I had an entire post written about my thoughts to introduce Traction to the Olympic Committee and then I hit the wrong key and puff……it’s gone. Yet, I’m still here, sitting in traction, Olympics or not. The fingers are not full of energy today to attempt typing it again so I’ll just say, watch out four years…..only thing, is it a winter or summer event?
The first time I knew I was doing it I was driving on the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago, Illinois. I knew I was being judged for my out-of-state plates and I was judging right back the rattling, rust machine that was plugging along in front of me. I wanted it to move over, get out of my way, I had somewhere to be, somewhere obviously far more important than them I selfishly assumed. Besides I thought if I didn’t pass them I justified for the folks driving behind me either drive in my trunk or leave me in the dust. There are just some highways in this world you must have your stuff together or get the heck out-of-the-way!
I realized today I was doing it again, a shiny newer car passed me and I thought, wow, I want to follow them, they know where they’re going, they can predict traffic patterns, they know which lane will keep moving in rush hour, they will get me to where I’m going on time if I follow them. It’s time for me to come clean. I car profile, I driver profile too. We often sum things up by appearance and as much as don’t want to admit it, I do it too, everyday. If I see temporary tags I think they must be too new to the vehicle to know how to properly operate it so I pass ’em. If I notice someone’s plates are geographically more than two states away from the state I’m currently driving in, get out of my way, slow poke alert, must be lost or on vacation, either way, going no where fast enough for me.
But if the car is nondescript and also in my way, then does anything I consider weird or dangerous that’s when I go beyond the car and look inside. If the person looks like they posed for their driver’s license photo yesterday I’m frankly a little afraid of them and if they’re all silver-haired, I’m afraid of them too. Just to be clear, it’s not ok what I’m saying, it’s not pretty, it’s not kind, it’s not what I want to say that I do but I do it probably everyday. I’m a profiler and I don’t work for the FBI. I see a woman driving a van full of children I’ll straighten up in my seat, tighten my hands to the wheels and consciously drive “safer.” Anybody spending their time smoking and driving, I think their not only filling their lungs with some bad stuff but I think they might make a wrong turn and suddenly hit the brakes in front of me but yet a cab driver in my rear view mirror is some secret challenge I have within that I don’t want passing me.
Oh yeah, and I don’t like seeing anybody wearing a hat when they drive, seems to me it blocks the vision, oh, unless it’s subzero outside and the hat wearing is because of the temperature, but then I begin to wonder shouldn’t the inside of the car be warm enough now. Ok, just to reiterate, winter hats are ok, everything else, nope, unacceptable in my book of what is right and wrong with cars and drivers. Also, don’t drive a convertible anywhere near me, you make me nervous and I think you are a distracted driver thinking about the weather and how you look driving your convertible. If you drive a motorcycle and don’t wear a helmet I want to pull you over and ask you what kind of health insurance coverage you have. If you drive with your windows down when it is raining I want to get away from you because I’m afraid your car is unsafe and about to combust in flames or something awful because that must be why you have to keep the windows open. Please, and don’t get me started if I see an animal in the car or a tractor-trailer full of livestock you are dead to me, I am convinced at any second the dog/cat/pig/etc. will grab the wheel and plunge a lane full of cars over an embankment.
I’m nuts, I admit it, I sit in traffic and judge. I actually think if the car appears newly washed it seems like someone less likely to cause an accident. If the car already has a dent in it I check to see what the speed limit is because I want to get away from it asap. My condition worsens the longer I sit in traffic. I have no excuse, I’m just the crazy person that sits in TRACTION so she can feel her fingers and retain her independence to drive at the same time the worlds’ worst driver and deadliest vehicle must be right next to me today in TRAFFIC. Yep, makes total sense.
I feel cool. I’ve watched many a gardening show and dreamt of having the skill and know how to take care of a little patch of beauty. I’ve tried here and there and have had moments of glory but Mother Nature and her elements have not always been my friend. All of my gardening mishaps have led me to appreciating the first signs of Spring in potted tulips and hyacinths growing in gardening centers. Rarely have these beauties made it to my table if they were growing in my yard. They’ve either been snacks for chipmunks or killed by late frost. I’ve just not had a lot of luck with growing bulbs. I know, every other yard displays them, looks easy to accomplish, but if I want to see blooming early spring bulb plants I need to buy them at the garden store or walk to the neighbor’s house.
