Falling rock

by Jennifer on August 1, 2008

My quote of the day on my Google homepage was this, from Appolinaire: “Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.”

And you know what? He was probably right. Sunshine, butterflies, lalalalala.

Know what else? Appolinaire, god rest his beautiful soul, can bite me.

I get it. I do. And for the record, I recognize all the things that are good enough, even good, about my life. Enough food, though I’m not shopping the way I used to, when I would buy whatever looked or sounded good (when did the starting price for everything at the store become $5?) Housing, filled as it is with boxes that seem to expect something from me. Clothing (and the church of very-affordable Target).

It’s not nothing.

Adaptability is one of my strengths. I can roll with just about anything, and am very tolerant of changing circumstances or (this is harder) circumstances that don’t change when I hoped they would. But I’m at the end of that particular rope right now, and I’m starting to wonder if it’s attached to a powder keg.

Last Saturday morning, I got up early and took the Jeep for a drive. As always happens after a few miles, I relax into the driving, and the things outside of me fall away like pieces of a shell. The road I drive doesn’t leave much room for inattention. When there’s nothing but a guardrail between you and a Thelma and Louise ending, it’s time to put both hands on the wheel. On the way back home, I was on part of the road that had been blasted from the side of a mountain.

On that side of the road, an exposed wall of rock rose high above it. And, where it had fallen away from the face of the wall, a large pile of rock lay next to the road.

I found myself wondering what it is that happens, after years, to make a section of a wall finally let go like that and fall? Was it a shift in the mass of the mountain? Or an echo of the blast that carved the road from it years ago?

Or was it the constant, daily vibration from traffic? Yes, maybe that. Nothing remarkable, after all, just the wear and tear of it?

Yeah, that’s where my mind was.

Sometimes I wonder how most of us manage to keep it all together, especially when life throws the big things at us–illness, a lost job, death. And then there are the lesser, but stinging, disappointments, like a vacation that couldn’t go forward as planned, and the loss of time with people we miss.

As adaptable as I am, I’ve always wondered if all it would take was just one more thing to make me come completely undone. I’ve waited for it, sure that it would happen. I thought it would be big, but as time passes and I get older, I’m more inclined to think it might be something small.

Like finding another scorpion in the house last night. Or the refrigerator door falling off (it’s happened, twice, and seems about ready to happen again). Or reaching the end of the summer without finding a house. Or Girl asking me over and over and ohmygodover, “When can we go to Build-a-Bear workshop again?” Or waiting to fall in love with another house.

In the larger picture, none of those things are so big, and I know it. So why do I feel like I have my shoulder to the door, trying to keep out a bear?

How do we manage it? What is it that makes us keep going without falling apart? So often, the thread is thin when I feel like I need a strong rope to hold onto. Is it the good stuff that we take from (or add to?) our lives that keeps us from going batshit crazy? (We have some excellent pharmaceuticals for that, too, let’s not forget.)

What keeps you going? (Besides a good refrigerator repairman?)

P.S. If your life is so freaking fantastic that you have no idea what I’m talking about, please identify yourself. And then duck. 🙂

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

we_be_toys August 1, 2008 at 12:59 pm

Girl, I sure as hell don’t have the answer – not today! I have found that when the big shit hits the fan, I’m pretty good at going with it and making the best of things. It’s the little stuff that puts me over the edge – in fact, that’s what I posted about today as well (great minds are all on overload?) – go figure!
Damn scorpions – why do people live where scorpions live, again? I would be on auto-scream, I fear!
Will you smack me if I say I found comfort knowing I wasn’t the only one tapdancing on the edge of reason today?
It must be 5 o’clock somewhere!

San Diego Momma August 1, 2008 at 2:00 pm

I know this is off topic…but did you switch your photo from the right to the left sidebar? Or has the spicy eggplant and strong margaritas from last night thrown me into a fugue state?

And obviously, I’m not a good one to ask about keeping it all together. Things unraveled for me long ago and I’m still holding the end pieces.

