It was a dark and stormy night.
I’ve always wanted to start a piece that way. Of course, I’m stealing it from Snoopy, who in his guise as a World Famous Author always began the story he was writing with those words.
In a more serious vein, Madeline L’Engle began A Wrinkle in Time with that line, although it is generally agreed that she was somewhat winking at the audience as she did it. It had already been a cliche for a long time by then.
But yet, right now, it IS a dark and stormy night. At least, it is here, as I sit down to write this.
Some days, the words just don’t come. As I sat down to write this, I just learned that there has been yet another school shooting, where 14 students and their teacher are dead. I don’t have anything to say about that. Even the standard platitude of “thoughts and prayers” is hollow, as there is something deeply hypocritical about praying for a problem you are unwilling to solve.
And that is just one example. A week ago there was a racially inspired shooting, where 10 folks died in the grocery store. And COVID has killed a million of us here in the US alone. And inflation is pinching us and lots of folks are barely making it and meanwhile, billionaires travel in space for fun.
I want to write an angry post right now. I would feel better, and you would share it and nothing would change except that my blood pressure would be higher. That sort of anger almost killed me once, and I’m no longer willing to sacrifice myself or my health to make people on the internet like me.
* * *
The air conditioner went out in my house yesterday. AC repairs always scare me, because most AC work requires specialized tools, and the repairs tend to be expensive and so when I need AC work done it stirs up fears around money and career choices I have made and drags up all of the old anxieties I had hidden away when life was going well.
Last night I sat on my deck (because it was hot and stuffy in my house) and heard frogs having a party in the new frog pond I’m building, and the sounds of frogs singing and the water bubbling soothed my anxieties and I slept a hard 7 hours, and woke up this morning to find frog eggs in my pond.
And then I went for my walk before it got hot, and I saw the flowers abloom and the neighbors waved and I came home and drank a cup of coffee made exactly the way I like it, and I sat on my deck and watched the water splash in the frog pond and I thought how fortunate I was, even if my AC didn’t work.
But then I called a man that someone in my network recommended, and he came out and fixed it quickly and it cost a mere $100 and I recognize that my community saved my bacon once again and I can leave my anxieties about money and careers and productivity on the shelf for now, to be examined later.
And that is where I am right now, on this dark and stormy night, enveloped by the pain of the world.
I believe it’s bad. I believe that our community can save us from all of this. And I believe we have to find the beauty and the joy that exists in the midst of it all if we intend to survive until it does.