Thursday, January 14, 2010

Night Thought of a Tortoise

The world is very flat--
There is no doubt of that!
-E.V. Rieu

The above is one of my favorite poems. (That's it in its entirety - concise, isn't it?) What it highlights is how everything in your reality is determined by your perspective. Two people who look at the same point in space at the same time must - as determined by the laws of physics - be looking at that point from two different angles. They will not see the same thing. That does not change the thing at which they're looking, nor does it make it more than one point - but each viewer has a different experience. Your perspective is your reality.

Yesterday morning I woke up dreading the looming weekly three-hour commute. Not the commute to Summerville mind you, but the commute back to Greenville. (Those who may just be tuning in, I split my time between Greenville and Summerville, South Carolina - about three hours away from each other). I dread it because for the past nine and a half years I've been living in permanent shift. Everything I've done has been temporary. In the past year alone I've called three cities in two states my home, (you could almost add a city and state to that, but it only lasted three weeks) and each with the mindset that it was temporary. While in Rhode Island I thought we were eventually moving to Charleston. While in Summerville caring for my Dad I thought perhaps we would move to Savannah - and later Charleston - then later Greenville. And then I became single, and everything changed - again.

Prior to that I was in DC, thinking I would soon be back to Charleston (prior to moving to Rhode Island of course) and in Charleston I wanted to go to Atlanta or DC. In Summerville (for a brief while anyway) I wanted, and was even making plans, to move to St Thomas. And before that, I had hopes of returning to England for a while, and while in England I thought constantly of going home (until the end, when I wanted to stay).

It would suffice to say that I'm ready to settle. I'm ready to build my life in one place, and travel whenever possible. The travel would be temporary part, not my home. And I'm ready for that place to either be Summerville or Charleston, or somewhere in the half-hour drive in between. So I dread the early-morning back to my temporary Greenville home, and look forward to the return to my Summerville home, even though the home itself is temporary - at least it's closer to where I want to be.

So I woke up yesterday already thinking of the return commute, days ahead, to where I already was. I was even thinking about how innately silly that was, when I opened my laptop and saw the devastation of Port au Prince unfold before my eyes. Suddenly all thoughts of what I was missing had vanished. My stomach turned as I saw ruined square miles and people reporting bodies lining the streets.

Flashing back to 2005, I was annoyed with being in a basement room outside DC, in a job I hated, with a psychotic room mate, when I woke up to see New Orleans under water. Once again, my life seemed very much okay.

Back on September 11th 2001, I woke up aggravated that the dishes were piled in the sink, that my room mate had been getting on my last nerve for weeks, that I lived in a dodgy (at best) neighborhood, and I was managing a steakhouse and bar for restaurateurs who had only ever owned and operated a butcher shop (another blog some day maybe). That day I drove over to my restaurant to get my paycheck. I had no idea what was happening, and once I got to the restaurant, I even thought the kitchen staff was having a laugh at my expense. Once again, my worries were nullified by the realization of so much pain and suffering going on elsewhere. That afternoon and into the night I sat at a bar in downtown Charleston with my room mate (not the one who annoyed me) drinking beer and watching CNN.

I do not have it bad. In fact, I'm pretty damn lucky. My gratitude for what I do have is only fortified by the knowledge that disaster could strike at any time - right where I'm sitting, typing this blog. Charleston could be hit by another devastating earthquake while I'm down there. A landslide could happen in the mountains on one my drives while I'm in Greenville. A plane could crash into this neighborhood right now. Someone could bomb my hotel. My nieces, nephew, sister, Mom, Bio-Dad, friends, could all be stricken with severe illness. Those are my worst fears - and yet, right now, none of that is happening.

So here I am, in my room, typing on my laptop, on my bed, with warm air flowing through the vents. I cannot complain.

So this, the first of my Almost-Friday gratitude posts, is about the big things for which I'm grateful. It's about not being the tortoise on the lawn. It's about not waiting for the next calamity to remind me that I have so much.


Evil Twin's Wife said...

So true! We should never take anything for granted. :-)