Do you know what I’ve discovered? If you don’t have a God, you sure as hell better get one! Shit is hitting the fan and there is nowhere to run—nowhere to hide. I’m beginning to think maybe the world is coming to an end or it’s doing a damn good job of faking it. Every day that we wake up there is something going on that is worse than the day before, and we never know when the chaos, murder, or mayhem (ranging from the smallest bacteria to the latest natural disaster) is going to strike our pathetic little lives.
Image from sodahead.com
My collision with the proverbial fan started a few days before Valentine’s Day. I was taking a break from writing and decided to check on the children’s well-being (ages 30 and 28) via their Facebook pages (I rarely comment, but like any good mother, I spy). The thirty year old was fine and seemed healthy enough, but Baby-girl’s posting about her encounter with the common cold almost made me hop a plane with a couple gallons of chicken soup and a tub of Vapor Rub:
“Sweeping declaration: this is the worst cold I’ve ever had. 4 days out of 6 spent entirely in bed, sleepless nights, overwhelming guilt about what I’m missing, single-handedly employing the good people at Bite Squad to ship in truckloads of chicken soup—countless tissues and cough drops later and all I can think is….I freaking love my dog, she is the best, the sweetest, the cutest and refuses to leave my side no matter what. She is my buddy. ” [Used by permission]
Wednesday Addams—Guard Dog Sick Duty|Photo by CDT
Like any decent mother, I was on the phone doing my combo nagging/worrying Momma jig as I jokingly said: “Child, you get sick more than anybody I know. You must not be taking care of yourself. I’m so glad I’m nowhere near you (sorry kid, nothing personal; I just can’t afford to get sick right now)—you sound so awful that I wouldn’t be surprised if that cold traveled thousands of miles through the cell towers and tried to zap me right off my non-sick feet. Just for grins and giggles, I think I’ll sterilize the phone in case you have an infection that defies science. Drink lots of fluids, get plenty of rest, take your vitamins and call me in the morning, cutie pie. MUAH!”
It is as if the gods of chaos, mayhem, and destruction heard my glib reply to my daughter and sent one of their oracles from Baby-girl’s city to stand at the entrance of my town dispensing “Infectious Coryza” curses (the common cold) as if it were Oprah giving out cars to a handful of lucky winners, because I came down with the cold from Hell within 24 hours of the phone call with my sick kid.
Oprah “Give Aways”
It’s been six days! Six days of my life being turned upside down by a common cold which, can I state for the record, is not “common” by any means? This torture was tailor-made for me. Six days of in-and-out fever, hacking, mucus—my God, the rivers of mucus—the aches, the pains, and a high-pitch ringing in my left ear that I am quickly lapsing into insanity over as I keep slapping my ear while turning in frantic circles like a dog chasing his tail to try and catch the sound or make it go back to the Hell from which it emerged. If Lennon was right and “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” then “shit just happened” to me and I was definitely not making plans to encounter Infectious Coryza. It destroyed my Valentine’s dinner with WW and turned it into a “Valentine’s Fail” because there ended up being no dessert that night (see “Epic Valentine Fails” http://howthehelldidienduphere.wordpress.com/). Enough said! I could hardly taste the delicious food and wine at my retirement dinner nor could I shake the concern that I might be killing off some very lovely people with my infection from Hell at the dinner party. I’ve been in a complete fog at work (how much did I actually get done?), and I haven’t been able to write anything coherent for days which caused me to miss my blog deadline. It hurt to even read so I dropped off the grid, and in just six days (not counting the mayhem, murder, and chaos in the Middle East and Africa that is always happening) I discovered that shit hit the fan in so many bizarre situations causing innocent lives to implode:
- An LAPD cop (Christopher Dorner) lost his mind and went on a killing rampage because he had been wronged on his job (who hasn’t been wronged on a job, and when did this become a license to kill?)
- The South African Olympian Blade Runner (Pistorius) allegedly shot and killed his girlfriend in a jealous rage (Yikes!)
- A sorry-ass excuse of a man (Joe Rickey Hundley) flying on a Delta flight allegedly slapped a toddler (not his own—not that that would make any difference) across his face and left a scar, just because the baby was crying from an earache due to pressure from the plane landing, and to add insult to injury, Mr. Hundley allegedly called the baby the “N-word” (Huh?).
