose to his cool wet nose (ok, maybe just when he was a puppy, his huge head got too big for that after a while) and feel some great sense of calmness and peace. I want to printout and frame that picture just for that reason.

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