Posts Tagged ‘people’

It’s all around me. It stays there, a literally mounting pile of little insignificant things I’ve yet found the focus to deal with. Meanwhile, I binge watch shows, get reeled into Twitter with the promise of the occasional retweet, or wade ankle-deep into a new idea. Deflection with a payout. Yet the mail, receipts, notes, and other stuff from my pockets just gather on my dresser, the bookcase, my desk.

And this morning I realized why. There’s a letter to my landlord I must write about stuff she should take care of. Calls I should make, even to friends I value that I want to call but somehow don’t. Even fun stuff I don’t do. Because the clutter is everywhere. It gnaws away at my psyche, like visual nagging that somehow feels passive aggressive.But that first step is the hardest. It’s acknowledgement of a problem, a weakness, a flaw. So the modest piles remain.

And I get why now. All my life, there has been subtle resistance to responsibility. As a kid it was “forgetting” to unload the dishwasher. As a young adult, it was driving to the landlord’s condo to leave the rent check under the mat because I didn’t have the cushion to mail it with it getting there after the first but before the fifth. And worst of all, it was the potential girlfriend that I never called back. Yes, it was probably not going to be a match made in heaven. But there might have been something worthwhile, but it was far easier not to try. Or say goodbye.

Clutter was daunting when I was a child, but I could write it off as defiance. More recently it has merely been an effective and comfortable excuse.
Yet now that I’ve burst its bubble, it’s an issue that can be tackled incrementally through small goals not towering obstacles. And I’ve diffused the emotional charge. It doesn’t represent a flaw that I subconsciously reinforce through inaction. It’s just stuff that has to be put away, thrown away, or filed. It won’t bite. It will just take a little time, time that is available as long as I choose to do it.

Now comes the harder part: using this newfound freedom to execute responsibilities throughout other facets of my life. They may not be as tangible, but they surround me nonetheless. And oddly enough, they may only need to live as long as they remain unscratched off in my organizer. And I’ll eventually have a lot of physical and mental elbow room as I more forward.


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It was New Years Eve eve, and I had just one passenger left: a short run across town in Oakland that required a 45-minute logjam getting to the Bay Bridge from San Francisco’s Sea Cliff neighborhood.

Then that passenger was transferred to another driver, and I would no longer be subjected to the prolonged frustrations of getting to the Bay Bridge along with those that would use dying lanes to cut in front of hundreds. I would, though, have at least four hours added to my shift by bringing a passenger to southeast of Placerville in the Sierra foothills.

I didn’t mind. Places I haven’t been are always an adventure, and my passenger proved to be very good company. He had just finished his third dose of chemotherapy with another three to go in the coming weeks. It was a brain tumor that had previously been arrested years before.

In his late ’60s, he had been a successful lawyer, a partner in a firm that fought insurance companies. He was a particularly formidable foe, in that for years he had worded for insurance companies. He knew their angles, the framework of their methods of getting what they wanted which always ended with individuals missing out on what they deserved.

Then one day in 2009 he drove off the road. A brain seizure left him going straight when Highway 50 curved gently to the left. He went down a 20-foot embankment and hit a tree that probably kept him from visiting a business without using the designated entrances.

He didn’t wake up for eight hours. And when he was conscious he found out that he’d never drive again. The threat of seizures ended his driving privileges. And he loved to drive; he had had plenty of cars that were guaranteed to deliver copious amounts of adrenaline if asked. There was his split-window ’63 Corvette. A Sunbeam Tiger, a tiny sports car with a big V-8 wedged into it like a Shelby Cobra only smaller. And less manageable. His last high-performance car was an all-wheel-drive, turbocharged Dodge Stealth. It ruptured an oil line in Garberville, in redwoods country along the Eel River, a good 70 miles from anyone with the expertise and parts to fix it.

A lawyer without a driver’s license, or the means for a perpetual chauffeur, is like a pool hustler missing a hand. He retired, and his firm of 50 that he shared with a half-dozen partners imploded. Being right in the middle of a relocation, holding an expiring lease, probably helped make the decision easier.

