For good or bad, experiences gather in our brains, writing perspective with indelible ink, each entry turning us right or left. Sometimes the writing is true – G loves me – and sometimes it’s false and belittling as in G hates me. Most of us, most of the time, never think about it until we’re forced to.
So close I could touch it
It was unseasonably warm and sunny outside when the television yelled that that hard winds and heavy rains loomed. Big deal: we live in the Carolinas. We clamored into bed that night, nodding reassurances and listening to howls and watching rain paint our windows with crystalline lights.
I was sleeping and saw a flash. This happens: sleeping can be as exciting as a birthday party since my brain injury. But I wondered – inside my sleep – why part of my brain was lighting up? Was I having a seizure? Then thunder roared above me, loud and close like I could reach and touch it.
Dragging myself from the warmth of my wife and her dog, I got up and wandered to the back door to see if there was damage. There was. A section of fence was down, laying flat in the neighbor’s yard. I smiled, thinking that our fence looked like a kid who just lost a tooth. Nonplussed, I made coffee and went to work editing a book until daylight.
Ugh. Now this is INCONVENIENT
Rain still poured, and I put on my coat and hat and looked at the fence through the louvered blinds. Great. Now I’ll have to push my To-Do list back a couple of hours to fix the fence. Another thought struck me: could this be a reminder?
Forgotten and remembered
I was in Atlanta’s Shepherd Center for two months once, laying with a brain injury and a bag of broken bones. Laying there, strapped to the bed, I thought often of how I would give my remaining good leg to go home and sit on the couch in front of the fire and read for a living. But, for reasons that confused the doctors who thought I might walk in two or three years, I walked in four weeks and ran in six. Well, you might call it running. I call it an old man shuffle.
I saw my backyard and my fence lying prone, and I thought of how extravagantly fortunate it is to have a fence and a house and a wife who loves you and to have my writing. Making my way though the downpour to the shop, I gathered a hammer and nails and thought about the storm in Kentucky and how those thousands of people would give almost anything for the good ol’ days when a storm blew over their yard, making them late for work because they had to fix the fence.
So, let’s remember…no, let’s forge a new perspective: there is almost always something worse that could have happened or something that leads to real despair. Usually, whatever bothers us is just an inconvenience because we want to finish a chapter of a book no one will read. My family adopted a motto when we came home from the Shepherd Center, a new perspective, and it serves us well: We are alive, we are together, we love each other, and G loves us all.
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