San Diego Mommas last blog post..Overdue

Dharmamama August 1, 2008 at 2:09 pm

Jennifer – It’s not that my life is so freakin’ good (though it is). It’s more… perspective, maybe? I’ve got stressors: I’m a single, unschooling mom, money is incredibly tight, etc. but things just don’t get to me. I don’t think it’s necessarily ME, either, because they sure used to. I learned to meditate. I try to stay connected to Source. I get a lot from hanging with my tribe: unschoolers and Unitarian Universalists , and other folks dedicated to living lives of freedom and joy. That definitely keeps me going.

I almost died when I was 25, by a suicide attempt. Little things just weren’t important after that, ya know? (I don’t recommend that as a way of bringing presence and awareness to your life, btw. There are simpler ways.) It’s not so much that little things don’t bother me – I’m human, after all – but they don’t add up, I guess. I can let ’em go. I credit meditation for that, my practice of Soto Zen, watching my thoughts.

And when I get overwhelmed, like when my car broke down and I didn’t have money to fix it, I cry and talk to my friends until I have perspective again. Being centered in NOW *is* all it’s cracked up to be.

Dharmamamas last blog post..Truly Open-Hearted

tysdaddy August 1, 2008 at 2:26 pm

Great post, Jennifer.

Having to spend that amount of money on fixing my van hurt, badly. As you are aware, I was laid off for two months. Every big of my free money from the government (read: stimulus check) and my savings went into keeping the bills paid and things moving somewhat normally. At the end of two months, there was nothing left. So I was grateful to go back to work.

I worked all the overtime I could get, working for 17 days straight, and staying over and coming in early when I feasibly could. All that extra was to go toward getting things caught up that had slipped. Like the mortgage. Having to write that check hurt so badly.

And now I find myself shutting down. The bills are piled up from my uninsured hospital stay, the people keep calling, and I don’t know how to begin to clean up the mess.

One step at a time I guess. And an attitude of hope. I talk the talk there, but often fail to heed my own advice.

Thanks for letting me vent . . .

Hatchet August 1, 2008 at 2:30 pm

I am so close to running away at the moment, it’s not even funny, so I feel your pain!

Not quite sure what’s keeping me together, but I know what’s tearing me apart: a decided lack of sleep + screaming babies with intangible desires + a whining 7 year old (A sleepover weekend, followed by a playdate and a party and yet another week away with her grammy isn’t ENOUGH to make her happy?! WTF?!) + a frustrated husband + a heat wave keeping me housebound = Insanity On A Stick.

I’m currently beating myself soundly with that stick.

Help meeeeeeeeee!

I hope that made you feel better.

Hatchets last blog post..Really Slow Food

Jennifer Harvey August 1, 2008 at 2:33 pm

(Jennifer makes pitcher after pitcher of margaritas and passes them around…with long straws)

flutter August 1, 2008 at 4:09 pm

I got nothin today, girl.

flutters last blog post..adventures in interviewing

Milena August 1, 2008 at 9:20 pm

Alright… this is what we’re going to do. You be Tara and I’ll be Scarlett. No? Ok, be that way, I’ll be Tara and you be Scarlett then. Now repeat after me, c’mon say it… TOMORROW IS ANOTHER DAY. That’s right. I tell that to myself when as you so aptly put it, I’m going batshit crazy. Just so you know, today was a day like that. A little bit of bat, some shit and then a lot of crazy. 😉

Milenas last blog post..

Madge August 2, 2008 at 5:35 am

Old Appie can bite me to. I feel undone just looking around at the clutter in my home and the endlessness of it and my inability to make the tiniest of dents in it….

Madges last blog post..Remains of the (Summer) Days

Dharmamama August 2, 2008 at 6:33 am


Doing this can shift some energy…

Dharmamamas last blog post..Truly Open-Hearted

manager mom August 2, 2008 at 6:40 am

I am having ten days of busyness hell. And the thing that keeps me going is just a vague hope that somehow, some of the things I’m doing make a difference to people. My kids, my work, my bloggy friends, the undergrads I’m supposed to teach next week.

Not major, “put it on my tombstone” kind of differences, but the minor kind of quiet difference that someone will remember someday, and think, “huh, that thing she did for me didn’t suck in the least.”

