Sunday, October 12, 2008

Changes and Adaptation

There are some things in life we can't control - curve balls that mess up plans, bringing regrets or new found endurance. The more it happens, the better we cope. But always we look back and realize that even though we survived, if we had previous knowledge of the curve balls, we'd have balked, because who chooses the tougher road? As it stands, hard times find us.

My resolve will be put to the test again this week. Yet another eye surgery that'll sideline me for two weeks. I'll have to take it easy - skip working out (and I was on a roll, too, drat it!), let someone else carry the laundry basket to the basement, and last but not least, no computer time. Zero. Zip. Stay away or risk major setback in healing.

I'm good with all of that. No big deal. Yet today I thought about curve balls, and how we never see them coming, and if we did, what would we do? Duck? Say for instance we could have looked into our future before the curve balls were pitched. Would any of us have chosen the bad times? Speaking for myself, if told I'd suffer a torn retina, I'd first have said, "A torn what?" and then when told the procedure for repair, I'd have said, "Are ya fuckin' kiddin' me?" If I knew that I'd be facing a six inch needle close-up I'd have barfed profusely and asked how I'd get out of that one. (Let's just say, if I had considered the literal meaning to the phrase "stick a needle in my eye," I'd never had made any promises ever.) And if I knew I'd lose sight in my left eye I might have downed a bottle of Valium with a Stoly chaser.

You get my drift. Shit happens that we can't run from. Time and again it does, reshaping our coping mechanism. Mine is now a finely tuned instrument that would put the Ferrari engine to shame. And I'm not the only one on the planet whose faced sudden life changers. I know more people who have than have not. Many I've met through writing. They know who they are.

Isn't it funny how birds of a feather not only flock together, but do it so brilliantly?

My eye explosion was one of my worst life changers to date, but if not for it I might never have returned to college. I'd never have expanded my horizons. I'd never have met my newest Rock Star, former US Poet Laureate Billy Collins. I heart the man.

And without further adieu and in forced segue, I'm sharing the YouTube to the right. It resonates with what me on levels too numerous to list. Listen to his words, and those of you with good eyes, read along as he recites "The Last Cigarette".

The Last Cigarette by Billy Collins

There are many that I miss
having sent my last one out a car window
sparking along the road one night, years ago.

The heralded one, of course:
after sex, the two glowing tips
now the lights of a single ship;
at the end of a long dinner
with more wine to come
and a smoke ring coasting into the chandelier;
or on a white beach,
holding one with fingers still wet from a swim.

How bittersweet these punctuations
of flame and gesture;
but the best were on those mornings
when I would have a little something going
in the typewriter,
the sun bright in the windows,
maybe some Berlioz on in the background.
I would go into the kitchen for coffee
and on the way back to the page,
curled in its roller,
I would light one up and feel
its dry rush mix with the dark taste of coffee.

Then I would be my own locomotive,
trailing behind me as I returned to work
little puffs of smoke,
indicators of progress,
signs of industry and thought,
the signal that told the nineteenth century
it was moving forward.
That was the best cigarette,
when I would steam into the study
full of vaporous hope
and stand there,
the big headlamp of my face
pointed down at all the words in parallel lines.

Enjoy and reflect! For two weeks I'll be reading things from my "To Be Reads", one of them Billy Collins' newest book of poetry titled, "Ballistics". And upon my return to cyber-land, I'll want to read all the comments in response to this weeks question: How have you grown from those curve balls in life?


Edie said...

Kath, I'm more patient, more empathetic. I'm not as quick to blame and blow up. And I'm better, as a person and as a writer.

The two weeks will go by fast. I'll be thinking about you and sending healing thoughts and prayers.

Kath Calarco said...

Edie, you set a great example. I try to be more tolerant, and sometimes that's so hard, especially after reading the newspaper.

Thanks for the healing vibes. I'm going to need all the health I can get.

robin said...

I'll be thinking of you too, and sending loads of best wishes. Take care!

I've learned that every day is a gift and that things happen when they're supposed to happen.

Caryn Caldwell said...

How funny -- I was just thinking bout that same topic earlier today. No, I wouldn't choose many of the bad things that have happened to me, but my life would not be the same now, and would I really want it to be different?

As for Billy Collins, I ADORE him. He's hands-down my favorite poet. I got to see him do a reading when I was in college, and it was wonderful. Then we went to a party with him and my professor introduced me to him as "a very talented writer" or something like that. *swoon*

I'm sorry to hear about your surgery. May you heal quickly and not be in too much pain.

Kath Calarco said...

Robin, each day is a gift. Wouldn't it be nice if everyone viewed it as such?

Caryn, I am IN LOVE with Billy Collins. How lucky you were to party with the dude. I like his poems as read by him the most.

Thanks for the good wishes. I'm not looking forward to the inconvenience but am hopeful for a speedy recovery.

marciacolette said...

I usually give myself time to be anger, sad, or whatever emotion is called for. Then, I pick myself and keep moving on. That's what's in my power to do, so I do it.

Healing vibes to you and hopes that you can spend more than 10 minutes on the computer, Kath.

Kath Calarco said...

Tomorrow I see the doctor who will be removing the contact lens bandage. Either it'll be kept off, or another put on. Each day I'm feeling better, so I think it's all good.

I guess all those healing vibes are working!

Robin said...

Good luck tomorrow! (Monday) I'm still sending those healing vibes. Take care!

Kath Calarco said...

Thanks, Robin. I just returned from the eye doctor. See next blog...