I’ve reached my Zenith. I’m living in a van down by the river. Actually it’s a bus and I’m making like a troll and living under a bridge by the swamp in Louisiana. The swamp down here makes no pretensions about it’s Zenith. This is unabashedly the low point where the river muck from far North tendrils its way South bogging in a mire.
I have answered a call to come to the swamp to know the slog that broods and hatches. To know truth in this swirling world of untruth and carelessness. I want to feel my feet sink into what may well be a speck of the silt that I once pulled weeds from as a kid in the fields of Iowa tall corn country. I want to live in the swamp to get to the bottom of it, to know after the floods have raged and the mighty waters have circulated through heartland and pushed out to the ocean what’s left?
I was trying to clean the fryer grease off an old commercial grade cook stove that a Trump Supporter/NRA member had gifted me to support my project of housing and feeding cypress tree planting volunteers. I had just hopped in the driver’s seat on the bus to get the phone when the answer flew down, end over end through the morning blue, off the top of the bridge. It was a Jack Daniels bottle shattering on the stove where I had just been working.
The phone call was my buddy Jim calling to hatch a plan to fix a clogged toilet in my house up North that I was renting out. Jim had gotten a call from the tenant. It was a sub zero morning and he had ventured out. As he was going on about how it was so cold that the stink pipe might have iced shut causing the toilet not to draft, hence the clog, “Maybe we could throw some rock salt down the…” I interrupted him sheepishly with, “Ah Jim... I think you just saved my life?!? I mean did you get any background noise of glass shattering?”
Out of the humid humility of the swamp there emerged once again the truth that I knew and could have known anywhere, but needed a bottle of Jack to distill it down for me: Live life like everything matters. Everything is related. We hang in this delicate mystical balance that leads from one far fetched impossibility to the next. The chain of events that holds us up to walk this Earth is ever tenuous and infused with an awful grace that one moment can be lauded and the next leaves us despaired and wailing. And not like I couldn’t wail on ad nauseum about the inner despair.
But on this occasion I have the privilege to marvel. And marvel I shall. How I go, but for the If Jim hadn’t called when he did to muse about a solution. If the toilet hadn’t clogged. If there hadn’t been that brutal cold spell. If the tenants hadn’t ate a Pizza Hut low fiber diet that produced torqued turds that were bound to log jam any toilet. If I hadn’t been raised an Iowa hog farmer. If Jim and I hadn’t bonded a friendship from helping me chase escaped hogs through 7 foot burdock “trees” under a full harvest moon. If that bond wasn’t so strong that thirteen years later he’d leave his home fire on a thirty below morning to help me far away taking in Louisiana sunshine. If the Mississippi watershed hadn’t pulled that fertile Iowa top soil down to this swamp. If I didn’t feel displaced and searching for my home in this messed up country.
Of course these chains are like the double helixes that contain our essence and they’re everywhere, billions and guzillions, and we can only begin to unravel them. I mean there’s probably one with Drew and a Jim Beam bottle too. At some point you just have to say, If It Hadn’t Been For Love!