Low bar, huh?

manager moms last blog post..It’s No San Francisco

Gwen August 2, 2008 at 8:16 am

My life is so fraking fantastic, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

I’ll still take a margarita, though.


Ann August 2, 2008 at 9:50 am

Oh, darlings. Reading all of the comments tugs at my heart. Let’s start a commune and support one another! 🙂

For me, I draw upon what I have – bc I just am not always adding to that which I have (replenishing the well, so to speak, as much as I could). In the car, I’ll try to repeat to myself “I’m In The Bliss, I’m In The Bliss” or whatever.

What it does is – it slows me down enough to perhaps notice a beautiful tree, or a lovely older person out strolling, or a human/humane interaction that I needed to see just then. And it keeps me from needing to be “wedged against the door” – at least when I can get there for those moments…

RiverPoet August 2, 2008 at 10:07 am

When you find the answer, please clue us in. I feel like I’ve got my shoulder to the door, too (and what a great analogy!). If I let go, the world might come crashing in. Right now, in the middle of one of those moments, I’m listening to John Mayer and relaxing in my sunny yellow office. I was supposed to be on the beach today, but the weather had other plans. So now I’m stuck here with my thoughts. Deep thoughts. 🙂

Pass me a margarita, dear. Extra salt.

Peace – D

RiverPoets last blog post..Mind Open; Mouth Closed

Treasia August 2, 2008 at 10:10 am

I used to be the “go with the flow” person, but then somewhere along the way I turned into the “worry wart” and worry and think about all the bad things. “what are we going to do now”, “why is this happening” and stressing over every single little thing. My hubby sat me down awhile back and told me to “ask myself is it anything I can fix”? If it’s not, don’t worry about it. Ask myself “can I change this”? If not, don’t worry. So I am trying really hard at night when I lay down to ask myself these questions.

I’ll let you know when it works.

Treasias last blog post..Sky Watch Friday

Lisa August 2, 2008 at 12:33 pm

For some reason, I bake when I am in that mood. I have no idea why this helps but it does. And if I can’t do that I drink coffee.
I’m such the wild one!

Lisas last blog post..15 Minutes of Pure JOY

Louise August 2, 2008 at 8:05 pm

So what are you going to throw at me?

My life isn’t a picnic, but I know I make it sound like one. And I know compared to a lot of others, it IS a picnic.

But sometimes circumstances beyond our control make things not the best. I always say make the best of things, but I realize that is partially personality driven, and not everyone (OK, almost no one) has a personality like mine.

But here’s the advice you don’t want. Exercise. Doesn’t have to be hard. Go for a walk. OK, it’s 120 degrees there, go early. I know that’s an awful thing, but honestly, there is nothing like getting out early in the morning to see beauty to make life look a little less skewed.

The other thing is be creative. Write something. Paint something. Draw something. Stamp something. Just create something.

My life is stressful. It’s happier than a lot of people’s, but it’s also more stressful than a lot of people’s. The things that get me out of that are exercise and stamping (or making anything cool, actually). I actually feel the stress melting when I do either.

And if it’s really just too damn hot to walk, even early (or you just can’t get up), then make a way to do a litlte more of the driving to clear your head. Time to be alone and think is something everyone needs. It’s all always just better when you can think it through rather than just stress about the snippets.

Oh, it won’t fix the situation, but it will do a little repair work on you.

Louises last blog post..Evening

Asianmommy August 2, 2008 at 9:30 pm

When life is hard, I do a mini-escape. It could be simply going to my bedroom and laying down for a few minutes, or calling up an old friend to chat, or losing myself surfing on the web for a while, or being engrossed in a book or TV show for an hour, or even meeting up with a friend for dessert & coffee. Often, it’s enough to give my mind a break, focus on something else, and then be able tackle what I need to get done. Reaching out to a friend, getting some emotional support, maybe even a different perspective on things, can really help.

suburbancorrespondent August 2, 2008 at 10:11 pm

Give thanks for whatever bothers you. Here, I’ll start. Thank you, Lord, for having my teen daughter hate me and make me feel like my mother. Thank you for how lousy she makes me feel every single day.

Fake gratitude – it helps. Honest. It makes you feel like there is a bigger plan to it all, and gets you out of your box.

