A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Down In The Flood

Floods in my own village, Winter 2012-13.

Blog friend and Ohio resident Grizz at Riverdaze was recently flooded out. He's back in his riverside cottage now, but there's been mess to clear up and the loss of some furniture of sentimental value. I commented on one of his posts about his attitude to it all, and he replied at length. It was such an inspiring and heartwarming response I thought I'd share it with you all. This must be one of the most exceptional replies to a blog comment I have ever received.

The Solitary Walker:

I enjoyed and was inspired so much by this post, Grizz. Though I'm not enjoying thinking of your sentimental losses, and your arduous work to come.

But what I am heartened by is your attitude and spirit. Yes, so heartened and encouraged and absolutely delighted by it! You give us all a reason for living, and for enduring hardship, my friend.

And, as you say, there's always someone worse off than ourselves. Much worse off.

Your stay with the Cherokee family was educational and inspiring. What a rich world, if only we had the eyes to see it.



I appreciate your kind words, my friend. Trust me, I'm a sentimental fool about way too much. Yet, oddly, I seem to be able to let these things go with barely a twinge. And as to the work ahead...much will be difficult and frustrating. And maybe, for me, impossible. If that's the case, I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. But for now, it's just out there waiting—a little scary, perhaps, the sheer amount that will be necessary, but still not in a bad way. A sort of exciting fright, understand? An adventure, or rather a series of adventures—problems to solve, techniques to learn, materials and designs to master. Or at least muddle through adequately enough.

I used to think adventures were those big things you did somewhere else—generally somewhere strange and wild and dangerous. The kind of adventures H. Rider Haggard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Jack London, and about a hundred other authors whose books I devoured wrote about. 

In fact, I read it so much and so eagerly that I ended up, in a small way, devoting my life to one of endless rambles and outdoor adventures—always being willing to leave the group or the trail if some place or rumor "over yonder, in back of beyond" promised even more adventure. 

I expect I've never fully grown up, but I have wised up a bit. Now I understand that adventures come in all shapes and sizes, foreign and domestic, and can involve every aspect of our lives. In point of fact, life is the biggest adventure of all…one we each share…and it happens every single day. So when I say I view what has happened and more importantly, what is yet to happen, as an adventure, I was being quite honest. It's not just a matter of perspective, but rather of philosophy—mine, anyway, and Myladylove's. Life happens. To all of us, whether we like it or want it to, or not. Adventure lies ahead like a waiting lion. I dread it and am thrilled by the prospects. Crazy? Maybe.

Moreover, right now, it is 0˚F outside, heading to a night's low of around -5˚F. There are piles of snow beyond my doorway windows—several inches of which fell today. I can hear the river out there in the darkness, still churning over the riffle stones. It sounds cold. Yet there's a cheery fire burning in the woodstove and the great room—concrete floor and all—is a comfortable 68˚F. Myladylove is asleep in a nearby chair. My beloved old dog is curled up on a pad near the hearth, snoring peacefully. Between jabs at the keyboard (I've temporarily set my computer up on our dinning table) I'm nibbling on oatmeal cookies I made yesterday—a belated but delicious dessert after the pork roast I fixed for tonight's supper. In a few minutes, I'll toss a night log on the fire, damp the stove, let Moon out for her final round, and wake my sleeping ma...and we'll subsequently all toddle off to our dry, cozy beds. 

Definitely not anywhere close to hardship. Yet the same cannot be said for so very many folks who share this spinning world. And not just in faraway lands...but close to home. Possibly just down the street. You never know. So many do lead lives of quiet desperation, of neglect and abuse, pain, want, need. My current travails are mere piddles in the dust. They amount to nothing. I well know that I'm fortunate, and blessed.

This is, indeed, a rich and wonderful world, in spite of all its problems. A beautiful world. A would I cherish and delight in and love.


George said...

Nice that you reproduced this, Robert. I, too, was inspired by the optimism and sense of perspective that Grizz brought to the misfortunes associated with the flood. There is a great deal we can learn here if we are willing to listen. Whatever predicaments come our way, there are always others who are in worse shape.

Ruth said...

It is all too easy to complain about this brutal winter, and I hear everyone around me at work and elsewhere doing just that. It is understandable, when your fingers ache in just five minutes outside, and driving has been treacherous since November. But Grizz and his adventurous spirit are beautiful, and I feel a subtle transformation inside as a result of reading this post (and going to Riverdaze to read it there). Thanks so much for reproducing it, Robert.

Grizz………… said...

Thank you, Robert. You do me quite the honor…though I certainly didn't perceive my post to be either wise or inspiring, merely expressing the way I go about viewing such setbacks when they suddenly derail plans and upset my life. Either my own philosophy, or my own coping mechanism—take you pick.

The natural response to bad stuff befalling us is to curse and wail at the top of our lungs to all who will listen—WHY ME! And don't think I haven't gone this route many times in the past.

Yet while I'm hardheaded to the point of near-incorrigibility, I eventually managed to learn that the long view often gives the more accurate picture. Perspective counts. The clarity of situational common sense can then be better invoked. Sometimes, quite surprisingly, the end of the world is revealed to be just a bump in the road…and given time, energy, and understanding, you can pick yourself up, patch your cuts and scrapes, and get moving again—even if you do have to limp along for awhile.

Water, food, shelter, heat. Those are the essentials. Add love, poetry, and beauty and you're richer than half the world's inhabitants. The rest, as Raymond Carver put it in one of his final poems, is just gravy.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I follow Grizz too Robert and am always inspired by his posts.

Amanda said...

This was all too beautiful to read and so welcome, here, this morning, this start of a new week. Words to cherish, and to live by. Grizz is a modern mystic.

Friko said...

You are right to publish this, Robert.
A truly inspirational attitude to the hardships of life.
It must be wonderful to have him for a friend.

I hope your own feet are dry?

The Solitary Walker said...

Well, there you have it, Grizz - five people who are inspired for a start! I know you are quite humble about your writing, and it seems to come fairly naturally and fluidly to you (I think I'm right? — it's often difficult to know the ins and outs of a writer's craft ), but, believe me, many of us are very much affected and inspired by your good humour, ease of style, love of nature and humanitarian philosophy!

am said...

That's so true, Grizz. The rest is gravy. Sounds as if you are able to take things one day at a time after the flooding.