What I learned today: splitting open a black walnut with your fingers will leave your fingers stained…bet you can’t guess!…black (which fades to a nice sepia after a spell). A friendly woman walking our way told us it won’t come off for two weeks. Actually, I never thought she was that friendly (I see her walking, intensely, on a regular basis) until today. And come to find out she used to sell books!
But Jonah and I take our inked fingers as a badge of honor, he and Gabriel and I having taken turns throwing the thing as hard as we could to the concrete in an effort to break it open but only finally getting the outer skin removed (the juicy bit where the ink resides). We all took turns hammering at the nutshell proper until it finally cracked, revealing its lovely, cubby-holed interior and an oil-black papery thin piece of something that would have been a nut someday. But what fun!
What I learned this week: a thrombosed hemorrhoid doesn’t hurt as much as giving birth without pain medication. Which is to say…No. That’s all I’m saying.
What I realized (I’d like to say learned, but learning implies a level of mastery) while taking what must have been my fourth sitz bath yesterday: I haven’t been writing enough, which translates to I haven’t been praying enough, a fact as clear to me as a perennially empty bank account or the reality of my family living nearly 1000 miles away.
It is catalog season, and I am at it. That, in correlation with the beginning of the school year has done a number on me. Jonah and I have struggled (maybe me more than him); Gabriel has taken it in stride; John—well, he is a man of vision, and a man of vision at a small college means he is also a man of one thousand administrative tasks (each of which pokes a hole, draining him of vital spirit by week’s, sometimes day’s, end). A dear friend, far away, is struggling mightily. My mother’s knees are going out, my father’s back is too.
Sometimes when I walk at dusk as the interiors of houses glow out at me, I wonder about the worlds the people in those homes inhabit. I wonder about their children and their work. I wonder about their spouses. I wonder if they are suffering. I wonder if they are at happy, at peace.
Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827) wrote,
A world of dew,
and within every dewdrop
a world of struggle
And it’s true, isn’t it? So, inspired by Pat in The Silver Linings Playbook (if you’ve only seen the movie, do pick up the book—if you haven’t seen the movie, read the book first), I am trying in my weary way to practice being kind instead of right. I failed a dozen times today, but here I go again.
This world of dew
is only a world of dew —