But this year is a new year and I’m growing things indoors! Paperwhites adorn my desk and fill the room with a lovely fragrance that has me wondering where I am! I’m waiting any day now for the daffodils to pop. Who knew you could grow such beauty in the tiniest of spaces indoors? Here’s all I did: I placed the bulbs in a brown bag for a couple of days or maybe a week, at the first sign of root growth I set them in shallow wide container and surrounded them with a few pebbles or small decorative rocks. I then covered the rocks with water, I’ve consistently keep the water over the roots but have been careful not to ever completely cover the bulbs, add water as needed. Voila, then the most amazing third grade science project happens right in your tired winter home! Forcing bulbs indoors is easy and fun and if it works you look like a master gardener and if it doesn’t I’m not telling.
Spring is coming, hope grows right before my eyes. Old dreary traction is surrounded by a lovely scent and pushing toward a new day.
(Bonus, if you bought that bag of bulbs in the Fall and never got around to planting them here’s your answer, it will look like you planned it that way all along) Good Luck and a special thank you to Mary M. for her introduction of the idea into my life!
Here we are as February is coming to a fast end, two months will soon be over in 2012. I’m going to sound old, heck, I feel old while I’m sitting here hanging in traction but time always marches on, ready or not. It seems I just decided what I was giving up last year for Lent and now I’m in the midst of another. Last year I tried this sort of funky thing where instead of giving up something I told myself I’d do more. I tried to study more, pray more, give more, do more, you get the idea, the things that were difficult I tried more, not less. It sort of fundamentally sounded like it went against the sacrificial aspect of Lent but it truly was supposed to be a penance to do “more of” the things I didn’t like or at least, felt like the things that didn’t like me.
That was too complicated in the end so I’m going traditional this year, I’m just trying to show up for Lent, I’m going to try to remember it’s Lent. When I want to go to the drive thru to pick up something quick and easy to eat I’m going to try to remember I do have food at home and I can eat that when I get there. When I want something I’m going to try to remember my little girl friend in the orphanage in Port-au-Prince that would literally find a crumb on the floor and instead of gobbling it down she would divide by however many others were in the room. A small child and she knew more about sharing and giving of herself than I’ll ever know. This might sound selfish and delusional but traction it seems to me is like Lent, it is about showing up, remembering, completing the task at hand, no room for BS, no forgetting, no I’m too tired, no I don’t feel like it, no, it’s not fair. In addition, Lent is doing what you said you’d do but not making a big deal about it, or as my Mom would say, “no broadcasting it.” There’s no need to go on about saying no thanks to dessert, passing on seconds or giving up the fancy morning coffee. Lent is being out there on your own, no fuss, no frills, no extras, no pity parties, real life stuff, just you and God. AND, the last time I checked there wasn’t any chocolate growing in the desert.
Yep, I’ve not found sacrifice a bowl full of fun but if you stick with it you do find something new. I owe Lent for any ability I have to sit here in traction, the more I grow to understand Lent the easier the traction gig is for me. When it comes down to it really, isn’t it just about taking away life’s distractions and excuses, learning more about your true self, therefore, knowing more about God.
I’ve been thinking about a person today that went about his life doing what he thought was expected of him. He was the kind of individual who’s always there to help you but you rarely see him, he’s quiet and in the background and seems to prefer it.
He’ll open a door for you and carry your groceries up the steps, before you have a chance to know he’s even there. He’ll make sure everyone is safe and accounted for, he magically appears at your car to carry the heaviest thing and drop it at your door without even knowing you wondered how you would even get it out of the car. He’ll water your plants and clean up the yard, he knows who belongs and who doesn’t.
The world might ignore someone as them, we seem to care about other things. There will always be someone more educated, smarter, with plenty more money, but I dare you to find a harder worker and someone who did their job any better.
