It started with my Memo book. That little notebook I carry in my front pocket that carries my lists, phone numbers and inspired ideas. Never lost one in 25 years and then I did. But that was just the warm-up. Two days later, the cursor disappeared from my computer. I shut the computer off manually, re-started and got the dreaded flashing question mark. Off to the Apple Store and the bad news— after seven years of faithful service, my hard-drive was failing. One window of hope at a recovery service, where the wheels are in motion to see how much can be saved— including the 30 pages I wrote this week of my new book, backed up exactly nowhere else. If it’s recovered— good news. I won't have to try to recreate inspired sentences that will never be written as they were. If it's recovered— bad news. It’ll cost some $500. And then, of course, the cost of a new computer.
The way our minds work, one loss leads us to the others until we’re deep in the muck of self-pity. The loss of communities I belonged to do that still talk the talk, but the walk they walk is limping and wandering off the mark. All the people who once cared for me that care for me no more. All the people I used to care for whom I find hard to forgive for betrayals, transgressions and disappointments. The loss of a dependable body that wakes up without mysterious aches and pains and chronic spasms in the neck that come from nowhere.
And so I decided to carry my pity with me on a long walk home from downtown, through Union Square past where Borders once was, where the San Francisco twin sisters used to parade before one passed away, past where Café Mozart used to be, past the Fairmont Hotel outside elevator dormant for 10 years now and up to Grace Cathedral. Walking in a light mist, the world drenched through with impermanence. Sit on a bench and see the doorway of Cathedral School, where I once huddled away from the rain and told someone the story of another great loss in my life.
Down the bench from me, a couple drinking beer while the woman tells a story about Pearl’s Jazz Club, now closed. In one corner, a mother pushing her child on a swing. In another, a man with some apparatus tied to a tree doing exercises. In the middle, people walking their dogs. And off to the right, an elderly Chinese woman dancing to taped Chinese pop music. A combination of Tai Chi and mild Zoomba, feet hopping, hands gracefully circling, arms opening to the heavens, completely unselfconscious, neither dancing for show nor feeling self conscious out in public. I sit and write in my journal, trying to make sense of life’s great questions and breathe myself through to the other side of acceptance and gratitude. The mind knows these losses are small in the big picture, but they work on the same doubts and sadnesses as the bigger ones and therefore are as real and valid.
Meanwhile, the swing still swings, the exercise ropes stretch, the beer gets drunk, my pen keeps scratching across the white pages and this lovely woman keeps dancing dance after dance. If she can do it, well, why can’t I? Dance through these changes, joyful, determined, sending the message to the gods that I’m still moving.