Sunday, June 14, 2020

A Pool, a Piano and a Painting

The times have a way of changing what one thought was important, once upon a time. Now, more than ever, the highly charged and emotional turmoil we find ourselves immersed in has illuminated abstract concepts, like legacy, fairness and respect. Along with more mundane things, like a pool, a piano or a painting.

When I was younger and restarting my life, there were influences that compelled me to seek happiness, and peace, in both the practicable and the quixotic dimensions. I’m only human, just like the rest of us. And the notion that I could construct a fulfilling American life presented itself to me amidst the fog of longing for peace, love and family. Little did I know that road was pocked with landmines for one’s resources and one’s heart.

First it was about a swimming pool. We “had” to have one, because the 17% interest rate on the mortgage went down to 13.25%. Hence, we had a surplus of leftover cash in which to be able to afford one. Mind you, the note on a $65,000 home with a change of 3.75% resulted in a monthly saving of $200 (but who saves at 28?). That was a huge note. But “we” had to have a pool. Eventually I sold the house and moved. That’s how I got out of that.

Then it was a piano. And not just any piano. A baby grand piano. Another $4,700 dollar loan and monthly payments. For a piano that sat in a living room that nobody “lived” in. Eventually I “loaned” the piano to a jazz musician friend. And that’s the last I saw of it. And another shackle was removed.

Then it was a painting. But not just any painting. No, it was from the “friend” who was one of the up-and-coming artists of our time in our town. So, another $3,000 plunked down, $100 a month until it was paid off. When it was, it left the wall with the person (that originally “needed” it) who left town to pursue more happiness. At the time, it seemed traumatic. Now, it just seems like folly, of which I was able to extricate myself from, and get on with my life.

All this to illustrate that we sometimes, if not often, think we must have something to make our life better, when, in reality, just the opposite will work and maybe even be an improvement.

It is desire? Lust? What is it that drives us over the cliffs of longing? And now what is it? Do we really know? I think, deep down, many of us know what the right thing to do is. But how many of us will do it?

Looks like I’ve really strayed off the Italian wine trail this time. But is a review of a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo really something you need right now? Can it wait?

I was hanging out a shirt to dry yesterday. It was sunny and clear and hot. And I heard the sound of a sparrow hawk above me. It was catching the thermals. There were actually two of them, the usual couple that hangs out and lives nearby. I followed their movements, a little jealous of their freedom to fly. But also, so happy that these creatures had the freedom to play, not just make it through another day of surviving. And then I saw the mockingbirds, four or five of them, darting about and trying to clip the wings of the hawks. The hawks, while disrupted, didn’t let it mess up their day. They turned it into a way of making a different dive, and then catching another thermal. It was play with a purpose. And they could fly higher and faster. What could be better fun on a Saturday afternoon in the spring? They didn’t take it personally.

I’m starting to understand that when I go out. If someone isn’t wearing a mask, I could imagine that person is not mindful of the community in which they live. They are not wired for the collective good. Freedom, for them, is just that. For them. #AllAboutME. And the rest of us had better fly out of their way. Ok, I can do that. I can play with that. I was brought into the world of dance in college, I know the moves I need to make.

I will not make it personal. But I will make it intentional. Perhaps my world, all of our worlds, will get a little smaller. And if that is one of the byproducts of this era, then I must face it and accept it. Not utopian, by any stretch. But at its core, carbon-based life is stark and survival-driven. I will survive.

So, I didn’t need a pool, a piano or a painting. What I needed was resilience, awareness and perseverance. I must remember this every day now. I can do this. We all can, each in our own way. Good luck out there, the mockingbirds are swarming.

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