Lately I have been anxious, short tempered, and feeling out of sorts. Yesterday, I got a frozen yogurt. I had requested vanilla with fresh strawberries on top with some chocolate sprinkles. They were out of strawberries and I ended up with some sour mixture of raspberries and boysenberries, This pissed me off. It is one thing to have a shortage of toilet paper, but damn it…strawberries? You can kind of see the frame of mind I am in.
Then, deciding to eat the yogurt in my truck, when I took off the lid of the yogurt container, the berry juice and yogurt went flying all over me and my pants. I really lost it and fortunately my windows were rolled up. Very bad words spewed from my lips along with a quick analysis of people who work at yogurt shops.
As ugly as I get when I snap, crackle, pop, the one thing it makes me eventually do is to think “What the hell is going on with me?” Prior to crossing the boundary of emotional stability, I am not forced to face my feelings. I am managing them but not acknowledging them. So I sat down on my couch later that night and had a therapy session with myself, and Dr. G.
Dr. G: So what is really bothering you? I mean sometimes people do run out of strawberries.
Me: I know, I know….but goddamn it do they have to put more in the container than the container can actually hold? Doesn’t anyone teach these kids physics or volume… stuff? It pisses me off. Everyone is so inept or just doesn’t give a shit.
Dr. G: I know you pretty well and when you start cursing it usually means your emotions are in a knot. What tied that knot?
Me: I don’t know. I haven’t been sleeping very well. This new fire up the canyon, I mean 200,000 acres burned up. You know that fire started near where the one that burned down our town, killed 85 people, we lost everything, you know.
Dr. G: Have you been paying close attention to this new fire?
Me: You know me so well. Yes, I have been paying attention to this new fire… a lot of attention.
Dr. G: That makes sense. I would too. How much is a lot of attention?
Me: Day and night,
Dr. G: Looking at images of this new fire?
Dr. G: Okay, we are scratching the surface of your anxiety…trauma… but is it okay with you if we go just a little bit deeper?
Me: Could I stop you?
Dr. G: Sure, if you don’t mind looking like an idiot at the yogurt shop… This new fire, are you familiar with the land?
Me: Oh God yes. We’ve spent 40 years hiking, swimming, sledding, rockhounding, fishing, picnicking, camping. kayaking and just staring at the incredible beauty of that area. In my youth and young adult years, I did all those things in the Yuba River Canyon, but as a mature adult, living in Paradise which is part of that Feather River drainage, the area of this new fire was, was, was… my church. I felt God there.
Dr. G: Your home in Paradise, you had a beautiful yard, right?
Me: Yes. Our house was old but comfortable and the yard was like a park. People would just come over to soak up the vibe, the beauty. I guess the spirit.
Dr. G: So you lose the beauty at your home and now you lose access to your, shall we say, your sacred playground?
Me: Religion messed me up, big time. We have had that discussion before. But, beauty, especially through nature,… it…allowed for a deeper sense of myself, a timeless sense of my…self…and an unplanned…communion with God, Spirit, Creator, Mystery… I don’t have a name for it…my heart, my breath, my mind, all seemed to be synchronized to a holy rhythm and a sacred harmony.
Dr. G: Plato said something like that about music.
Me: Yeah, I might have plagiarized him a little bit there.
Dr. G: Sounds like to me, you have been kicked out of the Garden of Eden.
Me: I guess so…but if so, we all were kicked out by greed and mismanagement and bad oversight.
Dr. G: Yes, I agree but a lightening strike could have had the same effect, burning up your…church, as you call it. I have one more question for you. There are currently 80 major wildfires in the Western United States. Sea levels are rising, water temperatures are rising, droughts are increasing with major lakes about to go dry in California and beyond. Wells are going dry. Hurricane season starts earlier and lasts longer. Major floods that were described as once in 100 years are happening far more often than that. The list goes on and we haven’t even mentioned the pandemic. If beauty is where you seem to connect to a deeper self with a sense of timelessness in the presence of God, what are you going to do with this, shall we call it…the new normal?
Me: You’re depressing me…I don’t know.
Dr G: Okay, look, sometimes, many times, beauty is not so easily visible.. in nature, and in human nature. If you only believe in beauty when you see it…then…you are living…basically a hopeless life much of the time…. a life of no faith. Easy to get cynical. This beauty that touches you so deeply, maybe it is not the end all…just an invitation to go deeper, a pathway to something that fire cannot destroy, greed cannot destroy.
Dr. G: Yes, maybe. Have you been back to your property in Paradise lately?
Dr. G: Did you see anything new growing on your place?
Me: I was surprised at how the birch trees were still growing even without summer watering for two years… and flowers were coming back and some little oak trees were breaking through the soil.
Dr. G: Would you describe it as beautiful?
Me: Uh, yes in way, now that I think about it. I just stared in amazement at the new life.
Dr. G: Sort of a resurrection, huh?
Me: Yes, I suppose so. A resurrection.
Dr G: That sounds beautiful to me.
Me: Me too.