The person I’m thinking about is no longer living, he died in the earthquake two years ago in Haiti. Alix was his name and if you haven’t ever known a man like I’ve described then you’re at a great loss. Alix would suddenly make a five gallon jug of water appear at your door early in the morning when you were still sleeping and he somehow remembered that you were running low. He did this all the while he had a large growth on his back the size of a grapefruit that he couldn’t afford to have removed. He’d watch the court-yard at night as everyone slept and somehow managed to work his job all day keeping everything going. Alix also had a family and when he did take a break from work he was there for them, from my understanding that is how he died. He had survived the initial quake but ran home to check on his family and died in the aftermath as a wall collapsed on him. He bled to death in his yard.
The world needs more Alix, a man who would answer the community telephone, track you down, all the while doing his best to try to understand a language he didn’t speak so you could talk to your family you were so missing in the States. I’m sitting here in traction Alix thinking about you and what a wonderful man you were and all these days after your death you are still very much missed.
Did you ever think about your appliances, large and small, having personalities of their own? I think my washing machine is lazy, the dryer is maniacal, toaster is short-tempered, the refrigerator is loud and never cleans up after itself and please, don’t even ask about the garbage disposal! As far as I know they have not come alive, I’m not Dwight K. Shrute, I don’t believe in robots and zombies taking over the world.
I’m just sitting here in cervical traction and thinking about how each of these household appliances takes an explanation for operating instructions, beyond the manufacturers’ recommendations. The washer seems to have a favorite cycle and if you ask for more than that you risk a Zumba dance recital in the laundry room. The dryer works over time, you have a heck of a time shutting it off, the toaster is feisty, cinnamon toast is beyond its job description, it seems everything has issues.
If I tried a house swap like in the movie, The Holiday between Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet characters I’d have to leave a dozen special directions. (I was always taken out of the moment with that movie because I couldn’t imagine being organized enough to turn my place over to a stranger in 24 hours!) I’ve often thought about renting out my place or letting a friend stay here while I stay with family; come to think about it I’m not sure how much of a headache I’d be leaving them. Maybe I’ve created these problems by not being more pro active with these silly machines. Calling in repair folks or just replacing them at the tenth sign of trouble. Yet somehow I’ve slowly accepted their faults, maybe I like knowing that in order for something to work you have to really “know it” or as my Mother would say, “sweet talk it.” There are people in our lives we have to “sweet talk” every so often and sometimes I have to “sweet talk” my own body to get it to do what I need it to do. In the morning I have to give myself a pep talk, to get these bones moving. I get tired of my body hurting and on a cold morning like this I am very tired of “managing pain” but maybe as a result I give more allowances when it comes to dealing with everything else in life. I realize nothing is perfect and I’ve not seen anything in a long time that even comes close, we all have weaknesses, we all could do a better job, some one is always there to point out another’s faults. Maybe not operating smoothly builds creativity, patience and cooperation in ways we’d never have guessed.
Trying to find the bright side today of waking up with swollen, stiff fingers, this after traction, traction, traction, oh, but I really like my stove!
As I’m sitting in traction today waiting for the last few minutes to pass I begin to think about how silly it is that I’m impatient with time passing slowly. December 7th, the date that should “live in infamy” has just passed for another year, this year marked 70 years. I heard it mentioned a couple of times on the news but certainly not in any conversations I had with others. I suppose in 70 years September 11th will quietly pass as well. Those that are still alive that lived thru it will never forget, but will future generations remember?
Reading how men tapped on the steel of ships the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor causes my own embarrassment as I wait out a few minutes. Those heroes were among the first to die waiting in sunken ships for help that would arrive too late, or as in the case of the USS Arizona could never arrive. It is unimaginable to me to comprehend the fear and horror of being trapped alive. The sinking of the Arizona killed twenty-three sets of brothers.
This life for unknown reasons will have moments filled with such agony for some and their families and for others, they will gratefully or otherwise never know of anything more inconvenient than a traffic jam. My thoughts and words feel very inadequate today as I remember those that died at Pearl Harbor. Courage, fear, faith, forgiveness, honor, respect, peace, hope……all these words are better understood when we remember.