Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Silent Grace (Amidst the Chaos)

I've been trying to write this blog post for over a month now.

It started when Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared, and left the world with a profound and unsettling mystery. I didn't follow the news obsessively, but definitely more than I usually do. My brain just couldn't wrap itself around the idea of a jetliner vanishing in 2014, and apparently others have tried to explain The Obsession over missing flight MH370.

Then there was the massive and tragic mudslide in Oso, Washington, destroying homes and claiming 41 lives. There are still three people missing, and area flags still flying at half-mast.

I found out that my bees did not make it through the winter, putting my backyard death toll in the tens of thousands and a sad way to start the spring.

Shortly after that, my sister's car got stolen with her one-year old daughter inside. The police responded really quickly, and they found the car just seven minutes later with the baby still sleeping inside. Everything turned out fine, but it was shocking and scary and a reminder of how quickly life can change. It gave me an uneasy sense about things not always going as they should, and our helplessness to prevent catastrophic events.

The absolute worst recent news is a dear friend getting diagnosed with cancer. It was out of nowhere- she's a perfectly healthy young woman. Again, my brain just can't quite comprehend it. When I think about it, I'm more angry than anything, at the unfairness and randomness and plain stupidness.

Usually some who likes to talk about everything, I'm too mad and bewildered to find my own words helpful. But I do like to read other people's words. My friend Tessa Hulls just finished a solo bicycle trip in Ghana. From the road she wrote:

"There is no such thing as passive riding here: the whole day is spent ceaselessly watching the road and shifting my body weight and trajectory to weave my way through all the various obstacles, and sometimes I have no choice but to just swear loudly to myself and brace for impact. My bike is being an absolute trooper, though. Forward motion is meandering at best, and my progress more aptly resembles the loping curlicues of figure skating, only with less sequined V-necks, and with a hell of a lot more dodging of wayward goats. 

Two days ago, I had what was probably my favorite moment thus far. I was at the very end of my riding, and was just barely limping myself to the village I was trying to get to. Then, out of nowhere, a man in traditional Muslim attire (flowing robe, that hat I don't know the proper name of), starting bicycling alongside me. He joined me with a smile and a nod, and he had some sort of music-playing device tucked away somewhere in his robes, and it was playing the same song on repeat. He kept pace with me for about three miles, and we parted ways with him worldessly pointing to a small turnoff, and smiling one last time before branching off. Small moments of silent grace, friends. They're why I do this."

I'm not saying that it's been a terrible past month. There have been a lot of fun and wonderful times too. But it has just been a potent reminder of how we cannot control life, only our reaction to what happens. So I've been doing what I can to feel grounded. On my bike, moments of bliss before dodging a card door; hiking and panting up a wooded hillside; staring out the bus window instead of at my smartphone; checking how the greens are growing in the garden; the focused lines and hum of my sewing machine; big hugs, arms wrapped tight with no words; quiet tears and glass of red wine; cooking for friends, like this Shallot Chicken, letting a sauce reduce and watching in a daze as the sprig of tarragon wilts away. I don't know what else to do right now, and so I continue to move forward, even if it's meandering and unsettling, and find my own moments of silent grace.

1 comment:

Max said...

Sorry to hear about the bees! Spring is here and things will get better!