When we get back from the beach our lawn mower is broken and our already questionable lawn has now fully succumbed to a land of lawlessness, chaos and weeds. Back in the day I wouldn’t have even noticed but since my recent, nasty case of LOP (Late Onset Perfectionism) this is a major setback, proving that life is hard and messy and only going to get harder and messier. My belief in a benign universe has been a little shaky lately- what with all the murder and injustice and grief and pain and broken down appliances and any order I can bestow takes on larger than life proportion.
At the beach I spent every morning running along the shore and surf barefoot (marveling at the other runners in SHOES AND SOCKS), baptizing myself in salt, sweat and sand, trying to let go of the things I can’t control, which is pretty much everything, and praying hard to God to help me do it. In addition to the heartache in the news, people I love are in pain, dying, cheating, lonely, leaving, being left and in pain. And even worse, there are people I care about who are angry at me and somehow I have failed to prevent this from happening and no matter how many ways I work out the equation, I can’t quite figure out why. So what can I do about any of it? Submerge myself in the ocean. Let the waves break over my head. Become more vigilant about not being eaten by sharks than being perfect. Pray. Journal. Meditate. I have a major revelation sitting in my beach chair where the waves break, feet buried in sand. Conflict is part of the natural order of life no matter how desperately I try to prevent it. This is elementary, but my biggest revelations always are.
Two days after we get home I'm chopping vegetables in the kitchen mentally rehearsing a list of 1,000 things I have to do to close out last week and launch into next while my husband wrestles down a gigantic box in the living room. "Honey," I say. "Will you promise not to get angry if I ask you a question?" Because introducing a new topic this way always wins. "Uh, OK?" he says, braced. "What are we going to do about the lawnmower?" I ask. "You mean this one, right here?" He pulls a gigantic cherry red lawnmower out of the box that I now see quite clearly reads 20" Side Discharge Push Mower. "Oh," I say. "I didn't see that coming." And I relax for a minute. I never see the good stuff coming when I'm trying to control the entire universe, even when it's printed in bold black letters on the side of the box.