Yesterday a gigantic tree branch from a 100-foot cedar fell on my house.
To say this was “un-ideal” would be an understatement.
It was a stormy, blustery morning, and I was sheltered safely inside. I was wrapped cozily in a blanket, drinking coffee and working on my computer. I had shit to do. I was doing it. I didn’t want to have to do MORE annoying, frustrating OTHER shit that wasn’t previously on my list of shit to do.
Sadly, The Great Big Whatever had other plans. And high above my home a huge tree limb, weighed heavy with rain and battered by wind, said “Fuck this noise, I’m outtie” and death-dropped onto my roof with a force that felt and sounded like an angry giant’s fist attempting to squash my sweet abode like a bug.
A lot of irritating, stressful things happened after that which I won’t go into (and please do not talk to me about home insurance unless you want to be treated to a boring, bitter rant), but also a lot of wonderful things happened in the form of help and support, and the moral of this story is:
Nobody Deserves This Shit.
I think, often, I struggle with wanting to find or make meaning of life. I want to understand WHY— to stitch the un-knowing and uncertainty and struggle and the seemingly-cursed occurrences into a beautiful quilt that makes a comforting sense when you hold it at arm’s length.
But all of it—the good and the bad—it just happens.
A gigantic tree branch fell on my house, from my neighbor’s unkempt cedar. They simply said “Bummer! But that’s on your side” and left me to deal with it. The legality was slippery and my insurance even slippery-er. It sucked.
But also my other neighbor-friend Nate came over the crawl around on his hands and knees in my disgusting attic and assess the damage and offer to help me fix my brow-beaten rain gutters and patch my tree-pierced roof.
My woodwork-friend Krista offered to come over, even though her car battery had literally just died and she was going through her own annoying shit.
And my previous landlord-friend Lefty came over to scope out the tree, and then came over AGAIN this morning to chainsaw it into pieces.
All of this kindness and help made me think. “Nobody ‘deserves’ a catastrophe,” I mumbled to myself, “but do I deserve this goodness, either?”
I felt humbled, I felt grateful, and, yeah…I felt shame. It’s weird, right? That we take someone’s gift of time and resources and we make it about our own failure, or need, or lack.
The truth is, I often feel like an enormous, walking abyss of helplessness and blundering ineptitude. I don’t know what to do with those feelings. I think they’re lies made to keep me isolated from people, to stop me from reaching out for help, to whittle away at my connections and the tenuous, ego-tromping humility it takes to ask for things.
But there I go, making it about ME.
What should carry more weight in my life (metaphorically, of course): the tree-branch that didn't decide anything but to obey the laws of gravity, or all the humans who DID decide I deserved some of their life energy hours and effort?
Because this is also a true thing: When I look at my friends I see human bodies that stand—with all their generosity and skills— as bridges spanning the distance between total disaster and dilemmas solved. Isn’t that something? If you are one person, you have the potential to make all the difference for someone in any given situation.
Can that be the meaning I make of this?
Life is honestly just a Good/Bad Get-What-You-Get porridge. Sometimes it’s smooth and creamy with peanut butter and those sweet craisins, and other times it’s a gray glop of soup-slop that goes down sticky and thick in the throat.
To be with each other in the ups and downs, to ask for help even when we feel shame about it, to give our own resources when we can, to be grateful for life in all its porridge-ness, that’s all we can do. And if being human is just to be present to the Good/Bad, I guess it is what we deserve—all of it.
Sending you craisin vibes in the glop-slop times,
THREE GOOD THINGS
I’m currently doing my #Notevember project where I send out one homemade fortune cookie postcard every day to a random recipient. I’ve got some spots left, so send your mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to be included!
Tonight I’m probably eating whatever sad things I can find in my fridge (because life) but I’m gonna make this chili on Sunday because comfort food is calling to my soul.
Did y’all know that Taco Bell has breakfast? This is news to me! They literally have a burrito with a full-on, whole hash brown stuffed inside. I know fast food is capitalistic evil but I can’t help it, I’m intrigued. Who’s tried it? I NEED DETAILS.
I’m loving your comments on the ANNIEGRAM, friends!
And feel free to share with YOUR friends who might need a life-porridge pick me up!