I wake befuddled in April from a dream in which I searched for a lost cat. I know the lost cat dream. I have had it before.
Being my Freudian father’s daughter, I interpret the dream to mean that I am attempting to recapture my lost innocence. Although often a futile and exhausting enterprise, as both a cat and innocence can so easily slip away, this time I got lucky. In the dream, two women from Topanga, Kimmie Lilliedahl and Sue Schmitt, came to my door and handed me a paper shopping bag with the cat tucked safely inside. I was overjoyed and I, here, take this opportunity to thank them. But then I woke up and I wasn’t innocent anymore.
Things I Have Learned
I’m ten times more lazy than I ever would have thought
The cat likes Cheetos
Closets do not clean themselves
The days somehow run together tumbling over each other, mixed up like clothes in our dying dryer. Not knowing which day is which, I fall into the habit of thinking every day is Sunday. Sunday, when we were free of toil; Sunday when we would lie in the hammock; Sunday when God walks and the only interruption in our idyll is the darn car club roaring through Old Canyon causing the Beleaguered Husband to say rude things. Sunday, a day off when the light fades softly, and the frogs croak early, and the wine is clear and cool.
But today isn’t really Sunday. This is another day, and I cannot hide from our world and my place in it, even though Nordstrom with their online ads, would have me say, “To hell with it all, I’m buying a pair of strappy sandals.” Ah, if only I’d get that stimulus check.
I recall just a few weeks ago, comforting myself with the fact that at least across our world we were currently battling a virus, and not each other.
Ah, but humans are only human and in times of uncertainty, fear, possible financial ruin, without access to Disneyland, and the hair salon, alas, we turn on each other.
So, humans, if confined and feeling that they have no control over a situation pick up a gun. Granted we have only been on the planet 200,000 years.
Things I Have Learned
I’m apt to congratulate myself on the smallest of accomplishments, like getting up
Watching a bird build its nest is immensely satisfying
The purple hair-dye washes out
With the library closed I’ve taken to my own trusty, though dogeared book collection, The Hobbit, Out of Africa, The Wind in the Willows, Seasons at Eagle Pond, and just finished re-reading Madeleine L’Engle’s classic, A Wrinkle in Time. In the story some children are shown via a crystal ball, an image of earth from another planet. They see the earth is being threatened by an engulfing blackness.
I think about our planet and its place in the universe and beyond. I wonder how our earth might appear in these times from far out in space, if it were viewed not just as the familiar blue green globe we are used to seeing but mapped as a sort of infrared reading of the mindset of those who inhabit the third rock from the sun.
How would the earth look if, instead of topography, the true thoughts and feelings of we humans were illuminated, charted, and depicted in pulses and waves of colors; if all the kind and caring and loving thoughts would swirl in bright rainbow hues, as if dancing, while the ugly, angry, and hateful feelings would appear as brooding, bubbling dark things, rising up as if from a leaking septic tank, and hang, noxious and menacing, in the air.
At this time in 2020—when our entire planet should be working together as humans, as one species united in a brave effort to stem a contagion, and when that is accomplished, morn and honor our losses, celebrate our efforts, and reach out to help an economy, small and large—would we rise up? How would we fare now through such a lens? Would the ignorance, anger, petty bickering, lies, and name calling, put out the light?
I like to think Topanga, filled with so many in our community who cast their own bright, shining spark, would blaze forth, visible even from a long distance, like the Fourth of July, and somebody would point from way far off in the universe and say, “That’s Topanga.”
Yet here, even in our rarefied air, sadly there appear cracks of discord (Nextdoor anyone?), through which escape hissing vapors strong enough to choke a flying pig.
Things I Have Learned
A watched pot doesn’t boil unless you have nothing better to do but stand there and watch it
Bureaucracy will drive one to drink
You don’t have to put on lipstick when wearing a face mask
Maybe it is time we on this planet received some help from other sources. Perhaps some benevolent beings from another planet of a higher intelligence could lend a hand, just a bit of guidance, point us in the right direction, for God’s sake, help us rise from mud to grace, to stand like The Whos, “heart to heart and hand to hand,” or at least eliminate the game of beer pong. But then, those of higher intelligence might be too intelligent to interact with us. Conceivably, such entities may have passed by before, shook both their heads and said, “Not yet, not yet.” Someday they will be back.
Things I Have Learned
Some sleep attire can pass for real clothes
I have a crush on Marty Balin, especially when he sings “Miracles” with Jefferson Starship
Somewhere, along the line, Miranda grew up
It is quiet in our canyon, although now and then I can hear children laughing, somewhere. And the days pass into days and what difference if I have potato chips for breakfast, pie for lunch, maybe a corndog in between, just pretend I’m on vacation. Maybe I’ll just watch another old movie, more scary news, how about checking out how Aunt Bea is doing on an old episode of The Andy Griffith Show? But it will not behoove me to fall into such slovenly habits if I have a world to save.
Since I cannot depend on aliens and if every day is Sunday, then I’d better rise up myself, get dressed and go ring the bell. The bell is just down the road at the Topanga Christian Fellowship Church. Every day during the COVID-19 pandemic, between 10 a.m. and noon, Ellie Carroll, a light in herself, welcomes all, of whatever domination or not, to come pull the tasseled cord. She says, “In these times this is to remind us there is still light in the Canyon.”
So, I went, on what could have been a Sunday (but was really a Wednesday, I hear), with ever-feisty neighbor Barbara Allen and the intrepid Editor-in-Chief of this august publication, one Flavia Potenza.
I may not be able to do mighty things, but I can do this. I can ring a bell for the greater glory of the whole human race. And from up high, in its cupola, the chimes pealed clear and true.
What I Have Learned
Where we live is still so beautiful