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Mindful : August 2018
DAYS 11-20 When It Hits The Fan Things literally go to shit. I live in an old house in an old city on the edge of North America, and when it rains, it rains hard. And on this particular night, when it rains hard, I become aware that I can hear that rain falling inside the house. In the basement, storm water is geysering out of an old cast-iron pipe. My husband, Kev, is out catching up with a friend who’s visit- ing. I panic, my go-to response to this kind of emergency. Somehow I have the presence of mind to reach for an empty garbage can and pop it under the overflowing pipe while I dial Kev. He is home in minutes, visiting friend in tow. I call the insurance company while the guys try to stem the tide in the basement with more garbage cans and a shop vac. It’s past midnight, but the insurance company sends an emergency contractor to assess the damage. At some point, the water spilling out of the pipe reveals itself to be not pure storm water. It does this gently at first, with the appearance of some toilet paper. But where there’s paper there’s whatever it wiped away, it seems, and soon there is actual raw sewage in my basement. Of all the things about which I am uptight, I am uptightest about raw sewage. The arrival of it in my basement is the kind of thing that would generally lead to tears, gnashing of teeth, sharp words spoken to my spouse, and an overall deep malaise that colors every part of my experience of the world. This seems like a job for mindful- ness meditation. Except that, along with getting not a lot of sleep during this period—the emergency contrac- tor is at our house until 3:30 a.m . and returns at 9 to further assess the situation in daylight—I’m taking exactly zero time to meditate. This goes on for days, until finally, after several hours of hydro-blasting and almost $1,000, the blockage in our old pipes is cleared. When I check in with Joe, I ruefully report that my practice went to hell over the four days it took to get the basement raw-sewage-free. He asks, “How did you deal with the situation?” I start to offer a smart remark and then I realize: I didn’t cry. I didn’t yell at my husband. I didn’t love what was happening, but I also accepted that it was happening and that I needed to just roll with it. Rolling with it is not something I am accustomed to doing, in case that’s not crystal clear. So this feels like progress. → August 2018 mindful 49