Making room for lifeboats

I had coffee with my good friend Ms C last week, who’s just been laid off. She’s happy about it, says she has other things she wants to focus on right now and construction isn’t one of them; she doesn’t like sending her energy there any more. (I appreciate this feeling.)

So, we talked about the plans and possibilities ahead for both of us respectively-- we, the unemployed. “I have all these ideas for art projects,” I say. “And I’m really impatient to get to them, but I can’t seem to stop cleaning everything. I don’t know why; I can’t shake the feeling that has to get done first.”

I expect her to say something supportive like “Oh yeah, it’s so hard to focus sometimes” or maybe (in a mild lecturing tone) something more like “Well, there’s always a chore we think is more important than our art; we need to make the time.” Or maybe a combination of sentiments.

Instead she looks at me with this funny half-smile and says, “Of course you have to clean first. Gotta make room for the new life to come in.”


Wait, wait. There’s more.

So then, I’m telling her about how I got onto my purging kick in the first place with this book* and how it’s really made me think about where I want my life to go. But I feel like if my next step leads in the wrong direction, I’ll end up in another box. My intuition has been on the fritz lately; I’m uncertain about stepping anywhere. And I’m terrified of boxes.

And we’re talking about Dan’s job. It was supposed to last two years, but now Dan’s saying he’d be surprised if it lasts through the summer. And this is the last construction job in town, so we seriously need a new plan. We discuss it regularly and I’m trying real hard to stay positive and not blow into full panic.

Something. We’re in desperate need of something. A new plan. A steady course. Just-- something.

Ms C says, “Well. Just don’t be like that guy on the Titanic. You know, the guy who’s praying Please God please get me out of this please please please. And he’s got his eyes shut tight, he’s praying so hard, and getting more upset and wondering where is God, why aren’t his prayers being answered. And he ends up going down with the ship. When he gets to heaven, he asks God all angry, ‘Why didn’t you help me? I was praying the whole time!’ And God says, ‘Yeah. And there was a lifeboat right there.’ ”

When we’re lost, we want searchlights and rescue helicopters. Dramatic unmistakable neon signs to herd us back to the main road. But the thing that’s actually going to save our asses is the lifeboat over in that cobwebby corner.

The Other House is our lifeboat right now. It’s not solid land, the way a job would be. It’s just a boat. It gets us from where we are to somewhere yet to be determined. And much as I would prefer a fully-equipped vessel in which to chart new waters-- well, I'll take the leaky lifeboat any day over going down with the ship.

Plus, we can’t move anywhere with the smoking hull of the Titanic in our way. We need to row far away from that shit and let it sink. Clear the waters. Make room for our new ship to come in.

*It’s All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuff by Peter Walsh. I tripped and fell right into it. I was researching sustainability and green living at the library and this book came up in the search results, so I requested it along with a half-dozen others. Only it’s not really about sustainability; it’s about organizing. Except it’s not about about organizing your crap, it’s about organizing your life as a result of organizing your crap. I can’t explain it. Just buy it. Seriously great book.

1 comment:

  1. Wow. Love Peter Walsh and just put that book by my chair (again) today so I'll pick it up more often.

    My dh is in construction as well. Boy have I heard that two-year description given to a two-month job. Recently!

    Here's to incoming ships!