WE SUFFER MORE IN THE IMAGINATION THAN WE DO IN REALITY
Sure, but he didn’t live in my neighborhood. Actually my neighborhood rocks. It is a throwback to before the time when houses were built around garages that swallow up neighbors. Neighbors that I have experienced take your kids to school in a pinch, loan you a lawn mower, sit on your front porch and shoot the breeze, give you tomatoes, walk with you and overall look after each other from a close distance. Before I go on with the meat of this post, I believe the end of civility began when the homes stopped having front porches. We now know our neighbors cars, not our human neighbors. Mull that over your local Starbucks on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
I was suffering in the middle of the night
It was with trepidation and a little fear that I headed off my porch, coffee in hand, back to my grass alley where I made a left (the opposite direction of the all of my known neighbors) in an effort to discover the source of the noise that kept me awake on and off all last night….
It was around three last night, when one should be asleep, that I was woken by an odd humming noise. I had gleefully anticipated this particular night of slumber for days. It was predicted that the temps would be cool enough to open the windows. They had. I sleep much better with the windows open, as the choir of bug sounds and soft evening breeze soothe me into slumber. On top of that, I had taken a short evening walk. In addition I practiced my “restore, release and relax” yoga asanas on the front porch about an hour before bedtime. It was Friday and even though I would not be sleeping in, I knew that I would sleep deeply. That created anticipation of a pot of Crimson Cup’s Sumatra Mandheling to accompany a morning of writing which would produce not just content, but, surely, genius.
Then comes the odd humming noise coming my windows. It had to be originating from one of he two rentals on that end of my solid, working class, tree lined street. It is not uncommon in big cities in the U.S. to have stable neighborhoods populated by a couple houses that are occupied as nearly as quickly as they are vacated. Life in the big city. If the noise had originated from any of the half dozen known neighbors who I have in my phone and even trade house keys with, I could have texted the problem away.
I begin to suffer in my imagination
No such luck. As I lay awake, fully awake now, and listening, I knew that it had to be a motor of some kind. OK. Not a car motor but a generator or compressor of some kind. It was not as loud as said car motor, so I figured I could fall back to sleep to it’s compressing or generating. Right. It will have to stop generating or compressing soon. I redirected my thoughts for a time to a metaphysical exercise of visualizing a candle flame- a lot less taxing than counting sheep. I next tried some yoga breathing, letting the mattress of my bed rise up to meet my limbs and torso. That did not work. The compressing did not stop compressing. The generator did stop generating. I could not reclaim my sleep. A thought locomotive made a stop in my head:
I kick the suffering into high gear
“What if it is like this Sunday night before work? Or even tomorrow night. I have yoga tomorrow. I’ll be tired and that will be a mess. What if I stop doing yoga. My writing will go down the drain. I’ll be tired at work all the time. My job, home and all that I worked for are in jeopardy. I can creep under the cover of darkness to the power source of the generator and unplug it, damned the consequences. A bit of a stretch. I’ll call the police. But it’s not a 911 type call. Can’t someone else hear it and do something? Why me? If I can’t sleep then tomorrow will be waste. My productive Saturday gone. Whole weekend will be shot to hell. And my life disrupted forever…
Or, I could take my very real fears into the next room, empty for now, where the windows were open but facing away from the compressing generator, and fall back asleep. Which I did. Luckily for you, however, this is not the end of the story.
I make a decision
We resume the next morning with me holding my cup of coffee, the aforementioned Sumatra, and headed towards where I suspected the noise to originate. Still in my slippers and sleepwear, I walked out of my back yard and headed toward the unknown: the end of the grass alley, the other side of the tracks as far as my immediate neighborhood was concerned. It was a generator. I saw the extension cord leading from a small mobile home through a fence surrounding a beat up house at the end the grass alley. The yard and that section of the grass alley had the look of a parking lot of a Walmart that had just exploded. There was crap everywhere: a wooden pallet, plastic chairs, soggy cardboard boxes, several lawn mowers and shapes of things wood and plastic that were once recognizable, useful.
Writing this now, I am struck that I had so little fear of walking into an unknown, potentially confrontational or volatile situation with a stranger. I noticed movement over the fence. There someone moving around in the yard behind the beat up wood slat fence. I could only see him from the forehead up to his curly reddish hair. This forehead topped with reddish hair held my life in it’s hands. I looked again at the extension cord that powered the generator, which led from the small trailer to the yard in which he was working. I stepped closer, holding my coffee cup, inhaled, and began. “Excuse me, I...”
I suffer no longer
In a few moments it was all over. Not a shouting match, not the call to the police, just a quick conversation. From the forehead with the curly reddish hair on down, the man was quite reasonable. He summarized his situation by the following “Been evicted, have to be out of here by Wednesday.“
As for he moral of the story? Don’t believe the worst you think of your writing, painting, scrap booking, deviled-eggs or your life as a whole. None of the the worst case situations that I convinced myself were very real outcomes, are now going to come to pass. In this blog, I blather on about the power and wonder of the mind. We are our thoughts. But with observation and some slightly courageous action, we can tell some of those thoughts to take a hike. Or in my case, a short walk in your jammies. Ultimately, one must walk down the grass alley to the source of our fears. Then we need to call them out. You’ll sleep a whole lot better.
By the way, this is a repost. It is relevant to me because I have to practice what I preach. I am taking a class at the Indiana Writer’s Center on “Revising your work”. It is required that you submit and then discuss live on Zoom a 1,000 work expert from one of your works. Let the suffering begin….or not.