I suppose everyone has a particular way of dealing with rock bottom. Some folks eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s “Chocolate Therapy.” Others watch 6 seasons of Lost, 10 episodes at a shot for a week or two, just to escape.
For me? I always know when I’ve hit rock bottom because I go to Monster.com and start looking for “real” jobs. This never helps, because I quickly realize how unemployable I am. When you put writing into a job search, mostly what comes up are notices for insurance sales, or telemarketing. Or paid ads for MFA programs.
My breathing slows and I start to consider how embarrassing it will be to move back in with my parents. I consider all of the more nefarious ways I could generate income, such as selling my organs on the black market or off-loading bodily fluids for cash.
* * * * *
The Amarillo sky was low and gray today, the clouds providing welcome relief from a sun that torched us yesterday with high temperatures around 99 degrees. And the wind. There is always the wind. The trees bent towards the north, the pale undersides of their leaves glaring silver.
I sat outside the Starbucks today and considered the fact that my current projects end in a few months, and I have no guaranteed income beyond that. I considered the cost of diesel. The cost of four children going to college. And I opened up Monster.com.
* * * * *
On the Sunday morning that we left Tulsa, almost a week ago, it was cool and windy. I went outside to get the bus ready for departure. This involves, among other things, emptying the waste tank and filling the fresh water. I sat down on the ground beside the hose, turned it on, and then waited.
As I sat there, one week ago, I realized that it had been quite some time since I just sat quietly. Not writing. Not driving. Not messing around on my phone. Just sitting, available, listening to the muse or to God or to the wind.
Strange. Tangled up knots inside of me started to loosen. I sensed God there. Maybe it was the quiet, or the cold. or the sense of adventure that always fills me before we embark on the next leg of our journey. But it was a spiritual experience, sitting quietly, emptying the bus’s waste tank. Filling the fresh water.
* * * * *
Tonight, after leaving another great writers’ gathering, I drove west on I-40 towards the RV park where our bus is parked. Tomorrow we begin the 600-mile trek to the Grand Canyon.
Huge puddles remained after the hail storm that passed through earlier today. I came into the dark bus and sat down to write this post. I listened to The National’s song “About Today.” The wind pounded the bus, swaying it back and forth. Cade came out to ask if we would tip over. I assured him we would not. Inside, I wondered.
I feel scattered tonight (can you tell by the ridiculous jumps this post is taking?). I feel uncertain. Yet there’s a simple assurance in the quiet. A sense of peace in the wind. It’s the same peace I felt sitting outside the bus in Tulsa a week ago. The kind of peace that wraps around you, even when you’re emptying the waste tank.
I think of the poet Billy Collins’ words,
What scene would I want to be enveloped in
more than this one
And I realize, there is no other scene I would rather be enveloped in.