Photo from Lynn DiGennaro
Anything But Calm
“It is a curious fact that people are never so trivial as when they take themselves seriously.”
Yesterday’s excursion to the inlet was, upon reflection, hilarious. I was sitting in the front seat of the Subaru watching Jim and Chuck, one of our two Welsh Terriers, walk over to the jetty. Hunter was in the back seat. I was looking forward to a calm experience of reading my Great Books Discussion Group readings with the warm sunshine falling on me and the beautiful sight of the jetty in front of me. Apparently, the gods of the universe decided it was time to punk me! I plucked my book out of my tote bag and about a third of it was soaking wet. What? Immediately, I realized my hospital volunteer tumbler had somehow overturned in my tote bag and drained all over everything. I was close to hysterical. I grabbed the book and laid it on the seat next to me, hoping it would dry out in the sunshine. I grabbed the tote bag and saw that it was full of water and starting to drip on my lap. I tried to open the door to pour out the tote bag. Big mistake! The doors were locked and wouldn’t unlock. Like any hysterical fool, I kept trying. For some inexplicable reason, the car alarm went off. And wouldn’t turn off! As I grabbed my purse to look for my key thingy, I looked up to see people looking at my car – I’m now a spectacle. I found my key thingy and turned off the alarm. I opened the door and turned the tote bag upside down to drain on the parking lot while Hunter was quickly discovering this might be the time for his escape.
As I tried to simultaneously yank the tote bag, still dripping, back inside the car, shut the door and grab Hunter by his collar, which was, by the way, buried underneath his neck cone, I noticed that my favorite purple pen had fallen from the tote bag onto the asphalt when I overturned the tote bag. Now, I’m half-way out the door, trying to retrieve the pen, when Jim walked up to the car. He had heard the alarm and come back to the car. When he saw me, his concerned expression turned to laughter. The nerve!
Jim retrieved my pen and handed it to me while I juggled my purse, Hunter, and the dripping tote bag. I was not as amused as he was. I stuffed everything between my feet on the car floor and shoved Hunter into the back seat, his cone momentarily becoming wedged between the two front seats. I picked up the wet Great Books Anthology and put it in my lap so Jim could get in on the driver’s side. That was when I noticed the spider. He was big, yellow with brown spots, and had many legs. He was perched on the handle of my tote bag just inches away from my leg. I screamed and swatted him into the unknown hinterlands of the car console. Again, deep breaths. I pretended that I imagined the spider. Things started to settle down.
But not for long! Jim started his running commentary on the inlet scene and I unsuccessfully tried to block out his voice so I could read. The mid-afternoon bright sunshine made my new prescription sunglasses inadequate so I leaned over trying to shade my eyes as I read. Almost immediately, I felt a sharp pain on my right side. Not to worry, I’ve had this pain before when I try to do crunches or lean over a bowl of spaghetti. My personal diagnosis is – too much belly fat! Anyway, the stomach cramp was major and I knew the only remedy was to lower my seat back and stretch out the cramped muscle. So, I pulled the seat lever, dropping my seat into a reclining position. But before I could lean back, both Chuck and Hunter jumped onto my seat, behind my head and jockeyed for space. At this point, my yells at the dogs were at a volume commensurate with the combined effects of my stomach cramp plus annoyance.
Jump ahead 10 seconds and I’ve pushed the dogs off my seat and I’m trying to stretch out the cramp. Meanwhile, Jim is commenting for the 5th time on the newly formed beach on the other side of the jetty. Apparently, he knows how to focus on what is important! My cramp relaxes and I bring my seat back up to an upright position. Now, maybe I can read?
The readings this week, as I’ve come to expect from this anthology, are interesting and enlightening. One of the readings is an exchange of letters between George Washington and the head of the New York legislature about their changing roles from civilian to military, written in 1775. As I try to underline some important passages with my purple pen, the pen stops working. Yep, it is still wet from its bath in my tote bag. I have no other pens with me.
Two deep breaths later and felt my blood sugar level start to drop. It was 2:00 pm and my Diabetes requires me to eat on a schedule. Normally I’d eat something appropriate for lunch like a salad or tuna sandwich. I told Jim that I needed to leave this perfect experience and I’d like to stop by our favorite pizza place and get take-out. My last words as we left the jetty were, “F**k the Diabetes!”
And that was my mindful experience for the day. Hope you enjoy the poem below.
Forget About Enlightenment
By John Welwood
Sit down wherever you are
And listen to the wind singing in your veins.
Feel the love, the longing, the fear in your bones.
Open your heart to who you are, right now,
Not who you would like to be,
Not the saint you are striving to become,
But the being right here before you, inside you, around you.
All of you is holy.
You are already more and less
Than whatever you can know.