Saturday, May 19, 2012

Gratitude Part II

Ah, Seattle. The bane and source of my existence these days. I have to say I was looking forward to arriving on Wednesday. I woke up at 5:30 AM and started to take a "shower". To be clear, taking a shower in Flame amounts to squatting in an over sized sink, wetting yourself while trying not to soak the rest of the room, then rinsing off. It's cold and awkward.... and on this particular morning, I ran out of water. Awesome! So, I dressed and went about the task that I should have completed the day before. I went out and dragged the "new" used 5000 Watt generator down to the well head. I grabbed all the gear I had purchased to wire the 240 V ("220. 221. Whatever it takes" -Michael Keaton) well head so I could run it off of this generator, plugged it in and fired it up for the first time. She fired on the first pull just as the previous owner had promised. I threw the switch, the pump engaged and water began to mercifully flow from the connected hose. I filled the tank on flame. It is one thing for me to be without water, but it is entirely another for my wife to deal with it.

I grabbed my bags and left for the airport feeling dirty and half-in-the-bag. I kept looking at my watch and trying to deal with the fact that the time was just not adding up. I finally realized that I had intended to leave the house 3 hrs before the flight, not wake up 3 hrs before the flight. Jesus, I was just not firing on all 8. Then I couldn't find a fucking parking place. I arrived at the gate just as my boarding group was getting on. Suffice it say, I made it and got my isle seat, which is mandatory for me as much as I am traveling these days. I took a deep breath and sat there staring into the blackness of my own mind.

When I arrived at my little hotel in Bellevue, Andrea greeted me with a smile. She is a fixture at this place and without her I am certain no reservation would ever be successfully made. She asked how things were going and I responded with something about being excited to take a standup shower. She smiled but it was more of a grimace. I suppose she was putting herself in Kristen's shoes with the prospect of squatting in a large sink and taking a "bird bath", as we call it. I can hardly blame her.

The shower was exquisite! I ironed my clothes and headed off into the irony of my life; traveling to Seattle and living in a hotel is the most normal thing I've got going. And I have to say, this project has been the most challenging and demanding bit of work I have ever done. You can set your fucking watch by Murphy's Law on this project. We were supposed to have all development finished by COB Friday and I was leaving at 1:00 to catch my flight. Everything was going well and it looked like we were actually going to make it. Right on schedule, Murphy showed up. At 12:30 the goddam wheels came off and literally everything fell apart. I simply had to laugh. What else was I going to do? I sat and observed my physical reaction to it without engaging in the inevitable panic that was to follow. This is the gift of choice at work. I just smiled and sent a text to Kristen. I got up at 1:00, grabbed my shit and trusted that the incredible team I have around me would sort things out.

When I arrived back in Denver and caught the Wally Park shuttle back to my car, I had a chance to unwind, as I always do upon arriving. It becomes difficult to keep my eyes open on that short ride. On this trip, it was still light outside and the sweet smell of Colorado summer hung thick in the air. The familiar blackness started to settle in. WTF!? This is the human condition, "why, it's all fucked, it always has been fucked, it's fucked right now and it will always be fucked." At least that's my brand of it. A line from a Jane's addiction tune played in my head, "there ain't no wrong, there ain't no right.... there's only pleasure and pain..." Really? Do I really believe that?

I started to inquire into the blackness. I heard the quote, "There is no wrong or right, only thinking makes it so..." or some variation of that. But still it persisted. Up until now, this had been all the automatic stuff, the wiring we are born with, the survival code that is programmed into our brains. It is the "us" that most of us refer to when we say things like, "I don't feel like it," or "you really pissed me off when you..." It requires nothing from the actual US and does not even require that WE be present in the conversation. The real WE arises when we observe that reaction and begin to ponder a different one. It takes work and everything in us will scream at us to accept the status quo. It's what we know.

So, I chose to start making a mental list of all the things I was grateful for. I have to tell you, this really took some effort. I was calling bullshit on everything I came up with. "Well, I am alive and living in Colorado, I've got that going for me." And I would retort, "Horse shit. Get real. Quit trying to put lipstick on a pig." But I kept going. I listed my wife, who loves me, my dogs, my friends, our awesome little trailer on our lot, my 10 fingers and toes, my ability to listen to and enjoy music, to speak and feel connected through language... on and on. Pretty soon, the world was a sweeter place. Just taking, as Kristen would say, a simple action led to extraordinary results.

And when I arrived home, Kristen had cleaned the trailer, there was space to breathe. We had my new "man cave" placed on the pad of my burned up shed (a 20 x 8 steel shipping container). We lost nearly everything and I have the experience of having it all. I happily settled into Flames comfortable, albeit small, interior and waited for my wife to come home. We talked and snacked on the abundance of food we have packed into our small fridge. I slept until 9:00 am on this rainy Saturday and sit here drinking our fantastic coffee and sharing this process with all of you. Who could ask for more?


  1. You are one amazing and brilliant man. I count my blessings being married to you. PS - Flame loves you too.

  2. As a side note, I was introduced to the best coffee in Seattle and some of the best coffee I have ever had this week. A little place called Caffe Ladro and I am a new card carrying fan. Litterally, I have a card. Like a Starbucks card but for really good coffee.