Day 11: Make It Happen Today

We still say our nightly prayer in our new (temporary) house, which we are beyond grateful to have secured. We do brushing, flossing, “final peep”, stories, then a kind of 1-2-3 lights out ritual. Then we hold hands in bed in the dark, me and Ax, or when Mike is home, the three of us, and we say, in unison-ish: “Universe, please reveal what there is to be revealed. Please heal what there is to be healed. Show me the way of patience, tolerance, kindness, and love for myself and for others, thank you very much.

“Gd, please grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change (everything not me), the courage to change the things I can (myself), and the wisdom to know the difference.

“Gd please help me be willing to let things be as good as they can be – as good as they are. Thank you for my life.

“Spirit is with me. Now.

And then Mike ads “Ja,” and sometimes Ax does too which I think is maybe some kind of Rastafarian thing for Amen or something. I still consider myself a kind of secular, agnostic Jew, and our family Jewish, with heavy Buddhist influences? Or maybe both? Plus I gotta say, some of my best friends are Christian and, you know, I am totally down with kindness and goodwill toward all and that kind of stuff they are into.

The thing is, truth is truth. There is something bigger than this earthly plane of existence and however you want to dress it up or ritualize it, go for it. The essence that keeps coming back is kindness. KINDNESS. Kindness to self and to others as a path to feeling … Whole? Good? Human?

And it’s like, kindness no matter what. The biggest, biggest of slack-cutting. Here you go – bing! Here you go – bing! You’re excused. You get a pass. I get a pass. We are all doing the best, the very best, that we can. I can’t control what your best is. I get to work on what mine is.

Patience, tolerance, kindness, and love to myself and to others. Thank you very much.

Okay, I’ve promised you a chronology of when it got real for me and it is quite a good story and I’ll get to it. Just so you know it was Thursday, January 11, at about 4:30pm

It’s now Friday, January 19, at about 5:44am, more than a week later, and I’m needing to get back to my normal real-time blogging thing rather than going historical. I have more to say than usual but the same if not less than usual amount of time to write. So the flow is bigger than the aperture through which it must flow. Which seems to be a theme right now, as the 101 freeway that passes by our house is still dammed up, flooded with water, that they cannot pump out as fast as it fills.

They are working on it. They are working on it. The scale of the job is unfathomable. The numbers, hundreds of millions of tons of mud (something like that?) and trucks that carry ten thousand tons – or pounds (?) each – I don’t know. I just thank Godfrey for the hundreds, seemingly thousands, of personnel and trucks and all that which have descended on our town.

I know two of the other schools in our town have found new facilities. The other public elementary school is relocated to the University, UCSB, which is maybe a half an hour, forty minutes North. And a very very different place from the bucolic, charming school they attended two weeks ago, after a many week break for fire evac and Winter break.

A friend of mine said, “I saw on TV all these little one-per center kids in their polo shirts getting back-to-school gifts like they were refugees or something.”

I snapped. I lost my patience, tolerance, kindness, and loving groove. I said, “They are refugees. They are suffering losses. Many of them have lost their homes. Many of them have suffered traumas you can’t imagine getting rescued out of the mudflow.

"Many of their parents or parents’ friends or friends’ friends have died. They are displaced from their homes and their school, indefinitely. If they have homes, they do not know when they will be able to go back to them. They are living families of four in single guest rooms for over a week now. They are living in hotel rooms.

"They don’t have their toys, their pets, their routines. Their pain is real. Their suffering counts. All suffering counts. Even the suffering of kids whose parents had a nice outfit to pack for their evacuation, or had one donated to them if they lost everything, or were able to go repurchase one.”

“I’m sorry,” she said. Which was the right thing to say. We are all having some survivors’ guilt or at least I’m not them guilt, and that’s okay, but as my regular readers know I’m a fan of gratitude over guilt. Getting into service rather than getting into worry and morbid self-reflection.

“I’m sorry too,” I said, because I was. We all need to be cut the biggest of slacks. Slack to her, slack to me, slack to you. This is, as my other friend’s insurance agent said, “Unprecedented.”

“What can I do? What can I do? What can I do?”

You can give money. Or just give to the Red Cross. You can take care of yourself and your family. You can (work on) practicing patience, tolerance, kindness, and love to yourself and to others. You can get on that quiet contemplation or meditation practice and send love and light to 93108 and to all people who are suffering everywhere without judging or ranking suffering.

You can send love and light to me, and to yourself, since you are a human being too and we human beings are complicated, sensitive creatures. We are all affected by the slide, because we are all connected as inhabitants of this earth. And I don’t judge your suffering as less than mine, or less than Ax’s dead friend’s mom’s, or less than anyone else’s. You are a person.

So. We privileged people, and if you are reading this you are more privileged than many, because, among other things, you can read.

So, we privileged people have not been placed in this position of privilege so we can feel shitty.

We have not been given whatever gifts we’ve been given so that we can be bummed out or grouchy. We who are privileged can be of service to others and in doing so we can find our higher selves. And we can, we must, do what we need to do to take care of ourselves first.

We can take a friend for coffee and listen to them. We can let a friend who needs to be of service take us to lunch. We can give someone the gift of letting them help us. We can take turns. We can stimulate the economy. We can get our hair done. We can give a loved one a foot massage. We can pet our cats.

We can hug our children and just sit with them quietly, patiently, not running around or pushing activities. Making space to just be until it feels safe enough, quiet enough, for the words, “I’m really sad about my friend,” to make their way out of their mouths.

“Yeah, sweetie. I am too. He was a really fun friend.”

“Yeah. He was a funny guy.”

“He was.”

“I liked him right away when I saw him.”

“I know. And he really liked you.”

“I know.”

Pause, wrapping hook dangling from Lego mini rescue helicopter onto bathroom drawer to make like it’s rescuing people.

“I asked daddy if I could have a play date with him.”

“I know. I’m sorry you didn’t get your play date. You got to play with him at school a lot though, right?”

“I did. Mom, can I leave my helicopter hanging down over night?”

“Yes you can. Let’s go, it’s time to brush, floss, peep, pick out books, snuggle.”

“Okayyyyyy okay okay!”  Happy, annoyed, wiggly, just like normal.

And the beautiful chaos of bedtime, getting ready for the next day begins, just like normal.

I’m gonna keep going.

Who have you been meaning to have a play date with? Consider calling that person today. Make it happen the easiest, fastest way you can. We all need each other.

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