Juxtapositions When Things Go Wrong

I’m driving home from the airport, thinking how surreal it is to is to have just driven there, taken the blue bus from long-term parking to terminal C, stood in line with others who thought they were Newark, NJ-bound until they saw the florescent blue “Canceled” under “Departures,” and after waiting a suitable amount of time, learned my fate. I would be flying to Newark tomorrow, through Cleveland, at a time that would necessitate waking before 5 a.m. I nodded, took the new ticket, and traced my so-previous steps back to the blue bus, the long-term parking lot, the car, the highway, and then the interstate.

As I drive, everywhere the sky is brilliantly blue. The storms — which flooded our basement from the bottom up — passed, right on to New Jersey, which is why the flight is canceled. The light is so clear that the green, every direction, glows. Yet there’s a dead deer near the medium of the interstate. Yet there’s outrageous waves of construction, which slops the line of cars I’m in to at times. Yet when I called Ken, he told me he was at a light in Lawrence that went out, and every direction he looked, electricity was off. Yet my son is in a job interview at this moment in a place with no lights.

The easy is juxtaposed with the hard all over this weekend. We spent hours last night soaking up water in towels, squeezing those towels into buckets, and hauling out 50-something buckets of water. The night was silky beautiful, one of those just lightened up and cooled rare summer night when the humidity doesn’t beat up everything in sight. Being our habit when faced with sudden stress (and don’t old habits die hard?) we juxtaposed screaming at each other about the way to clean the basement with laughing, hugging, and joking about how we needed to clean the basement and get new carpet anyway.

Everywhere I look, all the time if I were paying attention, there are these juxtapositions, these “how-can-that-be?” buddied up with “thank-heavens-for-this.” Right before I went to the airport, I was paging through Buddhist Sylvia Boostein’s book Happiness is an Inside Job. I was caught by a comment from the Dhammapada, a compilation of sayings attributed to the Buddha: “Anyone who understands impermanence, ceases to be contentious.”

Meanwhile, there’s power outages, little floods in our basement and huge floods that cover over 40 square blocks in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, just northeast of here. There’s canceled flights and big, open, shining skies. There’s roadkill outside and lovely air-conditioning inside. There’s also occasional moments like this when I find myself immersed in empty, alive time; hours not planned into any one thing or place anymore. All impermanent, and in pausing, observing this constant passage of weather, change of plans, and wide skies between the airport and my house, I realize there is no need to drive myself crazy over any of this. All I need to do is drive myself home.

One thought on “Juxtapositions When Things Go Wrong

  1. Lord have Mercy! You’ve really been through some wild times lately! Here’s to a smooth, safe flight, a dry as a bone basement and as many hugs as you can stand. You deserve it!

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