Something I’ve realized in life that things can always be worse. Events can be unfolding that seem both incredibly unlikely and incredibly inconvenient, yet things can always be worse.
Setting: Somewhere past Noyes Lane. Address only retrieved upon dispatcher’s advice to find a piece of mail.
Time of Day: Late. Sometime past midnight.
Tone: Tired. Long day. Just arrived, moved to new housesitting gig after packing up/cleaning house all day and then offering a Kirtan at a local yoga studio.
Enter Stage Left, Upstairs: GIRLFRIEND
G: (towards off-stage) Have you seen the cat? I’m looking up here but … (on-stage) Oh, there you are Skippy. Say, what’s that noise like a crackling fire coming out of the chimney? And what are those embers floating down outside the window? Hmmm …
Exit Stage Left.
Enter Stage Right, Downstairs: COMPADRE
C: (towards off-stage) Hey, G this fire’s getting a little hot and … woah, it’s smokey down here.
Enter Stage Right, Downstairs: GIRLFRIEND
G: Woah, C! There are embers outside! And smoke everywhere! And that chimney is red-hot!
C and G jump to action then freeze, stage lights dim to black.
Exit Stage Right: COMPADRE and GIRLFRIEND
Enter Stage Right, Downstairs: PARAMEDIC 1, FIREMAN 1, FIREMAN 2, FIREMAN 3, FIREMAN 4 followed by COMPADRE and GIRLFRIEND
FIREMAN 1: Well, it looks like everything is under control here. The chimney’s nice and clear. Just must have got a little too hot when you started up the fire and burnt out the creosote. Everything’s fine now.
Exit Stage Right: PARAMEDIC 1, FIREMAN 1, FIREMAN 2, FIREMAN 3, FIREMAN 4
C and G: *phew*
Looking outside and seeing the flashing lights of a firetruck is always a bit of a jolt. Yes, we’d called them so I obviously knew they were coming, yet I’ve been socialized to be struck by the shocking intrusive reality of intermittent red lights contrasting a dark night.
I’d always wondered what to do in the case of a chimney fire and just what exactly causes them. A build-up of creosote can coat the inner chimney and subsequently light on fire if temperatures climb too high. It can burn out inertly, held within the chasm of the dark tube of the chimney, or it can ignite the surroundings of the chimney and cause a whole heck of a lot of problems. Luckily my experience included the former: the well-insulated chimney burning so hot it filled the house with the smoke of black burning itself grey. By the time the fire department arrived, dissatisfied with telling us what to do in the case of a chimney fire over the phone and wanting to check to make sure all was well, it had taken care of itself and we were left to collapse into bed after a long day.
It can always get worse. No matter if I’ve run around all day and am coming home to a place I’ve only been to in the day-time, that the house is stone-cold because the owners left in the morning and the fire has long burned out. No matter what happens, things can always get worse.
Where does this leave me? Not only am I forced to be grateful for everything that is going well in my life, but coming up against difficult situations makes it impossible to check-out, to ignore the realities of my situation. It may not be as obvious as a house full of smoke and red flashing lights outside my kitchen window, but when something unexpected comes up I know I can’t ignore it. I’m just on this ride and I am most certainly not the one in control. Life’s unexpectedness keeps me on my toes, and keeps me strictly in each present moment.