Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tuesday morning after the storm.

I was still trying to get a hold of my father and step mother on this day four years ago. I had left New Orleans about two weeks before. It was a summer spent waiting tables at a fancy restaurant on Bourbon and Beinville...a place that would send me home fore wearing the wrong socks, and my face was never smooth enough for the Matre'D.

I remember the tropical storm we had earlier that year. It tore ancient live oaks out of the ground. Crayfish literally ran through the streets in St. Bernard parish, their claws held high.

When I heard about the storm, I was in Pennsylvania, starting my student teaching. I'm pretty sure I cried because I thought my parents were dead. No one was sure. I remember sitting there with my mentor teacher and supervisor, and we were debating whether or not I should commence with the classroom or wait to hear when we could go back. I didn't go back.

This is a dividing line between New Orleanians. When I was at a little grocer in the quarter on Friday night, a drunk woman who was selling roses, demanded to hear my grievance and loss list, she wanted to know if I lost everything like here, lost people, and wanted to know if had stayed to watch the floating bodies. I couldn't reply.

Maybe I'm alone on this, but I've always simultaneously wanted to share suffering and shirk it at all at once. I think this is why I'm attracted to the military, Antarctica, and run-down, corrupt, public schools. I just don't want all that suffering to go to waste.

And at the same time, when I put myself in a situation, I want parlance with all that I knew was waiting for me. Join a Zen temple, but I don't want to shave my head, or water plants, or have my teacher share his opinion.

I can't understand it. I just say a prayer to St. Francis, which starts,

"Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.Where there is hatred, let me sow love;where there is injury,pardon;where there is doubt, faith;where there is despair, hope;where there is darkness, light;and where there is sadness, joy..."

1 comment:

  1. . . . wanting to shirk suffering. I think humans have a reaction, perhaps instinctive, to move away from intense suffering. Maybe this takes place on the level of energy. But with the self-knowledge that comes with meditation, we can choose whether to shirk and how much to share. It interests me that cats do not react to human suffering (perhaps to emotion), and are undisturbed by tears or a heart event.