Just when you think you’ve reached your quota of jellyfish, life throws a few more (or a really big one) at you. But the same goes for sundogs – they just appear without reason, shining their lovely spectrum of colored light all over your eyeballs.
I was just getting beginning to feel better after the national (and my personal) malaise over the Arizona shooting tragedy. It seems like the victims didn’t die or suffer in vain, after all. There seems to truly be a lot less yelling and name-calling going on in national politics. Both legislators and citizens seem more willing to pull together now. We all have more awareness about gun control and mental health issues and how special and precious each life really is.
Two weeks later, I was settling down into a nice routine with a new experiment in my writing life: an old crit buddy and I agreed to try collaborating on some short stories. He has this incredibly fertile imagination and I have the toolbox, the literary filler, and the word-whacking polish. I’ve also nabbed an interesting telecommute job that is pushing me to use new editing skills and old.
I was zooming along early one morning, telecommuting and word-whacking, and discovered via my e-mail electric bill that my vacant home had a larger than usual fee due. Which meant pretty much one of two things – either someone had taken up residence there, which would be unusual in that people who do that usually choose McMansions and not 30-year-old trailers. That left the other diagnosis: the well pump might be running frequently due to a water leak.
I was right. The trailer is toast – very soggy toast. My writing buddy says my life reminds him of the “Perils of Pauline”. As there are all sorts of water exclusions with home insurance policies, I may not receive a thin dime for the accident. The state of my water main is a mystery, as I thought the only main was the one at the tank and pump - and because my well is shared by a neighbor, that had to be left on. Heat – well, the pipes freeze there even with the heat on.
I was crushed for a few days – who wants to lose part of an investment that is due for a fix and up for sale? I even considered moving back in later this year. But I soon recovered as there’s not a darn thing I can do about it now. The whole mystery about the water main and its unusual placement should have been solved by me before gallivanting off to slay dragons and put out fires. Old trailers aren’t worth much, though if it had been struck by lightning and burned down, I’d probably have gotten a check for a new home by now. There’s the distinct possibility that the leak is long-term, not a by-product of the New Year’s weekend freeze, and that means I may still get that check, or some reimbursement. An engineer has made an assessment and I’m awaiting the verdict. Live and learn.
The sundogs started shining when I received a generous donation by a lovely couple who have published a New Age newsletter for many years. Avaton and Vikki of CAC in Olympia, WA rock. At the very least, if I get nothing from the insurance company, with the kind donation I’ll be able to have the soggy box pulled off the property. This is a pretty good thing. Just the thought of the donation warms my heart so much that I’ve forgotten my initial shock after the neighbors looked around the trailer.
I’d like to think that my years of donating and paying things forward have all come full circle. This is definitely a sundog moment. The writing life is like that too. Artistic endeavors aren't just about honing one’s skills. I think when you reach out to other writers and share what you learn, whether it’s through a critique group or by volunteering time to a writer’s guild, or volunteering to help children read and write in your local schools, your own writing improves in leaps and bounds. As all our lives are improved by generosity, so is our art. I suspect that all aspects of life are involved in this continuous interplay of cause and effect, that it isn’t simply our own personal efforts to succeed that make the biggest difference in our lives. It's our willingness to serve others and work with others that marks the break-out line between success and failure.
So I’ll keep muddling along, doing my do, and when I have more skills or excess resources to share, will pay them forward. I really like to see those sundogs between the jellyfish days. And I enjoy YOUR successes too.
Winter View from the Old Homestead
Puja Robinson © 2008