If I sound crazy, it’s because I am!

suburbancorrespondents last blog post..Think Up Your Own Damn Title

JCK August 2, 2008 at 10:38 pm

Whew…glad I don’t have to duck. I don’t know. Sometimes it is as simple as getting more sleep. When I try to do so many things and am snapping around every corner, I ask myself…how much sleep have I had. Usually I have been burning the candle at both ends.

No answer other than that. And I’m going to bed. Soon.

JCKs last blog post..That’s what whining children will do to you

Akelamalu August 3, 2008 at 3:39 am

What keeps me going? The surety that things will definitely look better in the morning, after a sleepless night worrying!

Whatever life throws at me I will cope with, one way or another – what choice do you have?

Akelamalus last blog post..Oblivious….

Lisa Milton August 3, 2008 at 7:41 am

I was in a state last night, really aggravated. When booze & reading don’t do it for me, sometimes taking a walk helps. (I just remembered you live in high hell heat. Nevermind. Come winter?)

I also talk to myself a lot which makes me look like a raving idiot – I’m easy to spot – but sometimes it helps me resist the temptation to choke Build-a-Cult followers.

Julie Pippert August 3, 2008 at 9:02 am

Edith Wharton expressed something similar albeit a bit more cynically, and I find I like hers quite well. 🙂

I have had many days and times in which I have cried, “ARGH I cannot take it any more!” and what I mean is: cannot take it with grace, maturity and stoicism. So I break down and let myself have a nice tantrum or cry or whatever. I’m always afraid the get there because instead of trusting that the child in me is one of many layers, I’m afraid the immature is the foundation and what I’d crumble to if I let it all go.

Anyway what I like about your idea of driving is the coming home.

At some of the “can’t can’t can’t” times I’ve gone for drives. I calm down. Then I choose to go home. What a difference, that choosing, can make.

Julie Pipperts last blog post..Hump Day Hmm on Saturday and giving new meaning the phrase "crapped on my day"

Jenn @ Juggling Life August 3, 2008 at 11:53 am

It’s so interesting that some times in your life you can handle so much and other times little things send you over the edge.

Keep your chin up.

Jenn @ Juggling Lifes last blog post..It’s Not A Comic, But It Is Funny

Rhea August 3, 2008 at 6:25 pm

My kids keep me going…then again, sometimes they’re the problem, and in that case, a bottle of Xanax keeps me going. hehe

Denise @ EatPlayLove August 3, 2008 at 8:18 pm

I think we do fall apart, but for the most part not as dramatically as a rock wall. Maybe it’s just a boulder here and there. Gosh, hope someone is there to pick me up if I ever turn into a rockslide.

I guess my best advice is to savor those tiny moments that may just slip away. A beautiful flower growing from a crack in a parking lot, a small rain shower mid day, your children smiling.

Denise @ EatPlayLoves last blog post..Got Old Pots & Pans, Create Some Family Music!

Kate August 4, 2008 at 8:51 am

Part of what keeps me going is being able to write about things that stress me.
I only recently started a blog, but I also keep an old fashioned journal and I have written in it a lot.
I have friends I can lean on and talk to.
I also have a therapist. That has helped the most.
I tried pharmaceuticals, but that didn’t work for me.
Just made me very lethargic.

I think it’s different for everyone, but similar.
Meaning we all have different ways of dealing, but some of those ways are similar.

And God.. I rely on God. I pray a lot.

And sometimes.. I just lose my shit.
I used to try to keep it altogether.
But have since found out, I don’t have to.
There are people around me who will
be there for me and hold me together
when I cannot contain myself.

So, yeah.. that’s how I handle it.
If that’s what you want to call it.

Oh, and it helps me a lot to read about
what other people go through… like by
reading your post here.
It helps me know I’m not alone.

Kates last blog post..Cake!

Just Jamie August 5, 2008 at 4:07 pm

Funny, because although I’m a few days behind on getting here, I landed exactly here for a reason. I’m feeling it too. Please God don’t hear me saying I need anything nasty to happen, but, yes, my life is good. And yet… And yet…

Quiet. Where is the quiet anyway?

Just Jamies last blog post..Pulsing and Buzzing

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