As I posted awhile back, the last thing I wrote on my old laptop before it bit the dust was this note for a blog post:
Electricity and I have had some recent problems. My building is a hundred years old; for about fifty of those, many of its important parts were held together by duct tape (including the pipes under my bathroom floor, which exploded rather impressively awhile back). Somewhere behind one of my walls, a key wire seems to have suffered the same ad hoc repair. At completely random moments, I lose electricity in three of my five rooms (thankfully excluding the one where I work). Diagnosing and fixing the problem may entail ripping apart the wall and sending me a large bill, so I'm trying to live with it for as long as I can. So far the lights have always returned, whether after a few minutes or five hours. It's a good week when I don't have to keep a chair to climb on in front of the kitchen cabinet in order to reach the circuit box way at the top behind a stack of pots and pans.
Once I got in the habit of holding my breath when flicking the light switch after being out and about, the analogies I drew were pretty obvious and not subtle. Like air and water, electricity has always been a given in my life. This literal crack in the foundation felt like a friend suddenly sick, or being laid off from a job without the two-week warning. Whenever the the lights did go on, I wanted to start dancing; when they didn't, my initial reaction was to curse, grumble and become paralyzed with grumpy annoyance. But after awhile I got tired of feeling rotten. I bought a battery-operated alarm clock in case power disappeared in the middle of the night; I learned to brush my teeth in the dark. I began to accept the routine of uncertainty. Light and its absence would come and go; the trick was in learning to navigate between those states.
This past Shabbat, as I sang about God trying to convince a man with a cold, hard heart to be human, Pharaoh became my stand-in for frayed wires and all the other big and little stresses of these past weeks. I don't know if my chanting sounded angry, but it sure seemed that way to me. And I felt great when I was done, light and free; I had no doubt that the universe heard me, and made a note. Answers might not come for awhile, but I knew I could deal with the wait. Yeah, it's that troublemaker in apt. 12C. Don't worry, you're on our schedule. Have a nice day.
A wonderful post, aa... I loved your analogy between the frayed wires and Pharoah... although I would much rather have the frayed wires- at least I think so... :)
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