Today started off hard. I was awakened before my alarm, and it all sort of snowballed from there. By 1:00 I was sitting at the kitchen table paying bills and working to fix several mistakes / oversights / messes caused by my recent inability to focus and/or complete tasks / thoughts / sentences. I stopped to stare at my facebook feed for a while, and there was a post from Anne Lamot:
"I have been having a hard time, full of struggle, awful things happening to people I adore, even me. But I knew the plates of the earth were shifting when I dreamed this morning that a friend and I shot and killed her evil husband. We thought it was a perfect crime, except it turned out I'd left my purse there.
Because the small brown paper bag miracle is that I got my sense of humor back, about the truth of who I am: hilariously screwed-up. I seem to be, and strive to be, an incredibly kind, generous lovebug. But I am--and i bet you are--the tiniest bit more complex.
I know I have a murderous streak in me. We are a violent species. Cain is still killing Abel. I get mine from DNA, the culture, and my mother. She was a short, plump Englishwoman with huge brown eyes, which could turn pinpointed and black when she went into self-righteous trance. I got my brains from her, but also my black belt co-dependence, and tiny, tiny control issues. These always lead to suppressed fury.
Once my beloved Jesuit travel companion Tom Weston was crunching ice so loudly that it got on my nerves. i asked this man of Christ's love, "Why do you do that?" He replied, "Rage."
So that is a part of the mix, our dark scary shadow. But so is this:
A recent day had been horrible in every possible way, beginning with nightmarish weather, very sick friends family feuds; ending with my doctor's nurse forcing me onto the scale, although I was puffed up like a grampus after a run in with full-sodium soy sauce. Then my '59 VW broke down on our main boulevard.
I was able to glide halfway out of the lane, so now there were one and a half functioning lanes during high traffic. Everyone honked. What a great feeling. It was such a final straw that I got a small miracle. Instead of it breaking the camel's back, I started to laugh.
Then I said the fourth great prayer: "Please, God, fix my car."
I turned the key. Click click silence. But they say when all else fails, follow instructions. Or, as my pastor said when I was fearfully headed on a plane 10,000 miles away, "When you step onto a plane, it's a little late for beggy prayers. It's time for trust and surrender." So I sat there mostly believing that she was right. Cars honked. I remembered a sober woman with oral cancer, who'd lost part of her tongue, and was on chemo, nonchalantly telling some sober friends, "I'm not worried. God's got it."
So I sat there fingering a medallion I wear around my neck, that says, "God's got it."
Then, Knock knock knock, a man was knocking on my car window, in the pouring rain, making the universal sign of "Roll down your window." I did. He asked if I needed a push. I asked him if he worked for God. He said that he didn't know about that, but he tried to. I took off my handbrake, and he rolled me to the side of the road. He asked if I was out of gas. I said there was no way. There is no gas gauge in my old car, so I keep excellent records. I could prove I had gas, I announced, getting out my gas log. He waved off my effort. Then he set about fixing my car.
Well, if you have one more minute, I will tell you the excruciating truth: he tried to jumpstart me, although the clicking indicated the battery was fine. He pushed my car really fast, so I could throw it into 2nd gear, and get it started. It started, and died.
He opened the back where the engine is, blew on the spark plugs, tugged on other things in a mysterious manly way, asked again if I might possibly be out of gas. I got my gas log out of the glovebox, and showed him self-righteously that I had bought ten gallons, but had only used 5. (My mom was a lawyer.)
He went and got his iPhone, and turned its flashlight beam into my gas tank. "I don't see any," he said, rather apologetically. "We could go to my house and get a gas can. I live nearby." Hah! Like I was born yesterday! Like I don't know that this is a classic modis operandi of serial killers. But I was exhausted, and exhaustion is usually the beginning of wisdom and change. So I decided to practice trust and surrender. I got in his truck and we drove to his house, where got his gas can from his too-neat, Dexter garage, and he treated me to two gallons of gas at the local gas station. He poured it in my tank. The VW started right up. We hugged and kissed and I did a crazy Wavy Gravy dance of gratitude, right there on the road, for everyone to see. Then I filled up my tank, which had been bone dry, Ezekiel and the valley of the dry bones dry; despite my excellent records.
Beauty and mess go hand in hand. The Good can look like a sunrise, or like the winner in an Ugliest Dog contest, all Dr. Seuss spots of hair, and buck teeth. This goodness is the only thing that can ever save us. It is what grace looks like, this unmerited, freely given spiritual WD-40. Grace means that love is bigger than any dark weird shit life can throw at you, or even that we can throw at our nutty, tender, worried, exuberant, baby selves. All truth is paradox. For instance, I miss my mom; and she is also right here."
Just reading this particular post caused the tears that have floated just behind my eyes 24 hours a day for the past several weeks to come gushing forward. They brought their best friend Uncontrollable Sobbing with them. Heeding my mother's recent advice that 'sometimes you just have to cry until you can stop', I just went with it. I cried while I removed my eye makeup and pinned my hair back. Then I cried while I filled the bathtub, added some bath oil, gathered my kindle, towel and robe and got in. By the time I settled in, I was pretty much done crying, so I just read until I could coax myself out of the tub.
I just keep hearing "When you step onto a plane, it's a little late for beggy prayers. It's time for trust and surrender." I know that it's time. I know that. What I don't know is how to do either. I am a control freak at the end of her leash - barking at everything that moves past me. Completely unable to influence any of it. So, what do I do? Cry some more? Poke at my demons with a stick? Shout my (unasked-for) opinions until somebody does what I say? I dunno.
What I DO know is that I now have 20 minutes until my daughter steps off the bus and the merry-go-round starts turning at full speed again. Just enough time to fold laundry and wash dishes. Yay.
Here, hold this for me, will ya?