Sunday, March 18, 2007

zag zig

I've had this Oxalis plant for 17 years. It's followed me to all but one of the 9 places I've lived in that time. I've had hundreds of plants, but this one is a trooper and can take all the draught and starvation I inflict upon it. Because it's basically a weed, but that doesn't matter to me. I love how it opens its leaves in the day, and folds them up like umbrellas at night, and how when I've been especially good to it, it thanks me with a few white flowers.

Joseph Campbell, quoting some other great man, said that when you are near the end of your life and look back over it, it appears as if it was planned, like a work of art that fits beautifully together, made by a master craftsman who knew the outcome from the beginning.

When I was seven living in suburban New Jersey, I never would have believed that I would be a teenager living on a horse farm in Vermont. When I was selling gourmet fruit to skiers, I never would have believed I would be lucky enough to go to RISD. When I flew away to spend my junior year in Rome I never would have believed the boyfriend I left behind would still be my boyfriend 12 years later. When I walked into a New Haven head shop 2 years ago to buy a tiny silver hand pendant in commemoration of my first performance as a fire spinner, I never would have believed I would break my hand playing roller derby and end up working in that shop.

But it all happened.

Soon after I began wearing the hand of Fatima, I added to it a tiny snake charm, because I'd learned that "Linda" is derivative of the German word for serpent, and I liked that so much better then the Spanish "pretty".

I met an actor who was wearing the same snake charm. I asked him why he wore his, and he said it represented the unexpected twists and turns of life. I liked that too.

I still wear these two, though the hand lost its tiny red stone somewhere in the time after I had the pins taken out of my hand. I keep looking at the pattern of them together, and consider how many of the most important life changing transitions come not from deliberate decisions we fret over and painfully make, but the tiny, minuscule daily choices we barely notice. A particular word spoken to a particular person at a particular time gets you a new job, leaving a place one minute late gets you on the train your future best friend is on, stepping to the right rather then the left puts you into a pile of fallen skaters and you break your hand.

A person could stress about this, or feel great relief. So much of our lives isn't controlled by us, so there is no need to worry about always making the right decisions.

"Fate doesn't hang on a wrong or right choice. Fortune depends on the tone of your voice." So says Divine Comedy.


~Mo'a~ said...

Linda that is amazing...the hand and the snake charm...the same line.
I am so happy to see your smiling face. Also happy to see that you are in good spirit and motivated.
I think of you often and send good karma your way :)

Linda S. Wingerter said...

It is pretty interesting.

Thank you, Mo'a! I hope your knee is well and that I see you again soon.

Libby Koponen said...

This is inspiring -- and freeing. IS this the post that you were considering for the BRgs blog, by any chance?

So often I reproach myself for being inconsistent and rarely sticking to plans -- I admire your way of looking at life, and will try to remember it.

That aside, this is an amazing essay, one I will read and reread. Thank you, Linda.

And it's wonderful to see that hand healing....

annie said...

Happened onto your blog after being a regular reader of BRG. My word, I found two things I was looking for in this one post along with, of course, many other things I hadn't realized I was looking for. Lovely.

By the way, one of those things:
I just bought an oxalysis(ooo, I forgot the spelling)and planted it in our garden. It didn't have a name on it, the clerk didn't know in Japanese and I didn't know where to start to find it in English.
The other, the quote from the Divine Comedy. I've needed that.

healing is a daily ritual...I've got the scars to prove it, too

annie said...

Reading back over my last sentence there, I realized it could sound weird...I was going to quote E. Dickinson "...find no scar, only internal difference where the meanings are..." but I couldn't remember its middle part (its first--"there's a certain slant of light"), its number, nor my university anthology I've carted all over creation. There are sites for such occasions, but no time then...ah well