I never realized just how much of my parents’ blend of French Canadian/Irish addictive-moody-guilty Catholicism I had absorbed until a tree hit my house and I thought it was a sign that I’d gotten too “cocky”.
I mean, really.
Yeah, I was having a hard week. Actually, kind of a hard month. Then I’d started feeling as if I could, you know, handle it. I’m nothing if not buoyant, and was starting to feel pretty dang good. I even threw a few more things on my plate (exchange student living in guest room, anyone?) because hey, I can handle it.
Then a giant tree fell on my house and instead of thinking “jeez, what a drag” I immediately thought that it was a sign. I was being smacked down for my hubris. Who the hell am I to think I’ve got a handle on things, right?
So what is it that makes me think this way? If my history has taught me anything, I have learned without a doubt that I’m a fairly amazing individual with mad coping skills. I am a problem solver. It’s what I do. I’ve cultivated that characteristic, as a matter of fact — have had to, actually, because there always seems to be a fair number of problems that need solving.
The difference then, was this: I had no control over this. Most of the time my brain is going tic-tic-tic trying to avoid potential problems, solve emerging ones, and clean up after old ones. This time, we had hurricane-force winds that we didn’t really anticipate, a power outtage, a tree on the house, chimney pieces flying… and not a single thing I could do about any of it.
Perhaps it is hubris. Maybe I’m just stupid with control-freakishness and can’t see that soemtimes shit just happens, and I need to surrender to it. All this time I thought I was being plucky, when in fact perhaps my being ever on my guard for potential problems was in fact making things worse? Maybe all of this is just more narcissism?
I’m not in the mood to get all judgy on myself, frankly. I’m enjoying my newfound sense of being human and lacking the control necessary to stop trees from falling on my house. I’ve been calling insurance people, roofers and contractors, and arborists. They all know what they’re doing and I can therefore stay in my house and bake gingerbread cookies, write in Box761, and read books. Perhaps I’ll watch some Buffy while I’m at it.
It’s a good lesson. I’m going to try to be more conscious of screwy thoughts like “the universe is smacking me down” and cognizant that the appropriate response to those thoughts is to laugh.
Out loud. Long and hard.
I’m going to try and stop catastrophizing on a daily basis, because when a catastrophe does happen, it turns out that there are all sorts of things we can do to remedy the catastrophe, and it becomes merely another stop on the problem>solution cycle (almost all of which can be fixed by making phone calls from the comfort of what’s left of one’s home).
And while I’m at it, perhaps I should just try to remove that whole Problem thing from my world view. Perhaps life isn’t a series of problem-solving exercises? Maybe it’s just, I dunno…. life?
As I write, I am stuffed with warm gingerbread, and my dogs have finally stopped barking at the roofers (who are still here banging away in the twilight, fixing my roof). My only real problem to solve is what to make myself for dinner. My only regret is that I gave the rest of the gingerbread to the roofers.
I want to savor this moment of clarity. I know that sometime, probably obscenely soon, I will return to my musings on the universe’s random events and why they are actually all about ME.