Looking out my backdoor: The 'real' meaning of life and other silliness

 

Last updated 9/24/2020 at 10:49am



When I sit at a blank page with no idea what I want to write, I go through who, what, when, where and how of the past several days to see what might pop up and out.

My life is simple. I read a lot. A lot. I read the phrase, “explains the real meaning of life,” in a book blurb. Blurbs operate as the worm on the end of the line that is meant to hook me into choosing to read that book.

“Real meaning?” I kid you not. Is there other meaning of life? Several meanings? Isn’t life simply life? Of course, I’d not choose that book, just on the basis of the blurb alone. But I laughed. It is funny.

A week later, still giggling over the phrase. I spread it out, applied it to include the “real” meaning of such disparate things as socks, wealth, peaches, truth, compassion and other “reals.”

Take socks. When I wear athletic shoes, I want socks. Can’t stand sweaty feet. Athletic socks, short and tight. Girl socks. Stretch out to here but fit my feet like Chinese bindings.

When Dr. Cruz Armenta X-rayed my body in preparation for surgery last winter, he tsked, tsked, and said, “You have arthritis in every joint of your body. Look here and here and here.” Until that moment I had no arthritis. Now arthritis plagues me, especially my feet, with tight socks.


Leo went to Costco Saturday in the Big City. I asked him to get me real socks, boy socks, socks that would let my toes stretch out. See, the “real” meaning of socks.

I gathered all my worn girl socks to throw in the basura. Leo asked, “May I take those to Julio’s mom. She is real poor. Real poor.” His actual words. Of course, I handed them over. I pass on my discards when they don’t fit well or were a poor buying choice. I would never have thought anyone else might want my old socks.

Peaches? For several years every peach I’ve bit into has been woody, tasteless, no juice. Finally “real” peaches showed up at the Mercado. Delicate, bursting flavor, juice to run down my chin. I bought a bounty. Sliced a bunch into a pie, oh, my, a “real” peach pie. My favorite, uh, along with rhubarb. But rhubarb doesn’t get imported to Mexico. Not that I’ve ever seen.

Friday night a situation was staged that had an impact on me. I was angry. I need not qualify angry with any adjective. Because another person is involved, I won’t reveal detail. I could have stomped over and demanded justice. Or recompense. Or revenge. I was that angry. I chose, because I’ve learned the hard way, to wait three days, to let reaction cool down to action, appropriate, if necessary.


I simmered down, decided to let the dispassionate universe (slowly ticks that clock) take care of the situation. The other person is, with a soul sickness, mowing down any who get in the way. Confrontation would of necessity be painful, most likely painful only to me.

I am a notorious chicken. I’d like to say I’m inspired by Gandhi. Or did I just bury my head in the sand? I don’t have an answer. This seems right to me today. What is truth? What is cowardice? What is compassion?

It is possible the “real” meaning of life is different for each of us.

Perhaps, for you, life means high excitement, bungee jumping, cliff diving, conquering Annapurna.

Life to me seems to be an ever-changing book of many chapters. My chapter today is pretty simple. My floor needed to be swept. I swept my floor. I hung a load of laundry on the clothes line. I fed myself a bowl of veggie/fish chowder. And a slice of peach pie.

Each of these simple tasks I did with a small sense of satisfaction.

Clouds are darkening the sky. I’d better bring in my laundry, surely dry already in this hot sunshine. I’ll probably grab a book and sit on the patio, read, look up now and then to watch butterflies. The huge white ones I call “bedsheets” have returned.

I’ll probably never figure out the “real” meaning of life. If you do, please let me know. Meanwhile, I live a simple, satisfactory life.

——

Sondra Ashton grew up in Harlem but spent most of her adult life out of state. She returned to see the Hi-Line with a perspective of delight. After several years back in Harlem, Ashton is seeking new experiences in Etzatlan, Mexico. Once a Montanan, always. Read Ashton’s essays and other work at http://montanatumbleweed.blogspot.com/. Email [email protected]


 

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