I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Labor Day Sunday

Rain falling at Lake Padden last Saturday
I'm sitting here in bed, laptop at the ready, tea beside me, and listening to the rain drumming on the roof. After a perfectly wonderful sunny day yesterday, the rain has returned with a vengeance. We were so happy last week to finally see some actual rainfall, even though we were walking in it around the lake last Saturday. But before we left, the rain had stopped, blue skies appeared, and the wind started. I also learned that not long after we left the lake, authorities closed it because of the danger of the wind downing trees. It blew all day long, hard enough to cause many of us to lose power for days on end from downed trees and telephone poles. Last Sunday I had to write my post from the coffee shop, because we didn't get our power back for 35 hours in all. There were other people who went without it for more than twice as long.

One couple in Everson who were using their generator had set it up outside but with the cellar door opened a crack. Enough for the carbon monoxide fumes to enter the house and kill them. She was found on the kitchen floor, and he was sitting in his chair in the living room. Nobody knew how long they had been dead, since they were found by family members after they were unable to contact them. Here's the article in the Bellingham Herald. I didn't realize how easy it would be to inhale fumes from a generator that was set up outside.

You just never really know when your time might be up. The lives we live seem very safe and predictable, but then the power goes out and something happens that causes you to make a serious mistake. Or an out-of-control car careens into yours on the highway and it's all over. It reminds me that it's important not to take for granted each and every day I have on this planet. And to give thanks that I don't have to wonder where my next meal is coming from and that I am sheltered from the weather with a roof over my head. That is not the situation for many people in the world today. I can hardly read the news about all the refugees in Europe and the dispute over their right to cross into other countries. They are homeless and desperate, and I suspect hopeless as well. My chest gets tight and I can feel myself in danger of being dragged into hopelessness myself.

Okay, that's enough, I tell myself. Here I am wanting to write an uplifting post and I can feel myself getting dragged into despair. Sometimes I wonder if it's useful to stay abreast of the news, when there's so little to be done from my little corner of the world, other than to commiserate and give money to relief organizations. I've learned little tricks to keep myself in a positive state of mind, and one of them is to look at the larger picture. Although I realize that people have suffered throughout history, there are just so many more of us today that it's impossible to comprehend 7 billion souls going through every single aspect of mortality all at once. Now if I take my consciousness farther out, to the Milky Way, I feel a sense of wonder that somewhere in that vast collection of stars lies our little planet.
Andromeda Galaxy from APOD
And then there's all those other galaxies, like the one above, where there must be life of one sort or another, don't you think? It's impossible for me to believe that we are alone in the vast universe. And of course where there's life, there's all those other aspects that we experience in our journey from birth to death. Somehow it helps me to realize that we are at least able to comfort and be comforted by those around us. We're all in this together. If only we could realize that more directly, maybe we might be kinder to those who share the present moment with us.

I've been thinking about skydiving the last couple of days. On my walk yesterday, one of the ladies told me that she went down to Skydive Snohomish and made a tandem jump. Her tandem instructor is someone I know quite well, and I looked at her pictures on Facebook and smiled to remember what it was like to gear up and get on that airplane myself and then jump out. Although I've been reminiscing about it, I still think it was time for me to stop. My Parachutist magazine also came in the mail yesterday and I looked through it briefly. There was a time when I looked forward to its arrival and read everything in it from start to finish.

Yesterday I realized that the sport has moved on, away from me. People who are just starting in the sport now are able to get instruction that I never could, and they can fly in positions that I find amazing (like upside down to the earth). Not to mention wind tunnels, where you can learn the techniques to use in freefall without having to actually be in freefall. Lauren, the young woman who bought my skydiving gear, is giving it a real workout. I see her on Facebook doing things in the air already (with a mere 200 skydives) that I never did.

I also realized that I spent more than a third of my entire life as an active skydiver, so it's no wonder that I kind of miss it. But there was a time when I also was a rock climber and backpacker, and those times are gone now, too. It doesn't mean that I need to forget it all, I will always have my memories, but there is also a time when one needs to let go and move on. It makes it much easier to do when one has a comfortable life that is fulfilling. And that I have in abundance.

I found this picture on Lauren's page, and it speaks to me of all that abundance. I have opened my parachute more than 4,000 times, just like this, and I have been in beautiful places like this one. Her pilot chute has just been released into the windstream and will pull out her main parachute and she will glide to the ground for a wonderful landing after a wonderful skydive. I am with her in spirit, as I am also with you, my dear readers, in spirit. I hope that this week will bring you all good things and that you will have a safe, warm place to enjoy.
Lauren over Puget Sound


Anonymous said...

I know what you mean about enjoying fond memories of times long gone. I was never a skydiver, but I did study the violin for a very long time and I don't play that instrument anymore. But, that doesn't mean I don't enjoy listening to other people playing it. I can hardly wait for symphony season to begin later this month.

Rian said...

I've been wanting us to get a generator for a long time. Our electricity doesn't go out a lot, but when it does...

