Friday, September 15, 2017

Black Holes and Rebar

You live most of your life inside of your head. Make sure it’s a nice place to be. Anonymous

There is a flower bed in front of the house that is mostly covered in red rock – lava rock, to be more precise. I know there are some people who delight in landscaping with rocks, but must admit I am not one of them. It isn’t because I don’t like the looks. True, I’m not crazy about the aesthetics, but that doesn’t bother me. What bugs me is they never stay put.

I don’t know when these rocks first made their appearance, but they’ve faded and gotten grimy over the past decade or two with the soot of both fires and smog. Lichen and moss have taken a toe-hold in the aforementioned layer of detritus, and gravity has played the Pied Piper, leading some of the rocks down off their bit of heaven enough to knock over the wall of brick that has, until now, kept those rascally boulders in place.

There is nothing sadder in this world to look at than a limp wall in serious need of a blue pill.

I figured it would be nearly impossible to overcome two-score years (or more) of rocks pushing and gravity pulling to fix that border, and breathed a sigh of relief at what had been my first intelligent thought of the day. But the peace and tranquility were quickly set aside when it was suggested that we needed to fix the border and return those pock-marked pieces of pumice to their proper places.

While I was tempted to locate my slide-rule, grab some paper and pencils, and outline all the reasons (scientific and otherwise) why those stones should be left unmolested and unturned, I resisted the impulse and, instead, said, “OK.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. First of all, at my age, hearing doesn’t come as naturally as it once did. Secondly, what I heard was a direct violation of the Prime Directive to not interfere in the natural evolution of other worlds (and I am neither vegetable nor mineral). And finally, it was at variance with the unseen forces of darkness that reside within my heart – which is to say, I’d have preferred to go off to play, gouge my eyes out with a rusty spoon, or doing almost anything other than yard work. Wow!

What caused this transformation, you ask? In a word: Acceptance.

We had a problem and it needed to be fixed. Until I could accept that fact for what it was, I would be miserable (or make life miserable for those around me). I would agonize over the insane thoughts of a thousand wild monkeys running rampant in the jungle of my imagination, or I could accept there was something that needed doing, and simply plan how best to get it done.

Anxiety, for me, is the Middle Man who needlessly drives up the cost of living, edging out all semblance of serenity. So, why not eliminate the Middle Man from the get go and just see what needs to be done and figure how to do it? Serenity is a decision, more than a discovery.

We could pay to have the border fixed, or we could do it ourselves. Those were our options, amongst which No was not.

So, by accepting the situation as it was and not as I wished it to be, I was free to examine the problem with an eye to finding what solutions were available, and which option might be best.

So I put on my work gloves (recently bought for such emergencies, such as saving money). We raked back the rocks, removed the brick slabs, dug a new trench, returned the bricks to their full and upright positions, and then went and bought some rebar to help support the bricks as they stand sentry duty over life’s rolling rocks.

I don’t know if rebar will restrain the relentless flow of life’s dried lava, but I do know that acceptance has stanched the rattling river of rocks rolling ‘round my head. Consequently, not only does the yard look nicer, but my mind is a more pleasant neighborhood, too. And that’s how it goes in this, our valley. So …

Rock on!