Fittings and Flushing

At 5:53 this morning, I was chanting fittings and flushing over and over because the new toilet seems to be malfunctioning which I must investigate so it can be returned within the grace period if need be. And I need to call the plumbing fittings store because I’m in the market for a new pressure tank.

I do not allow myself to get out of bed until 6 a.m., so given my distractibility, if I wake early and think of things, I recite them until I’m up and can write them on a list.

This discourages God. The holy art of being chill eludes me even though, as God has pointed out for decades, fretting at dawn does not necessarily enhance the chances of a good day.

But today, the chanting paid off. By 9 o’clock I had called the fittings store; the size of pressure tank we need will have to be ordered, not just picked up. And I’d flushed enough to realize the flapper chain was too short. An easy fix.

Next, there’s the broken screen door handle. And powdery mildew is taking over the garden, and right at this moment, a wasp is buzzing around in the living room. Even though we usually have five or six swatters available, I can’t find a single one.

But I do find God, standing motionless in Mountain Pose on the porch.

“Hello, God,” I say. “What’re you doing out here?”

“Considering autumn. Funerals. Firewood. Frost. Harvest.”

“Want me to memorize a list for you?” I ask facetiously.

“No.”

God picks up one of the onions drying in the sun. She peels away dirt-encrusted layers until she reaches the moist, succulent flesh and releases the pungent signature of onion. “This will take care of it.”

Only God can do this with an onion. She had summer mark this tragic year with three gargantuan pumpkins, renegade tomato plants, and cauliflower heads, white as snow, which we’d forgotten were there.

Spring is one of my worst distractions. We always overplant, but this will change.

Nothing stays the same. Nothing lasts. To know this is a burden and a blessing.

Between impermanence and consciousness are caves and canyons worn by water, made beautiful by clay, resisting, yielding, and resisting again.

Letting go.

Hanging on.

And letting go again.

That tasty cauliflower grew to fruition unnoticed, but the gigantic, neon pumpkins are entirely obvious, frantically ripening a raucous orange on frost-damaged vines. God and I are cheering them on–God perched comfortably on the pinnacle of forever; me, less centered, patting the pumpkin’s belly, dreading the coming winter, but imagining pie.

Managing Distractions

(Illustration from my book “When Baby Corporations Come To Play”)

During the next 22 minutes, I hereby resolve to sit in a soft purple chair facing out into my personal chaos and not move anything but my fingers. Warily, my body will relax; my thoughts will filter through a maze of urges, accusations, poetic phrases, and old jokes. Most likely, I will revisit yesterday’s indignations instead of remembering recent joys.

God will appear in fits and starts. She’s as subtle as the noisy microwave and the insistent hum of the cheap refrigerator I’m enduring for the sake of the planet. Or so I say.

I let myself love the pinkening of the sky, even though the pink is fleeting, and my love will go mostly unrequited. The sky does not have time to love me back for very long.

God moves freely around the room. She is interested in the ways lime green and pumpkin orange can change a life for the better. So am I. She seems fascinated with the ease and strength of torque screws, the ticking of old-fashioned clocks, the dangerous games people play in their minds, and the lyrics. And I do mean The Lyrics. The One Song. Sometimes, I sing along but I make up my own words. It’s safer that way.

At heart, God is a rapper. She claims she’s still writing relevant verses. I doubt it. What does she have to offer the gamers and the insistently ignorant? The magnificently greedy, the already generous? Or me, for that matter? And why do I think there should be a set of lines I can understand? As if that could save a single hair on my waning head.

Each minute is a minute unto itself. Round, perfect, weightless. I want to crawl into one and float away, but they burst like bubbles when I touch them. They take no prisoners, allow no passengers, and mercilessly disappear. All I can do is admire the flawless roundness, and shape myself to the circling earth, as if I, too, were a moment in time. Enough but empty. Complete but hungry. Irridescent, transparent—a shade of blue that only God can imagine.

It’s time to leave the soft purple chair and move into the falsely ordinary shards of the day. “Farewell,” I say to each of the 22 minutes, my voice tender and sad. The sky has given up on being pink, but God is still puttering around, admiring whatever she has in her hands as if nothing has slipped away. “Want to go for a walk?” she asks. I lift the skin on my face into a smile and look into her eyes. “Sure,” I say to the Eternal, the Great Intangible, the Path, the Lover, the Rapper, the Generator of the Splintered Now. “Sure,” I say, standing and ready. “Let’s walk.”