"I was, in fact, homesick for wildness, and when I found it I knew how intimately - how resonantly - I belonged there. We are charged with this - all of us. For the human spirit has a primal allegiance to wildness, to really live, to snatch the fruit and suck it, to spill the juice." - Jay Griffiths, Wild: an Elemental Journey

Saturday, December 15, 2012

WTF, Comet?

Geminid over the Mojave Desert
(Photo credit: Wally Patchoika)

December 14th was a very strange day.

I tossed and turned all through the preceding night with nightmares, confusion, sweating and chills, like a dark, night fever.  I woke up an hour earlier than I had planned to, at the time I later learned that the Connecticut shooting had begun.

Something was wrong.  I could feel it.  I felt antsy and anxious, like I wanted to run from something but I wasn’t sure what from, or what to.  I felt suffering in my chest.  Heavy, quickly-moving suffering.

Part of it was the dread I had about going to my job.  Not at the Ugly Mug - I love it there - but at the farmer's house whom I'd been helping to move, clean, and organize.  I'd been going there several times a week to help him because he pays well and my few shifts at the Mug aren't enough, but every time I go, I leave feeling more drained of life.  I know it is not a positive environment for me for many reasons, yet I have been afraid to quit because I haven't been sure how else to make the money I need to set up my life in Santa Cruz.

But while the discomfort with which I awoke encompassed my employment and financial fears, it was much bigger than just that.  It was more than just me.  I was tempted to run from the feeling - cover it up with a rash decision or a technological distraction.

Then I remembered myself and chose to be concsious.  I meditated.  I prayed.  I said aloud to the room, “I am aware of this discomfort; this suffering.  I suspect this means that something is shifting.  Because I don't yet know what, I will take no action.  Help me to remain observant today.”

As soon as I walked in to work at the farmer's place, he began yelling.  At me, at the other workers, at anything.  I've seen him in foul moods before but never like this.  Never so unprovoked.  He spewed negativity in every direction like he was projectile-vomiting up his breakfast.  

One of the other workers yelled back.  I kept quiet.  I prayed.  I breathed deeply.  I decided that this was my sign.

As soon as he left, I said to the other worker, “I’m done here.  I’m not coming back.  I am choosing not to worry about the money - something else will come through.  If staying in Santa Cruz means working here, I’m not supposed to be in Santa Cruz.”

Less than ten minutes later, my mom called with two kinds of news.  First, she had just deposited enough Christmas money into my account (from both my parents and grandmother) to ensure that working at the farm any more this month would not be necessary.  Huge sigh of well-timed relief.

Second, she told me about the shooting in Connecticut.  About the dead children.  Dead.  Children.  WTF??

Shortly after hanging up with her, lost in a mixed haze of gratitude and grief, my phone rang again.  It was another coffee shop in the area with whom I had dropped off a resume a month ago (and since forgotten about), asking if I could please come in for an interview on Tuesday.

The moment I declared to the universe that I was letting the unhealthy farm job go, I became open for something else to flow in.  And it did.  And because I am dense and need the universe to smack me rather hard with things like this, it arranged for the phone calls to come directly after my declaration, which helped me put it all together.  Thanks, universe.

But the dead children.  There are still dead children.

Then another worker came in to the farm and said, "Hey did you guys see the meteor shower last night?"

"No," I said.  "I didn't even know there was one."

"Yeah, supposedly this time it carries dust from a comet that has never been part of the Geminid shower before.  Actually, Earth has never been through the dust of this comet before.  Ever."

Chills ran from the back of my neck down my arms.  What the hell, comet?  Seriously.  Knock it off.

When I decided it would be my last day at the farm, I wanted to finish the particular task I needed to get done to get paid and leave as fast as possible, even if it meant not stopping to eat or go to the bathroom. So I worked and worked and worked and just forgot to eat or pee.

I never said a word to the farmer about my plans never to return.  I simply took my day's pay and left.  Shaking and delirious with hunger and a full bladder, I drove to McDonald’s (yes, I was that desperate).  When I arrived, someone was in the bathroom.  For a long, long time.  He emerged when I went up to the counter to get my food, so I never saw him, which I think is best.  

Because when I got into the bathroom, there was a syringe and a piece of burnt out tin can in the trash.  He had been in there shooting up god knows what.

I hugged myself and looked around as though somehow, in this one-room bathroom, which I had just locked behind me, he was still there.  I stared at that needle.  I felt overwhelming empathy for his suffering, for the kind of life he must lead, which only added to the inexplicable suffering I had been carrying all day.

I made it home at last, so grateful for a place to sleep, for a car, for food, for any money at all, for being addiction-free, for not being dead, for not being the parent of a child who was now dead.

As the universe’s final hurrah on this crazy comet day, I checked my email one, last time before bed to discover an email from my husband.  (Yes, I still have a one, though I haven't seen him for over three months - since the day he left.)  After several angry communications from him over the past two weeks that have garnered no response from me, this one contained a completely un-prompted kindness.

Not because of that email, but because of the whole world of suffering and confusion and beauty and interconnection, I sunk to the floor of my borrowed room and wept.

I wept for the parents in Connecticut.  I wept for the people everywhere who had to say goodbye to someone they loved that day, whether or not the story made the evening news.  I wept for the junkies, and for the fact that I am no better than them, addicted to my own vices in my own ways.  I wept in gratitude for my own, beautiful life, and in sorrow for all the pain around me.

I wept myself to sleep that night, and slept much, much more soundly than the night before.

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