The ground begins to shake beneath me. I stumble to the nearest park bench and sit down hard. The cobblestones in front of me crumble; the branches of the oak tree above me vibrate and tremble. My heart skips a beat as I look to my left and some guy with a grey beard three benches down is flattened by a large falling branch. Further down, tree limbs are being flung like pick-up-stix, and to my horror the largest one takes out a pair of joggers. The couple are crushed in an instant. I blink. To my right, a towering ash is uprooting as pedestrians and dog walkers scramble toward the street. The giant trunk teeters for a moment in slow motion, and then in a split second crashes to the pavement, squashing the horde like so many mutant cockroaches.
You understand worlds I do not, pull them
into words I cannot, but it is more than your brilliance
it is how you wrapped me tight, a weighted blanket
when I was spiralling, spiralling,
spiralling so dizzy I was heaving,
spinning out of control, my molecules
when you held me tight,
and made sure I was fine in the morning.
‘i just have a lot of feelings you know.’
Each class was costing Sarah nearly one hundred Dirham, even if she went to Yoga twice a week. That was nearly thirty dollars an hour. She could imagine Arnold’s look of disapproval at her indulgence, but keeping in shape made her feel better about living in a city surrounded by desert. Sarah couldn’t go running in the humid evening like her boyfriend.
She stole a glance in the mirrored walls of the all-women fitness club. Most of the other members were in much worse shape than she was. It wasn’t their fault; some Arabian women barely got out of the house. But, the instructor helped them much more than her.
Traverse along the pebble-filled potholes,
wander aimlessly through the aisles at CVS,
gazing at every variety of potato chips in their
plastic bags whose wrinkles glisten ever so slightly.
buy something just because you’d feel awkward
going somewhere and coming back with nothing.
My phone pings, an electronic ring, clear and sharp. Morning, afternoon, and in the still of night.
Ping, a father’s text lecture. What good is your writing doing? Show me proof. Would you consider law? You can make good money. Fatherly translation: Being a lawyer gives me status with my friends whose sons and daughters are not just lawyers, but doctors and physicists.
Bernard had planned for today to be the last day of his life. He stared out the window of his office on the 35th floor of the Maxwell building, overlooking the San Francisco Bay. If he peered through the telescope he kept near the window, he could see The Campanile of the University of California, Berkeley campus. It supposedly resembled St. Mark’s Campanile in Piazza San Marco in Venice. He didn’t see it that way. He saw it as an artifice, an historical pastiche derived from a tower in an ancient European city. As far as Bernard was concerned, it was a failure, same as him.
“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think, ‘No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.’
The words jumped out at me from the page of the book, Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown. A friend visiting India had gifted it to me three years ago, but I couldn’t proceed beyond the first chapter and so put it away. Non-fiction not being my cup of tea, I let the book lie in a cozy corner of my bookcase. I thought I would wait for the book to prompt me to read it.