I listen to the pounding rain outside as I read news of snow in San Diego, rain in Tucson, icy pileups on the Golden Gate bridge. I wrote this 2 years ago during the massive rainstorms that flooded the island. At the time I was surrounded by wild devastation, and the personal sorrow of losing a friend.
Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
(Samuel Taylor Coleridge: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner)
How odd it is to witness a storm that drenches this rock with so much water, then exist for days on end with not a drop to drink (or shower, or flush). The Storm mimicked my mood: pride, tension, a release of pent up energy, then the rain, wind, waves, then the floods and destruction.
The drought of the sinks would almost be bearable: an adventure, a few days of change in routine. Paper plates, showers at work, laundry piling up. Catching rainwater and skimming the leaves out to flush the toilets… Somehow it connects us to the earth and the fury and consequences of nature. Schools have closed, shops and restaurants are cut back. Port-a-potties everywhere and no fountain drinks at McDonalds. But our thirst is made so much worse by the abundance of water everywhere. The whole damn Pacific Ocean surrounds us! Everywhere the rain has caused rivers and lakes that weren’t there before; people’s houses are flooded, my carseat is wet! Oddly enough it was probably the weight of the flooding that caused the watermain to break in the first place.
So this is our punishment for our comfort, ego, hubris…This is our slap for becoming comfortable in the public services that protect us. A dry reminder of our powerlessness in the face of nature, and a wakeup call for our lonely rock. We are perched on this tiny violent shard with Nature’s anger knocking on our door. It is truly an amazing, humbling place.
And exhausting. I have been tired this week. I think I am just pushed too far. Tired of straining leaves out of the toilet tank. Tired of worrying that I will hydroplane off the road and lose my car in class 5 rapids in the drainage ditch. Tired of the rain and the mold in my house. Tired of fighting for friendships gone. Last night I went dancing. I just told it all to get away. Didn’t take a shower at work. Didn’t scrounge for food. Made tea out of precious drinking water… you get the point… So I went dancing: not clubbing, but just dancing hosted by crunchy hippies playing good music. Got my heart rate up and sweated like I had a future date with a shower. Danced to my tiredness, irritation, powerlessness, the storm, and the drought of it all. Drought of water, ease, understanding, patience and friendship. It was great. I was warm, sweaty, expressing. Went home and fell asleep. When I woke up early this morning (early, so I could get to work early and shower), stumbled to the kitchen to start my tea, and to the bathroom… Oh! The simple joy of turning the tap and having water come out! Fresh, clean, hot, potable water! (I would call it a rain dance if it hadn’t been raining forever, already) I may dance again tonight. Or I may go home and experience the simple joys of laundry and doing dishes.
My friend R told me a story of this storm: She lives next to our friend the Magician. During the storm his dove-cote fell over and all his doves got out, and were being tossed about in the wind and rain. She was the only one home, and she was running around in the yard, trying to catch and secure six retired magic doves. The image was so tragic and beautiful: her jungle of a yard on the cliff being blasted by wind, rain and surf. The delicate white doves being slammed into trees, tossed in the wind. The grey/green of the air during a storm like that filled with white feathers. She was able to catch five doves. The sixth dove was blown out to sea and never seen again. I understand why ancient Hawaiians developed their spirituality around Nature. I am not afraid of sharks, storms, eruptions or being blown out to sea. None of these deaths seem particularly tragic: they seem somehow connected to the energy of the planet. Feeding the volcano, so to speak. What does seem tragic is being hit by a bus, an overdose, wasting away with no hope and a beaten self-image... letting a friendship go for the comfort of a bottle and a line in the sand. I think about that dove. I have a secret hope that one day it will appear in some magician’s hat, with no excuses nor explanations, just pop up like an old forgotten friend.