There is a storm battering the windows. The wind is relentless, the rain comes in sheets that hit the glass with a thumping noise and, like most Angelenos houses, mine is springing leaks everywhere, depending which way the wind blows.
Ottie is understandably nervous. Perched on the sofa, unable to relax, he just stares outside, bewildered by the noise. The low clouds envelope us in a cotton wool blanket and a little while ago I had to pace from room to room, lighting candles. The electricity bid us goodbye hours ago – it’s going to be a long and stormy night and some Edgar Allan Poe’s stories might in order.
An old phone, not quite a rotary but a not so distant cousin, has been retrieved from the garage and dusted off, in order not to lose all connection with the outside world, up here on my mountain, where cell reception is still in the future. Tomorrow there might be road to go into town or there might be not – the presence or absence of the newspaper at the bottom of the driveway will be the telltale sign.
It’s getting dark – the light of my Mac seems incongruous next to the candles, in the void created by the temporary death of digital clocks, night lights, the purring of the fridge and other signs that we have not regressed a couple of centuries. What did people do for entertainment back then?
Darkness is often used as a metaphor for fear and it’s fear I have been thinking about lately, not fear of the dark where I always felt at ease, but fear of the unknown, the only one I haven’t conquered yet. Fear of not using what is left of my life to my full potential, fear of having to look back and regretting time spent on inane activities, mindless worries, worst case scenarios. What does it mean to be in the moment? That I should relish sweeping the floor instead of thinking of something more pleasant in the immediate future or that I should ditch the cleaning and focus on something that matters? Does sweeping the floor matter in the big scheme of things? (Well, it does to me, ever obsessed with Ottie’s hair floating in the kitchen).
But diving into fear or, looked at it another way, finding the courage to dive head in into the unknown is what propels most innovations, it’s the engine behind most creative enterprises. Swimming into fear, all the way to the darkest bottom, is what enables a writer to find the honesty for his best work, it’s what makes us feel empowered. I have been afraid of loss and change, of life without, while challenging these assumptions is what makes living….fun.
My mother never stopped me – she never said don’t go, don’t do even though, at times, I am sure she had to bite her tongue. She did it out of selflessness but the end result was the gift of a sense of fierceness that always served me well and that has become complacent of late. Like the rest of me, it’s aging. Or is it? As the night is getting darker, the wind still howling, Ottie finally spent and curled up in a state of abandon, the candles getting shorter, all I can think of is “Bring it on”.