The Fragility of Life

Posted: October 5, 2012 by S. Trevor Swenson in Life, Observations
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“That which does not kill us, exhausts us.”
No, wait, that’s not right . . .

I couldn’t sleep so I got up and made myself a cup of Sleepytime tea. Since childhood I have always adored the picture on the Sleepytime box depicting a big bear in a nightshirt and night cap asleep in his easy chair as Momma Bear leads the cubs to bed. There is a crackling fire in the fireplace, an old fashioned radio on the table next to the dozing Mr.Bear, and a kitty curled up on the rug. The picture is about the comfy-coziest image ever, and makes me long for a fireplace. Chong the cat is asleep next to me on the bed after eating the better part of a plastic bag and puking, per his strange custom. I’m guessing the Sleepytime Tea artist didn’t want to ruin the cozy and homey theme of the picture by having a cat vomiting on the rug front of the crackling fire.

I once saw a psychiatric medication TV ad describe ADD as your mind “switching TV channels over and over, and being unable to stop”. I always found it to be a pretty fair analogy. That’s relatively close to what it’s like. “How do you manage to do anything?” People might ask…Well, it’s all I know, so it doesn’t seem like that much of a disability to me. English Bulldogs and Persian cats are often bred to have pushed in faces which doesn’t allow for great breathing. However, I don’t think these gorgeous animals mind because it’s all they know. It’s not like when we suffer from allergies or a cold and notice a difference in our breathing. So, I am sitting and drinking my tea, and changing channels in my mind like an energetic small child who has just discovered the wondrous bliss of the TV remote control. I was suddenly seized with an urge to look up Laura Ingalls-Wilder. If you didn’t already know Laura Ingalls-Wilder wrote a series of books about growing up on the American frontier in the late 1800s. More importantly, these books inspired one of my all time favorite TV shows; “Little House on the Prairie”. I don’t know why I love LHOTP so much. It’s maudlin to say the least. Every episode is another horrible chapter in the lives of these people. Crops destroyed by hail, daughter/sister goes blind, baby son dies, can’t afford shoes, a crop ruined by flood and another by draught, Blind daughter/sister opens a blind school…that burns down, killing Blindy Charles Wonder’s baby and for comic relief the town’s wealthiest family, owners of the “mercantile” continuously give the Ingalls’ a hard time. I’m guessing the suits at NBC weren’t crazy about the title “Never-ending Suckfest on the Prairie” I think I like the show because I am quirky (” a special little snowflake” is how my best friend puts it) I also used to watch it to annoy my mother, For some reason my addiction to “M*A*S*H”, Little House and other syndicated TV shows used to bug mom to no end…so of course I rolled with it. It speaks volumes as to what kind of person I am.

Random web pic that has nothing to . . . Ooooo, Boxing on HBO.

So while I was thinking about Laura Ingalls Wilder I did a quick google search and read up on her on Wikipedia. The internet is both a blessing and a curse for ADD commandos like myself. It’s great to be able to look up all the odd little things that bounce to and fro in my mind. The downside is I spend entirely too much time online and come away with way too much useless information to inflict upon anyone within earshot. As it turns out, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life really did suck. Barns burned down, husband crippled by disease, lost a little brother to crib death all the way up until the 1920s where they lost all their money in the stock market crash. Her 90 year life was a bi polar ebb and flow of fair and good years punctuated with disasters. I admired her resilience. I’ve known people who need anti-depressants when they can’t find Manolo Blahniks in the shade of brown they were looking for.

Of course this resilience and disaster medley made me think of my own life. I was FINALLY working, saving some money, slowly paying off my debts. I sweated out the lean Summer months at work anxiously awaiting the the busy and lucrative autumn months and football…Only to have it ripped from me during the first game of the season, the first fucking week of September and my Achilles tendon tears like the “slightly imperfect” underwear my grandmother used to buy for me by the pound. I’m out of the game for 2 months. Savings…poof…gone What had taken me a year to sock away in the bank dissipated like a fart on a windy day. I could kinda-sorta relate to the Ingalls shitstorm of a life. Imagine working every day as a farmer and without the benefit of tractors or harvesters. From 5 or 6 every morning to sundown…washing up in a creek if you’re lucky, chopping wood, repairing your home, working a second job just to have money and then for a goof God decides to throw a little hail or drought your way just before harvest time. The same God, by the way that you’ve been praying to every Sunday like clockwork. It put things into perspective for me. My life has been especially tough this year, but even though I lost my mom in March and lost my Achilles tendon in September, at least my barn didn’t burn down, and my coveted Jade trees on the fire escape weren’t eaten by a swarm of locusts and I don’t have a school for the blind to sweat.

A tough, old broad.

Last weekend my best friend came to visit me. She filled my cupboards and refrigerator with food, brought me enough cigarettes for a couple weeks, She did my laundry, took me out for brunch, football and beer, cleaned my kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. She cooked nice meals for both of us and was infinitely cheerful, sweet and affectionate. She listened to my fears, rants and complaints and helped put things in perspective as scary as they seemed to me. We laughed, hugged and we had great talks as always.

So, life is fragile. Recently I have been joking that according to Neitzche if this particularly rough year doesn’t kill me it will make me stronger. I hope so, but I suspect I’ll never be as tough as Mrs Wilder.

  1. lawliming says:

    Wow, you’ve been posting for a while. Love the stuff you write. 🙂 Keep it up

  2. Sank says:

    Your description of ADD is fantastic and I too don’t consider it a handicap, I like to say that it’s a gift that keeps out of day to day ruts. And then I say “wanna get some ice cream?” cause that’s how I roll, move fast.

    Love the thought that Internet is in fact a blessing and a curse. I too spending time on Wikipedia learning a littlw about a lot.

    You have a great blog here. Look forward to reading more, an adobf you to my links list.z


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