- A 10-ton meteor traveling at 40,000 mph exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk hurting over 1,000 people and exploding copious windows for miles around. It didn’t even land; can you imagine the damage if it had hit the Earth? (Did you know this happens all the time in Russia? It just usually happens over Siberia where few people live. The meteor that exploded near the Tunguska River in 1908 leveled 80 million trees and had this happened over a large metropolis, the meteor would have obliterated the entire city and its inhabitants—Holy Mary, Mother of God!)
- Fellowes killed off Matt Crawley on Downton Abbey (seriously, Fellowes, don’t I have enough stress?)
- A cruise ship (Carnival Triumph) left port on a 4-day cruise and got stranded at sea with only a couple of working toilets and 4,000 plus people, no air conditioning, not enough food, limited alcohol, and sewage back-up. (Do I hear a mash-up of the Gilligan’s Island and the Love Boat theme songs making its way to YouTube?)
When I finally checked Dalai Mama’s Twitter account after six days of being knocked out by a common cold, sure enough my fans had a lot to say about bad things happening to good people citing the news articles I’d just gotten caught up on. But the most delightful tweets were the Twitter feed from a couple of my fans on Carnival Triumph who sent me very creative reasons to never cruise again.
Cartoon by Chan Lowe|image from South Florida Sun Sentinel
“Shit Happens”/a tribute to the Carnival Triumph Mishap
Sung to the tune of “Love Boat by Paul Williams and Charles Fox
(My humble apologies to P. Williams and C. Fox)
CRUIS-ING—exciting and new!
Went onboard—sought a fantasy come true.
The TRI-UMPH—was a horror at best.
Shit seeping through the walls; shit flowing in the halls.
THE TRIUMPH—it won’t be making another run
THE TRIUMPH—just was too shitty for anyone.
Paid for steak, wine, and vodka
Got onions and mayonnaise.
And cruising—one of life’s great rewards
We’re so sick at sea—we just may swim to shore
There were 96 other verses on Dalai Mama’s Tweeter feed of “Shit Happens” (my readers obviously had a lot of time on their hands) but you get the point. Dalai Mama’s readers paid for an expensive cruise and were expecting luxury, instead, “shit happened”—literally, and they got to cruise on a floating giant toilet with no air conditioning, no alcohol to numb their sorrows, and no gourmet food to assuage their pain. In other words, they went in search of Heaven and landed in Hell. C’est la vie.
Cartoon by Simeon Liebman|image from London Times
I am discovering that no one ever wakes up in the morning and says, “today I’ll die in a Holocaust, get stranded at sea, or get shot by a madman.” I am also discovering that bad things really do happen to good people, and we have little or no control over them when they do. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, male or female, black or white, religious or non-religious. (Although, I’m getting a little sick and tired of never knowing when the sky is going to fall or when I’m going to get hit by the common cold or WWIII.) I’ve got so many questions to ask God in order to try and make some sense of all of the chaos in world history.
I watched Roman Polanski’s The Pianist (a story about Polish-Jewish musician Władysław Szpilman, whose family was exterminated by the Nazis and who, himself, barely survived the occupation of Poland) while I was sick. I was speechless through most of it. Why? Why? Why? What was the point of all that hellish suffering? And even though I get that we have no control over natural disasters (especially meteors), why should a two-year old adopted baby flying with his mommy have to learn so early in life that a stranger can cross the line, hate him, call him derogatory names, and hit and hurt him when he’s already in pain from an earache that he can’t control? Why should a disgruntled cop be allowed to obliterate the hopes and dreams of people who had nothing to do with his grievances? Why should the friends and families of all the gunshot victims we’ve been mourning from Sandy Hook to Chicago be battling anything today except possibly trying not to catch the common cold? Years ago when I was stupid and self-righteous, I would have had pat answers to these questions. Nowadays, since I’m entering my twilight years, the only thing I know for sure is that my response to suffering seems to mean so much more to my character, in the long run, than my ability to control every aspect of my life. No one likes to suffer—least of all me. But maybe Richard Bach has a point when he says: “The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls the butterfly.”
“The person I choose to be from the suffering that is thrust upon me”|photo by “WW” Tomczyk
“In the final analysis, the questions of why bad things happen to good people transmutes itself into some very different questions, no longer asking why something happened, but asking how we will respond, what we intend to do now that it happened.”—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
“No man is broken because bad things happen to him. He’s broken because he doesn’t keep going after those (bad) [parenthesis mine] things happen.”― Courtney Milan, Unraveled
“Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.”― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
“Let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolve for the day:
- I shall not fear anyone on Earth.
- I shall fear only God.
- I shall not bear ill will toward anyone.
- I shall not submit to injustice from anyone.
- I shall conquer untruth by truth. And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
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