In The Blink Of An Eye

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This tree…

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…landed on this truck.

Everything can change. I was reminded of this last Sunday, when my husband called to tell me a tree had split in half and landed on the roof of his truck while he was driving down the street. It was such a freak thing to happen. I almost didn’t believe it, until I saw the tree, and his truck, for myself. He suffered a concussion and sprained neck from the impact, but it could have been much worse. Thank God he’s a man who likes to drive a sturdy pick-up truck. If he had a compact car, he might be dead.

 

What are the odds of a tree falling on your vehicle while you’re driving down the street? Maybe the same as winning the lottery? I couldn’t help but wonder about this, given the fact that on that same morning in church, I donated the dollar bill I’d been saving to buy a lottery ticket to the nuns who were visiting our parish. The bill had been stuffed in my purse for weeks. I was waiting for that perfect, intuitive moment to speak to me, “Today is the day to purchase the winning lottery ticket at this obscure store you never frequent.”

After listening to the nun’s plea, I decided the hell with it, like I’m really going to win the lottery with this dollar bill or, like, ever. The money would be better spent on the nuns’ cause. (Lest you think I’m a cheapskate, I’d already made a donation during mass when the basket came through; the dollar was the only cash I had left.)

Then later that day, a tree lands on my husband’s truck. That day, my husband says to me, half-joking, “You almost just came into half a million dollars.” He was referring to the $500,000 life insurance policy we have on him. Not that I wouldn’t love half a million dollars, mind you, but not at the expense of his life. I told him this, and hoped he believed me.

What would our lives be without this husband and father? This man who drives me absolutely batty with his insane, surprise purchases, who hops from job to job, whose antics cause me to stay up nights worrying? I’ll tell you what it would be – miserable. This is what I thought as I drove to meet him an hour away at the hospital. My boys would be fatherless, I would be husbandless, and our worlds would totally, absolutely suck.  Because in spite of the stress he causes,  he counteracts it with so much good.

As my wise grandmother used to say when anyone in the family was complaining of marital woes and contemplating divorce (and, who knows, maybe fantasizing about their spouse passing away in a freak accident and collecting the insurance money): you are merely trading one set of problems for another.

This is what I was reminded of thanks to this freak act of nature. Or maybe it was really a wake up call from God.

Cloudy With The Promise of Sunshine

More and more I have this sinking feeling that I’m not living life anywhere near to the fullest. Like I’ve fooled myself into thinking otherwise. As if hopes, dreams, imaginings, stories, and fleeting sensations and moments are somehow a substitute for true adventure and aliveness.

It’s starting to scare me, that time is passing so quickly, that so many bucket list items remain undone. Sometimes I feel like these photos look, so much potential obscured by clouds. I could blame this on any number of things. But the truth is that it is only me holding me back. I am the cloud.

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The campus I work at on a cloudy autumn day.

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The gold dome on this building glows majestic on a sunny day.

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These flags seem both comforting and austere amidst the backdrop of the clouds.

But doesn’t every cloud have a silver lining? Is there not beauty and potential to be had in the misty gray darkness?

On a lighter note, for some reason this song kept playing through my mind as I typed this depressing post. Not sure it’s totally relevant, but the lyrics are nice and the beat is cheery. Hope you enjoy if you choose to listen.

Handle With Care

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone.
~Aubrey Hepburn

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My son and future daughter-in-law on a recent daytrip to a local vineyard. I hope and pray that neither one throws the other away one day. I believe this is one of the reasons for so much pain in the world, because people discard each other too easily. Please, let’s handle each other with care.

Where’s The Revolution?

start-revolutionAn old professor friend of mine used to have a theory for why people are complacent, which he called the “fat, dumb, and happy” theory. According to him, as long as people’s bellies and wallets were full, and they were relatively happy with their lives, they were more likely to turn the other cheek and play “dumb” to the injustices going on around them.  His theory made a certain kind of sense to me, though I didn’t point out at the time that we ourselves were “fat, dumb, and happy”. Talking about issues wasn’t the same as doing something about them.

I was reminded of his “theory” over the weekend when my husband went on a tirade about the presidential election happening in our country right now. Politics is a topic I avoid like the plague on social media, this blog included. Things turn ugly so fast that it’s not worth posting even a single word about it. However, when my husband claimed that we need a revolution in this country, it sparked some angry fire in me.

People are too complacent to revolt, I told him, and shared my former colleague’s theory. The difference now is that while some of us are “fat, dumb, and happy”, more of us are  exhausted, over-busy, and stressed out.

We’re exhausted because too many of us work nonstop to pay living expenses that keep rising, even as wages stay stagnant. Case in point: We bought our house 20 years ago. Today, a person buying this house would have to pay nearly twice as much for it. When our son was born 18 years ago, my husband only earned about $40,000 per year, yet  we could afford for me not to work and still meet our expenses, save money, and go on vacations. One reason was that electricity, cable, heating, groceries, gas, healthcare, and insurance costs were a small fraction of what they are now.  Incomes rose, not fell. Since we were able to save, we didn’t need to charge or take out lines of credit.

We’re over-busy because now most families must have two full-time wage earners just to make ends meet. (Unless, of course, you’re a single parent, then you’re doing the work of two people.) After working all day, we then attempt to cram in family meals, homework help, household chores, grocery shopping, meal preparation, laundry, bill-paying, children’s activities, exercising, and socializing into pockets of time in the evening and on weekends. Few of us have the time and luxury to spread these activities out more evenly, and sensibly, throughout the weekdays.

Finally, we’re stressed out from working long days at  jobs that suck the life out of us, because employers expect us to do the jobs of at least two people. Add all of this together, and it’s no wonder so many of us are zoning out in front of the television at night, drinking too much, eating too much, allowing the news and subliminal advertising messages to feed our brains with poison. And don’t even get me going on the prescription drug abuse epidemic in our country, which I personally find alarming.

It’s occurred to me that maybe they like us this way – exhausted, over-busy, stressed, and medicated. “They” being the powers that be who run this country. As long as we’re preoccupied, whether happily or miserably, we’re less likely to make a stink over decisions the government makes on our behalf, the rising cost of living, endless wars, toxins in our foods, the failing public education system, racism, sexism, violence, etc..

Damn right we need a revolution. But who will start one? Surely not the fat, dumb, and happy people. Why mess up a good thing? Definitely not the exhausted, over-busy, stressed out people. They don’t have the time or energy. So the status quo prevails.

I told all this to my husband, and then encouraged him to start a revolution. He finished his pizza and went and watched baseball instead.