Outside of the subject of cars, we talked about a lot. He used to ski at Stow, Vermont and raced at the same time on the mountain as Billy Kidd, one of America’s first skiing sensations on the international scene. We reminisced about skiing’s heroes of old, Franz Klammer, Pirmin Zurbriggen, and Herman Maier, and the amazement of witnessing their skills on ESPN back when they readily broadcast World Cup ski racing.

We talked about politics, with much in common. He was liberal too, in most ways except regarding gun restrictions. He was wary of the corporate control of the Republican Party, and didn’t want to see AK-47s banned because he saw that as being his last defense against a government that he saw that, in the wrong hands, would be more than willing to take away any remaining freedoms by force.

I understood his sentiment. And I voiced my take. As a liberal and a pacifist, I loath AK-47s and what they represent in our society: a pathway to indiscriminate killing. But on the other hand, I do understand the “second amendment” cries, particularly in light of my passenger’s perspective. But I do not see any logical reason for clips that can carry 30 rounds or more. The only place I can see these weapons used is on a shooting range, and limiting clips to 15 rounds isn’t that much of a hardship. Forcing gun enthusiasts to take a few seconds to change clips is a reasonable restriction, when the alternative is more people being killed on deadly days which are happening more and more frequently. And then I also floated the notion of putting serial numbers inside every single shell, which was an angle he hadn’t considered that made total sense to him.

Of course the NRA wouldn’t allow that to happen. That begs the question of what possible downside could there be for that action. And of course there is only one: ammo and gun manufacturers might see a slight decrease in sales. It’s a pity that change for the better always is clipped by the needs of a few to make just a tiny bit more money. The social benefits of being able to trace the original owners of every bullet don’t stand a chance against bloated profits these days.

When we finally got to the two-lane roads, the drive took on an entertaining rhythm. Like a slalom skier on a bunny slope, we dipped and swung through the night. Within a couple miles of his home, he started to tell me of a particularly senseless tragedy involving the roadway ahead.

Bad judgement and worse luck combined for fatal consequences. A 17-year-old boy was rip-roaring drunk at a party about a mile from his house. The good news: at least he didn’t drive home. The bad news: he attempted to walk home alone, dressed entirely in black. A couple hundred yards from his bedroom he passed out. He ended up in the middle of the road at a corner. A driver came down the hill as the road dipped then swung uphill to the right, and the darkened shape caught him by surprise.

Right then we came to the scene, with a wreath and weathered pictures, bows, and flowers attached to a tree across the road from the spot where a young life ended. It had happened a year ago. And no one ever gets a chance to forget.

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Lirfab – def: term derived from the acronym “loving reassurance from an amorphous benevolence.” Lirfab is a characteristic attributed to impossible coincidences that could inspire the conclusion that they were orchestrated just for you as a reminder that there are forces beyond physics that choose to show you that they are on your side as a sign of encouragement and love.


I came up with the lirfab concept on Memorial Day this year, and since then I’ve experienced a myriad of astounding coincidences well beyond a roll of the dice. Some were nature driven, such as going outside after a long stint on the computer and having two vees of 100 geese fly directly overhead. I chose that moment to go outside, pushed there by pent up political angst. I hadn’t heard geese all day, yet while outside I could hear them far far away. I scanned for them to the southeast, and saw their full approach and pass-over which took a couple of minutes. If I had stayed at my desk I would’ve heard the honking but missed the fly-by.

As coincidences go, that one wasn’t over the top (except literally). But another one was a couple of months ago. On my way to Reno with a passenger, I saw a little floating blimp to the left of my field of vision, tethered to the ground as an advertisement for homemade pies. To my right was the tiny image of a jet flying west. After a quick check of the roadway, I looked up to see the jet seemingly pierce the blimp. What are the odds of witnessing that while doing 60 mph? A second or two earlier or later and they wouldn’t have intersected. If I was in the other lane, I might have missed it.

