Otherwise

The garage is full of sawdust. It drifts down the driveway, eddying along the used brick until the next gust goads it further on. Blond dunes of maple plywood dust accumulate on the washer and dryer. Power tools and extension cords are strewn across every flat surface. The garden barrel is full of  prunings – melaleuca overtaking the front walk, maidenhair fern over-running a star jasmine, and star jasmines clumsily embracing a Duet rose  and entangling a black pine, limp elephant earred calla lilies, the spent blooms and rose hips from every rose bush, bedraggled amber alstroemeria. A sailing ship awaiting its finally rigging sits on my work tables. Jewelry projects for the Lighthouse sit on his project table. There has also been be the clack clack of our computer keyboards. All weekend we’ve done the work we love.

After forty plus years we got around to exploring all the streets of the nearby Hispanic community that shares our zip code. We drove the deadends of a dusty warren of padlocked industrial yards, discovered a deteriorating railroad depot, imagined ourselves in two models homes we toured, drove up and down the streets of a tidy barrio dotted with apostolic churches and plagued by gang turf wars that back on the two senior citizen mobile and modular parks we cruised. The weekend was also full of movies, meals out, and museums. All weekend we enjoyed the play we love.

Our last movie of the weekend was Robot and Frank starring the masterful Frank Langella portraying an aging cat burglar who struggles with a failing memory. Refusing to acknowledge the increasing severity of his problem, Frank’s son finally presents him with a robot that will be his personal caretaker. First, extraordinarily resistant to the robot, Frank warms to it when he discovers the possibility of enlisting the robot’s help in a heist. As Frank tells it, a cat burglar is someone who makes an opening where none exists. Openings occur as Frank’s quality of life begins to improve under the robot’s care. Humorously, and not so legally, all day Frank did the work he loved.

Jane Kenyon’s wonderful poem Otherwise is a simple accounting of things that occupied her day – getting up, eating breakfast, all morning doing the work she loved, napping, sharing dinner, lying in bed planning another day, noting after each line or so – it might have been otherwise. And then ending the poem “But one day, I know it will be otherwise.” As the movie comes to a poignant end, the one day eventually arrived for Frank when it was otherwise. And one day it will be otherwise for us. But until then we relish and are grateful for the sawdust we make, the garden barrels we fill, the creative projects that get moved from one table to another, the places to explore, the movies that help us see ourselves more fully, and the meals we share. Ah, the communion of meals. One day it will be otherwise.

If you were to list the simple everyday elements of your life plus the work you love, what would you include? If you were to create a list of play that you love, what would you include? If you’ve experienced life being “otherwise,” what opening was made where you thought none existed? What did you make from the sawdust? If you were to create a copy change poem from Jane Kenyon’s Otherwise, how would you personalize it to tell your story?

1 comment to Otherwise

  • Jim peters

    I had some of yesterday’s coffee, otherwise I would not have stopped to read. I may not have been able to enjoy this post until some blog reading lazy day came along, or never. Yesterday’s coffee was certainly better then than now, but stopping to ponder Otherwise with yesterday’s coffee is much more pleasant than rushing off without savouring the day. Thanks!

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