Life Out of Left Field

For a full year now, we’ve been learning to live life out of the ordinary. Life unpredictable, unforeseeable, unexpected. Life iffy, unlooked for, out of left field, not in the cards, subject to change, can’t-count-on-it life.

At all levels of life–personal, familial, local, national, global–we no longer know what’s normal. COVID-19 (with its many and fast-mutating variants) is pushing each of us, all of us, to our personal limits. Climate change is upon us now: This year’s arctic weather has been a season-long challenge, and when summer arrives, extreme heat and hurricanes and fires will challenge us, too. Our basic life-support systems–electrical power, water, fuel–are controlled by politicians who value their abstract ideologies more than the daily needs of the people they’re responsible for. And the democracy that seemed so solid is now revealed for what it is: easily broken, sadly corruptible, as fragile and as ephemeral as the icycles hanging off the roof.

Here in Texas, our five-day power disruption and its many fallouts are requiring all of us to think how extraordinary our lives have become. Yet we go on, don’t we? We do what has to be done to keep warm, feed our families, keep the kids focused on school, help the neighbors, contribute a little extra (time, money, effort) where we can. We need to give ourselves credit for holding things together.

And then there are the uncounted quiet heros who are managing all that–as well as getting up every morning to do the jobs that have to be done to hold us all together: the nursing home staff, grocery clerks, delivery truck drivers, teachers, plumbers and electricians, nurses and doctors, computer technicians, and more, many more.

So whatever else you’re doing this coming week, please take a few minutes every day to count the many ways you’ve learned to cope in these uncertain times. And then to thank the people who are enabling you to do what has to be done. When the going gets rough, they’re the ones who keep us going.

Reading note:

Not to make loss beautiful,
But to make loss the place
Where beauty starts. Where
the heart understands
For the first time
The nature of its journey. . .

(“Not to Make Loss Beautiful, by Gregory Orr. Read the full poem here.)






22 comments on “Life Out of Left Field

  1. So sorry for your conditions. I hope your governor doesn’t cause you to have more illness and death. People complain abour our gov in Michigan but by gosh she has kept us alive.

  2. He’s thinking reelection, Linda. He screwed up big-time in the ERCOT disaster. Lifting the COVID public health care mandates looks a lot like a wag-the-dog strategy designed to appease his base.

  3. OMG! Texas open 100%?! No mask mandate?! What the (bleep) is Abbott thinking?!

  4. I second the post of ‘mritan 55’. Without our literary, musical, and visual artists how can we ever survive the overwhelming sense of loss, the cruelty of others, and the mysteries of this universe in which we live? We can’t. So, thank you Susan, for the inspiration to persevere.
    Dianne Capell
    Amarillo, TX

  5. So true! I am very appreciative to the people that keep our daily needs going, but I am also very appreciative for you and other writers who help take us away into another world for a few hours, in a time when we need it the most. Thank you!

  6. “Our basic life-support systems–electrical power, water, fuel–are controlled by politicians who value their abstract ideologies more than the daily needs of the people they’re responsible for. And the democracy that seemed so solid is now revealed for what it is: easily broken, sadly corruptible, as fragile and as ephemeral as the icycles hanging off the roof.”
    Very well said! And how true…now why do we keep on voting them back in??
    I loved your post–it spoke of optimism and courage (and even humor) during these difficult times. Thank you!

  7. As always, you take a broad and deep view, beautifully expressed. All of these situations pushing us out of our norms give us the opportunity -one, of course, I’d have preferred to avoid- to dive further within for real meaning often obscured by the predictable comforts of our lives. Neighbors and communities coming together are truly an uplifting side effect. Like you, I appreciate those who put themselves out there, usually unseen and unappreciated, like bus drivers, who keep communities functioning. Blessings.

  8. Hi Susan — I so look forward to all of your communications…thank you for this one. Today the water has been restored in my neighborhood. Throughout the last 5 days, as this 74-year-old body navigated ice and snow to catch bucket after bucket of snow/ice melt off the roof and casserole dishes filled with snow to melt — I did feel a peace at being able to “make-do” and “adjust” my expectations to that was reality on any give day. I am feeling somewhat empowered and also full-of-heart upon hearing about so many acts of sharing, concern, support throughout my neighborhood and across the entire frozen country. I can feel the meaning of those words — letting “loss become the place where of beauty starts” –today. Thank you for sharing that poem. I often think of you living out in the country – one of my dreams that at this age, I will probably not pursue…In my younger years, I lived in the country and have fond memories… Not, I simply garden every square inch of my suburban lot….. 🙂

  9. Thank you. We all need to hear this now. I live in New England but my son and his family are in Dallas so we’re very aware of your situation. Thanks for your words.
    Eileen Kelley
    South Dennis MA

  10. What a lovely poem. Your lonely, frigid image conveys the loneliness of the past year. Adding to that all the needless suffering in Texas is unimaginably tragic. Miss all your beautiful flower photographs. Thank you for your blog.

  11. You state it all so well! One thing my husband and I learned this week during SnowmaggedonSanAntonio was that we still work well together – it took teamwork (and good humor) this week to stay warm and engaged during the long periods of no power (and worse, no water). And we’re still speaking – even after a year of COVID quarantining and now the deep freeze week! We were fortunate to have a fireplace and a full supply of wood for it – very well aged wood since our “winters” here in SA rarely call for a fire. But we’ve learned lessons for the future – what to always have on hand, regardless of the season. We can only hope the State has learned some lessons too and will follow through on fixes (am I dreaming?).

  12. Well done. I have been thinking of you all week and wondering how the weather, power outages and shortage of basic life necessities have been affecting you. I’m happy to know you are getting through it albeit acutely aware that all of it is the accumulation of mankind’s neglect and greed.

    Be well. Stay safe.

  13. Beautiful and poignant post. This arctic blizzard has been a frightening awakening to our fragility and helplessness over things we formally took for granted, e.g., warmth and safe water and food security, and the pandemic an awakening to how carefully we must consider the people we vote for. America suffers from a terrible lack of accountability.

  14. Thanks so much for this. Your words articulate fully what I’ve been trying to understand about the last year. In addition to essential workers, I add my deep gratitude to the writers and artists like you who help us live through this time.

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