So after our busy Saturday we had a fairly busy Sunday. I took the Boy and his pal to Lasertag and then out to Beaverton to give a basic rifle marksmanship lesson to our pals the Ravas. And came back to another friends' open house for the neighborhood.
Nothing momentious, just a pleasant rainy day full of small pleasures.
But between returning from lasering and going to Beaverton BRM-training this fell from the sky on top of me:
This branch fell probably 20 to 25 feet from the street tree just outside our city strip. The tree itself is a sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua), "...a deciduous tree in the genus Liquidambar native to warm temperate areas of eastern North America and tropical montane regions of Mexico and Central America." Apparently this species has some value as a medicinal and food source: "Slashed to the cambium, sap will leak out and harden. The resulting gum can be chewed. Unripe fruit can be crushed and soaked in alcohol to make a medicinal tincture. The bark can be used to make a medicinal tea."
Not mentioned in the literature, however, is that the sonofabitch is structurally unsound and tends to shed branches in anything stronger than a gentle zephyr. We've already had a sizeable piece of the tophamper drop on the Subaru and any sort of strong wind leaves branch litter around the base.
And don't get me started on the seedpods/fruits/nutcases:
These fucking things drop all...year..round, wind or no, and function as very effective caltrops when you have forgotten to take the trash out to the curb and have to rush out in the predawn dark barefoot.
The strange thing is that yesterday afternoon there wasn't a breath of wind. I was walking out to the car, Mojo and the Boy were on the sidewalk nearby when I felt a hard blow, like a heavy punch, on the shoulder. I staggered sideways a bit and look around to see who had hit me and there this branch was; I'd gotten the thick end instead of the fluffy, leafy end and had it been two inches west or a half a second sooner I'd have taken it square atop the skull.
No noise, either; no cracking, no sound of leaves rustling, just...BANG, and a big ol' branch in the street beside me.
Which just, again, reminds me how freakish and random Life is. We amble through life taking every day, every night, each breath, every sunrise and birdsong and hug and kiss, each breathless moment at the height of lovemaking, every rich explosion of flavor on the tongue...every single warm cuddle from little bodies fitted to our chests, every syllable of happy babble, every tear, the good pull and stretch of strong muscle worked hard, each and every lingering glance of greeting and farewell with the casual acceptance that we give a yawn or a passing car or a flickering light. We expect life to rise to greet us every day, every heart to just continue beating, every tire to track smoothly, every breath to begin as the last one ends.
The fuzzy-huggy-bunny-wuffy-ladybuggery adoption folks have this thing about the "red thread" that connects you to your magical baby that God (and it is usually God) has picked out for you and how that means that everything will work out for the best; you will always be tied to your love by this mystic invisible red thread.
But if there's anything I've learned in this journey towards the grave, it's that life itself is a tenuous thread, a spindly, blood-red thread that may break or fail at any time. One minute you'll be fine, the next one of you will be gone.
On the one hand, this is terrifying. The body that feels so sturdy, the life that seems so complete...a flu germ, a layoff, an affair, a little too much anesthaesia, and it is gone as thoroughly as the dream of a dream. Nothing is certain. Nothing can be counted on. All is vanity and striving after nothingness.
And yet...tilt your glance and it isn't.
Everything we humans build and are; every house, every love, every layer of fat, bone and muscle, is ephemeral. We are all doomed from the moment we are born. And yet in those moments between darkness and darkness, what towers we can raise! What loves we can lift, what momuments to strength and caring and honor and passion!!
If we choose.
So every day a little death...and yet, every day, every day, is a gift of life. Each time we hold our children, each day we tell our lovers we love them, each day we work and laugh and cry and love and hate...each day is a goddam miracle, and we live and move through them like gods, like heroes.
Or we can. We should.
So today, take a moment to savor your life. LIVE it. Listen to the rain. Meditate. Do a kata until it's as perfect as you can make it. Make a great cup of coffee and a buttered croissant.
Hug your daughter extra tight.
The night is dark and long. That branch may fall this way to tragedy instead of that way to trivia. But we can fear the dark and the fall, or we can bask in and savor the brilliant daylight that is all the brighter for coming between the sunrise and the sunset.
And I hope tomorrow you wake to a sunny day full of love and happiness, work hard, play foolishly, and go to sleep tired and content.
Every day you live you are a gift of love.