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
I also feel guilty about not feeling guilty about my derogatory thoughts about the rain. I know, I know, we all sent up a collective plead, and apparently God heard us. For the love of God stop praying, she is notorious for making rash judgments, now we live in ‘soggy’ California, and no longer need our stockpile of sunscreen. I’m ordering a case of repellent, with all this stagnant water I’m sure the mosquitos are making travel arrangements, and we’ll be dealing with the zika virus next. “When it rains, it pours (Morton Salt).”
“God saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time…God regretted that he made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled…The waters flooded the earth for one hundred and fifty days.” Genesis 5
I feel guilty about not feeling guilty about every second of free time I eke out of my week. Like this afternoon, when I arrived home from work to a completely empty house. Did you hear me? THE HOUSE WAS COMPLETELY EMPTY.
This is such a rare occasion I have to revel in the moment by cranking up a little Shelby Lynne, warming a cup of old coffee, and wondering from room to room with absolutely no purpose. I crave things in short supply and the house to myself is one of them. It gives my thoughts room to roam, it was probably the warning sign posted outside my son’s bedroom door, but I found myself contemplating road signs. The ones that tell you there’s a passing lane ahead, dead-end, no left turn, do not enter, wrong way, yield, merge, stop, bump in the road, or detour. They are so applicable to life don’t you think? I should save the images on my phone so I can hold them up when words are inadequate. The signs that point out the scenic routes are my favorite.
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.
The nurse, who only moments ago squeezed my boob into a pancake, came marching back into the room, where I was naked from the waist up, casually checking my social media accounts. Honestly, I was avoiding all the breast exam posters plastered around the room, warranted guilt is relentless. She (the nurse, not the guilt) said, “We need to move you down the hall, the doctor wants to do a ultrasound, there is something of interest on your right breast.” I couldn’t help myself, “How interesting?” She smiles, “Well since it’s been over ten years since you’ve had an exam we don’t have a baseline.” That shut me up as I cupped my right breast with my free hand. It feels fine to me?
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 through 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 its 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
A version of this post was previously published on CherylOreglia and is republished here with permission from the author.
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