When Things Get Weird

May the grace of god be with you always in your heart
May you know the truth inside you from the start
May you find the strength to know that you are a part of something beautiful.
~Alexi Murdoch

The past few days have been weird. It started yesterday morning when I got to the gym for my yoga class–6:30 am and still dark out. There were police cars blocking off the road, and an ambulance was just pulling away. Apparently, a homeless man had been hit by a train. He was a known drinker, and he may have passed out or fell on the tracks, (sad postscript: his death has been ruled a suicide). I only mention his homelessness because that street is between a men’s shelter and a city park where many homeless people hang out during the day, and it’s not the first time there have been police and paramedics there, in fact it’s quite common. There are lots of fights and suffering and mess there, people without any where else to go.

The ambulance left without a passenger because it was a scene to be investigated, not a rescue. After yoga, people inside the gym and out on the sidewalk were trying to get a better look. The police had put up temporary barriers, but they weren’t hiding much, and if you looked just right, without trying very hard, you could see everything. I accidentally caught a glimpse of one tennis shoe and looked away. It’s the third homeless person to die in that area, in full view of the gym, in the past as many years. It always throws a shadow over the space, over the rest of the day, (as it should). Every time I hear a train whistle, sadness washes over me. It’s a pitiful sound anyway, but this death, lonely and needless and brutal, now adds to the melancholy.

May the grace of god be with you always in your heart
May you know the truth inside you from the start
May you find the strength to know that you are a part of something beautiful.

I left work a little early because the sky was turning dark and getting noisy, and I knew that big thunderstorms were predicted. Eric had emailed that he was taking the dogs to Lory State Park (there was a break in the weather midday), which I would have argued with because of the storms in the forecast, but he was already gone by the time I knew. I expected him to be back when I got home, but I pulled up to my house, with its empty driveway, just as the rain started.

And then, it started to pour, thunder and lightning, and eventually hail. The rain was coming down so fast it was spilling over the edges of the gutters, the downspouts gushing water and leaves. At one point, the thunder sounded for at least five minutes straight. The streets started to flood, and still no Eric. I did every stupid, mindless chore I could think of to distract myself–sorted, folded, and put away laundry, straightened up, swept, made the bed. All I could think of was him and the dogs stuck up in the park somewhere, exposed, Dexter unable to handle the downpour so reverse sneezing, nose bleeding, Eric struck by lightning, Sam frantic and lost–every awful scenario I could think of. Just as I was thinking “should I take someone with me or just drive up there by myself and try to find them?”, Eric called and said he was parked under a tree not far from the house, had to pull over because it was raining so hard he couldn’t see, that he’d be home in just a few minutes. The storm hadn’t hit up at the park, they’d only gotten a little rained on towards the end of their hike, and he was surprised how bad it was in town.

I was so happy to see them. To have everyone home and safe. Once the rain stopped, I looked outside, and there was a double rainbow.

May the grace of god be with you always in your heart
May you know the truth inside you from the start
May you find the strength to know that you are a part of something beautiful.

Eric had to leave at 5 am this morning to drive to Pueblo for a conference. It was going to be a long day for me until he got back home, taking care of the dogs, working, teaching. On our walk this morning, in the darkest dark, there were people on the porch of a house down the road making weird sounds, ones that I at first thought were an animal. I thought they were fighting, then I thought maybe they were doing something nicer (and naughtier), but once we got close enough, I realized that one was really heavy, using a cane and possibly hurt, and the other was trying to get her in the front door, but having trouble. I couldn’t help because I had the dogs, but something about it stayed with me, made me think about all the private suffering that goes on in the dark, things we never know about, struggles and accidents we may never see. I worried for the thousandth time about Eric being on the road for three hours, wished and prayed that he’d make it there safe, make it home safe, in the same moment knowing so many others wouldn’t.

Later in the morning, I noticed that Dexter had another hot spot, that he’d licked a patch on his leg raw. For four years in a row, this time of year, he’s done the same, but last year he didn’t. Last year was the year he started to sneeze instead, and now there’s the maybe might be probably but we don’t know for sure fatal nasal tumor. Something about the hot spot made me worry, but was also oddly comforting–this is what he does every year, this time of year, and he is doing it again–the same routine, one more year. And then Sam came into the kitchen, limping, holding up his right foot, hurt. Seriously?

But later, both dogs were fine, lying in the grass, the warm sun, relaxing. All morning, I kept thinking, “This too shall pass.” All of it–life, time, worry, panic, joy, all of it arising one moment and dissolving the next.

Later, in my office before I went to teach, I felt raw and sad and tired. I closed the door and stood in mountain pose facing my wall of windows. On the other side of the glass was a tree that had turned bright gold in the past week, behind that was fluffy white clouds and blue sky, and below, CSU people walking and talking and laughing and suffering. In the background played Alexi Murdoch’s song Something Beautiful. I stood still, but strong, broken but whole, letting the tears roll down my face, holding my heart open.

I don’t know what any of this means. I want to think that it means something, like maybe I am a part of something beautiful.

May the grace of god be with you always in your heart
May you know the truth inside you from the start
May you find the strength to know that you are a part of something beautiful.

7 thoughts on “When Things Get Weird

  1. Sue Fox

    You are part of something beautiful, you are beautiful. I’m finding the more I become aware of what is going on around me the more sensitive I become, the more pain I feel. Each day has it’s own share of pain and beauty, I feel and see it all so clearly, I think it is called living fully.

    Have a good weekend. x

    Reply
    1. jillsalahub Post author

      Yes, Sue! Exactly. It’s so funny that I turned to things like yoga and meditation and writing to ease my suffering, only to realize too late that they would open me up to more intense and sharp moments, things that hurt, were terrible, terrifying, and so brilliant and beautiful that I could barely stand to look at them directly, that I would become more and more vulnerable, sensitive. Yes, living fully. Wishing you a lovely weekend and much love.

      Reply
  2. Lindsey Mead (@lemead)

    I adore that song by Alexi Murdoch, and will have it in my head all day now – thank you for that. Everything’s connected, I think, and your observations just show me how open you are to it all. Which is beautiful (though occasionally painful). xoxo

    Reply
    1. jillsalahub Post author

      I would argue it’s more than occasionally painful, but even that can be beautiful in it’s own way, that awareness and connection–but I know you already know that. I love this song too, and rediscover it from time to time, and listen so many times in a row that it spontaneously arises in moments I most need it. Much love.

      Reply
  3. Melospiza

    I liked this post a lot. I need to do this more often – make a conscious effort to connect and feel connected, to be aware of the quietness and beauty and suffering all around me. Too often I’m just rushing around.

    Reply
    1. jillsalahub Post author

      Thanks. It gets complicated when you are rightfully busy, doesn’t it? Two kids (who are getting so big, how and when did that happen?!), your own writing and work, a home, a partner–sometimes you can’t help but have it rush by, sometimes I even will it to rush by, to hurry past the rough bits. Then something happens, like the loss of your sweet pup or a huge storm and you get snapped awake, and you notice, you feel e v e r y t h i n g.

      Reply

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