Rather than being merely a source of entertainment, I’ve come to view these moments as something greater. What exactly I’m not entirely sure; I don’t have any religion’s framework of God or divinity to help explain them. With all the cacophony of doctrines — and their limitations due to dogmas bent on self preservation — I’ve found it hard to commit to a specific religion or view. But there does seem to be something about the synergistic connection of all life, humanity, and a tiny hint of predestination. Maybe karma has more clout than I’d guess. But there’s something in play, something larger than our human egos. And the most noncommittal way I can express this is in the term “amorphous benevolence.” It could be a divine individual force as in God, Allah, or Buddha. It could be the collective consciousness, something that came from humanity, present and past combined. Amorphous benevolence covers all the bases. And in my view, an actual God would be rather sympathetic to my conundrum, and forgiving of its lack of commitment.

On the way to Reno I was able to see the harpooning of the blimp as imminent. There was a tiny opportunity for anticipating that lirfab moment. Tonight, there was none. And more parameters had to be in perfect alignment, including the phase of the moon.

Stopped at a traffic light in Oakland, I just turned my head to the left at exactly the right instant and got a bullhorn blast from this amorphous benevolence (as in God, if you please). Nothing subtle or ambiguous about this one. It was a stunning, once-in-a-lifetime moment. And I was immediately thankful a single breath later.

The moon was in the tiniest of crescents, a little enlarged as it closed in on the western horizon. At the instant I caught sight of it, a jet that had just taken off from Oakland Airport a half-dozen miles south pierced its image. But because of the phase of the moon, this wasn’t an angular silhouette passing before a ball of bluish white. It passed before the shaded part, and was turning away from me. How could I tell? The white lights at the wingtips were clearly visible, as were the green and red lights, against the backdrop of my cherished night orb. The arc of the turn continued once only sky was behind it, and it was pointed straight away from me as I reacted to the cars around me and pulled away at the green light. The next I saw of the jet a block later it was heading south, probably past Treasure Island by then.

In less than two minutes traffic ground to a halt at the merger of 980 and 580, and I had an opportunity to review the odds of this improbable alignment. Phase of the moon: optimum. Angle of my viewing position at the key moment: stationary at a signal within 40 degrees of the alignment with no tall buildings to block my view. Angle of the aircraft: optimal in that there would be probably only 30 degrees of its 140-degree turn where the rear-facing white lights would be brilliantly visible.

And if I didn’t turn my head at the right instant, I would’ve missed it.

Thanks, amorphous benevolence/God/Goddess/collective consciousness! I heard you loud and clear. Your grace has touched me, and I am again in gratitude up to my eyebrows. I don’t know why or how, or what you want me to do with this minor miracle, but if I end up feeling a little bit special just now that’s human nature. Yet this isn’t just for me, it’s reassurance for all of us collectively. In my heart I know that these things are out there for almost everyone to witness and draw the same conclusions. I just hope that they are lucky enough to notice, value, and draw strength from these opportunities as I have been led to do.

Happy Lirfab, everybody! May yours come soon, and be just as undeniable and jaw-dropping. They say the watched pot never boils, but things may already be popping around you, just waiting for that moment of acknowledgment that will hit you deeply, calmly, and with clarity. Grace happens! Be awake for it.

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The second moon bathed the hills to my west, sweeping by on my way from San Francisco to Fortuna, just south of Eureka, 250 miles north. As I got to the two-lane road north of Willits, the moonlight caught anything white: houses, RV’s, boats, even car covers.

At the open plain around Laytonville the fields and trees were well defined, and further north in the narrow valleys the hanging smoke from modest pockets of civilization hung nearly motionless. The mostly dry riverbed of the Eel River caught my eye often. My glimpses were brief, of course, in the midst of the 400-plus corners the route entailed.

The redwoods stood out everywhere, scraggly spires 60 feet taller than the trees around them. Rather than being limited to the usual tunnel vision of night, the lack of lights in my mirrors opened up my field of vision to the subtleties of gray and shadow. Every ridge was cast in silhouette, with stars slicing through trees slowly.

The first moon appeared only briefly, between Polk St. and Van Ness on Bush St in SF. A weathered woman with unwashed hair and a bright-eyed smirk spotted an approaching three-wheeler with a parking enforcer at the wheel. She spun around and gave the city worker a quick moon, pulling down her terrycloth sweats. At least her butt was clean; the rest of her flesh looked pretty gritty….

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