[If you are just joining me today, this is a blog about my daily attempt to knit a line to the sea from a public bench in Bellingham, WA, and the adventures along the way]
“Where do you live?” T, the young bicycle rider, asked me. I told him that I used to live on this street, but now I live on Alabama Hill. T. says, “I live in Sudden Valley. My mom fights with my dad a lot, so she decided to live apart.” He also lives on 16th Street some of the time. Earlier this morning when I arrived, I saw him on his porch with the glaring/grinning jack-o-lantern that he designed.
It rained earlier today, but the sun shone the whole time I was out knitting at 16th and Taylor. “I can’t tell if it’s getting sunnier or rainier,” E. said walking Buster. He told me that he did not name Buster, he rescued Buster from a relative who wasn’t able to care for him.
J. was throwing a work party to tidy up her yard. Work Party–an oxymoron that reveals the truth that when friends work together, they play together. As J. pruned back the grape vine, she exposed a branch underneath it of a raspberry bush that was covered in ripe raspberries! “There’s your lunch,” she exclaimed. I don’t know if anyone will believe me that I ate fresh raspberries today…The grape vine must have provided shelter to the raspberries from the harsh wind and rain. There are more raspberries coming so stop by and have some with me…
“What will you do when you get to the water?” several others asked.
My standard response is now, “I’ll roll it up and throw a huge party!”
Another woman out walking with her husband said, “I’m keeping my eye on you. Don’t change the color or anything!”
In the past two weeks, I’ve been learning a difficult and liberating truth–life is not about fairness, it’s about generosity. Somehow, I got it into my head that if I did X, I would get the result I wanted (and deserved.) In the process, I’ve become a terrible score keeper, and pretty controlling too. “I called you, you didn’t call me back,” et cetera, ad nauseum. But life is a brutal teacher. Lately, I’ve been aware of a lot of unfair situations, both in my life and the lives of others around me:
-compassionate roommates left paying massive utility bills for alcoholic roommate who moves out.
-youthful, smart and loving grandmother gets stomach cancer and finds herself in hospice care.
-man tries to save drowning pregnant wife, and ends up drowning while she and her little one survive.
These fearsome events pierce me to the bone. And I could go on and on. The point is–I don’t want to. I have found that protesting unfairness gets me nowhere. I end up bitter, despondent, resentful–and out of touch with the deepest level of reality. What I am slowly, painfully learning is that even though life sends terrible curve balls, it is also always sending me blessings and lucky breaks that I don’t in the least deserve. Raspberries on October 27th? The friend that says “breakfast is on me.” The colleague a few years back who forgives after I spread a malicious rumor about him that I later realized wasn’t true…I don’t deserve to wake up every day to creative work that I love. I don’t deserve good health, decent looks, a loving family.
I would like to get my hands on the Cosmic Calculator someday, and see the ratio of painful to wonderful things…But, until then, I’m a happier, more generous person if I don’t keep score, and do my best to tip other people’s scales in a positive direction. As I’m realizing, this is the path of deep suffering, AND overwhelming joy. (And the key to a crazy adventure! Hence the crazy quilt for me.) And here’s the biggest secret of all–each time I show generosity (and it’s a huge struggle EVERY time to overcome the scared, stingy, I’m-being-taken-advantage-of part of myself), I’m receiving even more back. It’s uncanny. Try it and see.