I follow the same, excruciatingly predictable pattern, almost daily, traveling from home to work, to home, to mom’s, to home, like a migrating bird, I wonder when my wings will fail? “When you are on a merry-go-round you miss a lot of scenery,” says Neil Diamond. Although I take the same damn roads, I remain neutral, aloof to my surroundings. Sometimes traffic forces me to stop, it’s like being stuck in an elevator, I’ll glance around just to avoid making eye contact with my fellow travelers.
“Birds born in a cage think flying is a disease.” Alejandro Jodorowsky
Today I not only notice a new homeless encampment on Southwest beside the light rail tracks, but on the same expressway, where the old White Front used to be, a new housing development is springing up. The simultaneous construction of housing for humans living worlds apart yet across the street from each other gives my heart a savage twist. I feel guilty about not feeling guilty enough, like there is an acceptable degree of guilt, and I’ve fallen behind. Or my heart is hardened to the suffering of others, because I’m so focused on my own issues. Major ouch.
“Who has not sat before his own heart’s curtain? It lifts: and the scenery is falling apart.” Rainer Maria Rilke
Who doesn’t want a more picturesque life? Maya Angelou said it best, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” She did have a way with words. I shouldn’t wait for life to happen, maybe it’s time to take an alternate route, infuse my life with something new. I think I’m feeling a little thrown because I recently failed my breast exam. It’s not like you can prepare for such a thing, it just happens.
I follow the nurse in the bright pink pants down the hall, my little bolero jacket flapping in the breeze, carrying all my belongings like a homeless person. I’m aware of the irony. While I wait on the examination table for the doctor to arrive, my imagination goes into overdrive, why did I wait ten years to have my tits examined, now I’m going to die. I’m running naked though dark corridors of thought and I can’t find a way out.
By the time the chipper doctor arrives I’ve planned my entire funeral. She smiles, “let’s take a closer look here,” she moves this twelve inch square block of light across the suspicious breast for a few minutes, adjusting the screen so I can see the image, it reminds me of my daughters ultrasound last month, when I gazed in amazement at two perfectly formed human babies swimming in her womb. This is not helping.
She finally lifts the screen and says, “you’re fine, it’s a minor infection, and will heal on it’s own.”
“What, I’m not going to die?”
She laughs, “Not today, it’s caused by your cycles, very common.”
“I retired the bike, I’m not cycling anymore.”
“Giving up coffee (she points to the cup glued to my hand) helps calm down the cycles, but they never stop.”
Now I’m laughing (it might be called hysteria), “My relationship with coffee is eternal, (no one separates what God has put together), maybe I’ll just add some cream.”
I leave with a pink foil wrapped piece of dark chocolate, an appointment for next year, and some articles about the importance of regular breast exams. Now I feel guilty about not feeling guilty enough about my breasts. Turning down an unfamiliar street, I park, and pray. Love is most necessary when we are weak, in need, and our most vulnerable. Next I’m heading to Starbucks…
When Larry got home I held up one image. We got in the car and headed to the lake…love a man who can read the signs.
“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” Interpretive translation of Talmudic Texts