Written December 29, 2016
It sounds dramatic, I know. I could use the word, “frayed” to describe my new reality. Think of a garment that has been ripped. The edges are now frayed. That word, however, is not quite right. What I see is a sail flapping in a harsh gust of a blast of breeze. Shredded. Obliterated. It’s my reality these days. I saw on my ride into the town signs that workers were on the job ahead. To the right I witnessed a crumpled telephone pole, collapsed near to the top. It still was able to hold the wires it was directing along the way, but soon it would not be able to hold on. Crumpled and collapsed is my reality.
It’s not just me. What used to be, is showing signs of shorning off. So often in this last year I have been engaged in a task, when it sweeps in like a rushing wind. Although I have done it before, it is a new way to me. I feel as though I was back in kindergarten, in grade school learning 1,2,3, ABC. I am a rookie. I have no idea what I am doing, though it is essential to appear competent. I am in my first year of a new career, only I wasn’t taught the way it should line up, link in.
“Normal is coming unhinged. For the last eight years it has been possible for most people (at least in the relatively privileged classes) to believe that society is sound, that the system, though creaky, basically works, and that the progressive deterioration of everything from ecology to economy is a temporary deviation from the evolutionary imperative of progress.” So wrote the essayist Charles Eisenstein (“The Election: of Hate, Grief, and a New Story”). We are progressing all right: into something mostly unfamiliar to us.
Something like this happened the last time I lost a job I loved. I remember thinking then, what I thought I could count on, I can no longer drive on. That road just up and walked away. Now I must become an explorer, discovering a new land, strange, sometimes dark, unmarked. My friend calls it “bush whacking,” when you go off the trodden path and make one all on your own. I had to find out again who God is (what I can count on from him); who I was; and who all the rest were. Nothing was certain any more. The old normal was broken, disheveled, completely exhausted, done in. Normal unhinged.
An essay I was assigned in high school. “On the Road not taken,” by the poet Robert Frost. When we come to a cross road, which way do we head? The last lines lean this direction: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—/I took the one less traveled by,/And that has made all the difference.” I’ve a choice to make, it seems. Can I embrace this new normal? Can I view it as an adventure? Can I expand my reality, not shrink it? Can I find joy instead of regret?
As I lay this early morning in the place above where sleep falls, I realized that, just like that, a break through could happen, the sail can get mended, and something new could spring up, unlooked for, unknown. What used to be is no longer reality, and what can be could be way more beautiful than what was.