And I too find myself wondering about all those homeless refugees that are being turned away... and wonder how that can be. I know there are rules and regulations and political aspects to consider, but then I'm reminded of Hitler and all the fear that was generated (maybe because I'm reading a book about German-occupied France in the early 1940's). How can this be happening in this day and age? Have we learned nothing? And no, I don't know the answer... but surely, there must be one?

Actually this book is making me depressed, yet I can't put it down. I find myself thinking about how horrible these people's lives were... and find myself extremely sad. And listening to the news doesn't help. The only thing available to do is to give donations... and I'm not always sure that the money gets where it's supposed to go.

OK, this isn't uplifting. Think I'll go pet my cats. I know they're happy...

Stella Jones said...

That's a shocking story about the generator and carbon monoxide causing death. Something we should all be aware of. I have a carbon monoxide detector in my kitchen and I'm so glad it's there. I also always sleep with a window open at night just in case.
You gave up your sky diving at the right time in my opinion. I'm so glad you did. I didn't want to read on here that you had departed this life prematurely!
So glad you have your power back.

Elephant's Child said...

So much to think about in this post.
We are always only a heart-beat away from change...
Like you, I find the news difficult to read/listen to/see.
How I long for a breaking down of the artificial barriers we set up called countries and religion.
A time when we realise that we are all sharing this world, and become a community. No us and them. Only us. And yes, I am a dreamer.

Glenda C. Beall said...

The news today is very depressing, but I have to remember that reporters always show us the worst of anything. I noticed some of the people are smiling and seem happy just to be out of the war torn place they came from.
We have people right here in the U.S. that have no homes and live on the streets, in cars or wherever they can find a place. They are not all drug users or alcoholics. Some are women and children. Our working poor in this rich country can't find a place to rent because they can't afford it on the meager salaries they make. I resent people who think that all homeless people are just no good, lazy, etc. when I have seen documentaries that show differently. I know people in my area who have been homeless, women and children. I can't let myself dwell on all these problems because it makes me ill and I can't do much to help. Until those who run our governments hear it from the people that we are willing to reach out to those who need help, they will continue to line their pockets instead. You always make us think, DJan. My advice is to stop watching the news except maybe once a day. Too much bad news makes us crazy and depressed.

Arkansas Patti said...

I am so glad you gear went to a happy home where it is used and enjoyed regularly. That is how I felt about my motorcycle.
Today's headlines can be overwhelming and heartwarming. As staunch as the Hungary was refusing the refugees, Germany has been just a wonderful vision as they lined the streets welcoming them. Bless them for opening their country and their hearts. Hard to do when 80,000 are on your doorstep with a total of 800,000 expected. That is a class act.

Jackie said...

Feeling your thoughts as I read your post, Jan.
I saw an article on the refugees...and saw a photo of that poor 3-year-old child who had washed up on the shore after he and his mother and brother drowned in the ocean, and I had to click off the article. I had to. It was more than I could bear. And I think, "What can I do, Lord? What can I do?" The answer came immediately.
I pray for those who are in the paths of those refugees to open their hearts and arms and doors. I pray for those who are escaping to stay strong and continue to take the best care of themselves their family members who are suffering under these dire circumstances. My heart breaks for those who simply long to find safety and freedom and cannot find it....and I sit here in the comfort of a warm and safe home. "Please, Lord. Be with those who are hurting. Please..."

Red said...

Life goes on. wW move on. I'd hate to stay in the same position for my whole life. Although if we look back in history people did stay in the same position. Like you, I've gone through many experiences that I enjoyed.

Gigi said...

The news and I have a love/hate/hate relationship. For that reason, I try to stick to only the stories I know I can handle. And, of course, I read the comics every day for just a bit of relief.

Knowing that tomorrow is a holiday, and likely to upset your routine, I will be thinking of you and wishing you a fabulous week.

Far Side of Fifty said...

That last photo is beautiful and I can imagine that it is you!
I hate the news some days too...and I find it depressing so then I give it up for the weather channel:)
"We are all in this together and no one is getting out alive." Yes...each day is precious because we may not be here tomorrow or the next day.
I am not sure if there is life out there in space...I am leaning towards no....but anything is possible.
I hope you have a good day tomorrow and maybe you will see a movie with a friend as Holidays mess you all up! :) I will be on Monday for two days and it will follow me all week long:(

Trish and Rob MacGregor said...

What a gorgeous photo for the end of your post! May the refugees come to know that feeling soon!

Rita said...

That's why I don't watch the news. All we can really do is what we can do in our own backyards. But even if it is only a little--every little bit helps. And we are just a speck in the larger scheme of things. A beautiful blue and white and green speck. :)

I was just thinking about the jobs I used to do (monthly question on some blogs) and how different my body and even my brain are today. But I am happy right now. And I have wonderful memories. What more can we ask for, right? :):)

Friko said...

A very pensive blog this week, with sad thoughts and grateful thoughts. Just as it should be.
There is so much trouble and strife in this world of ours, far too much; and so much is caused by humans and done to other humans. All we can do is look after our little corner and do the best we can.

As for getting old and ‘past it’, I too have had a little taste of it this summer and there are things which need to be packed away and stored simply for the sake of remembrance of the good old days, when . . . . .

Never mind, we are still here!