Tuesday, April 28, 2009

confused and unconfused

It was such a small thing for such a large delight:

Yesterday was filled with telephone calls and email and becoming more and more confused and freighted with the vagaries of what it means to retire. I got my first job when I was 15 in 1955 and, at first during summers and later as an all-day exercise, worked ever since. Now it is time to uncouple from or revise that habit structure, and the tendrils of the past create as much confusion now as they did satisfaction in that past.

I was on the phone and on the phone and on the phone. Each person was as helpful as he or she could be, but each clarity was attended by a concomitant uncertainty, a piling up of information that did not convene towards anything easy or sane. "The devil is in the details;" I was swamped with details; and it was devilish and tiring. Like a lot of other people, I do not have the balls for confusion or uncertainty: I want (et voila! -- the problem!) to make things easier, improved, better, unconfused.

After a while, I went outside, spread some granular fertilizer on the lawn and started up the weed wacker. It helped a little. What do weed wackers know from confusion and uncertainty and improvements?

But when I came back inside, the phone rang. Ooooh shit! -- not more confusion! But instead of additional devilish details, the female on the other end of the phone identified herself as a bookstore employee. Two years ago, I had left three books at the store on consignment. They had just sold out and the woman wanted to clear her ledger ... pay me my share.

The irony of selling three books in two years wasn't lost on me, but that, together with whatever small amount of money she planned to send, was not what interested me and made me somehow glad. What made my heart light was that someone might live up to a bargain they had made, however insignificant. How much easier it commonly is just to forget the small promises, to have bigger fish to fry, to let the 'little' stuff languish and be forgotten. Here, to my mind, was a responsible approach, one I could agree with and delight in. It was as if my view of the world were somehow vindicated and enhanced...but beyond that, isn't this the way things work better? Oh well, it just made me happy.

In a small bit of serendipity, I got a second call, this one from the company from which I have purchased incense in the past. No doubt their sales were feeling the effects of the current economic downturn and they were looking for more income, but I had been thinking off and on (but not very seriously ... I had bigger fish to fry) of calling up and ordering some more incense, so her call was welcome... it was as if she were helping me out. Thank you very much.

Thank you very much. What a good pointer.

Thank you for the uncertainties. Thank you for the responsible and irresponsible activities of this life. Thank you for helping. Thank you for withholding help.

Sometimes I can say thank you.

Sometimes not.

So it goes.

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