Earthquakes, hurricanes and backyard weeds: getting life in perspective

Mexico was hit with a 7.1 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday and with a 6.1 earthquake today. It turned buildings to rubble, including a school where 19 children died. One hundred percent of Puerto Rico is without electricity after Hurricane Maria, which is causing a dam to fail, threatening the lives of 70,000 people.

And, my next door neighbors have knee-high weeds in their backyard. But don’t worry, the Village of Flossmoor is on top of it.

“What I need is perspective. The illusion of depth, created by a frame, the arrangement of shapes on a flat surface. Perspective is necessary. Otherwise there are only two dimensions. Otherwise you live with your face squashed up against a wall, everything a huge foreground, of details, close-ups, hairs, the weave of the bedsheet, the molecules of the face. Your own skin like a map, a diagram of futility, criscrossed with tiny roads that lead nowhere. Otherwise you live in the moment. Which is not where I want to be.”  ― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale

“What I need is perspective. The illusion of depth, created by a frame, the arrangement of shapes on a flat surface. Perspective is necessary. Otherwise there are only two dimensions. Otherwise you live with your face squashed up against a wall, everything a huge foreground, of details, close-ups, hairs, the weave of the bedsheet, the molecules of the face. Your own skin like a map, a diagram of futility, criscrossed with tiny roads that lead nowhere. Otherwise you live in the moment. Which is not where I want to be.”
― Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale

I don’t know if my taxes help pay people to spy on our backyards or if the neighbors ratted them out. All I know is that both of us got caught up in the sting and have 30 days to fix our problems. Ours is somewhat bigger than theirs, a huge old elm that’s dying.

I have a hundred reasons to want to get out of this house and out of this suburb, but the exquisite timing of this warning is my current trigger. I’ll grant the neighbors and my village that I should take care of my tree and that it isn’t ideal to have knee-high weeds, but it’s hard to care about either at the moment, what with the world coming apart at the seams.

I remember our first block party. A woman down the street told me that she hates my next door neighbor, not incidentally the one with knee-high weeds. Another guy told me that a window screen from their second story bedroom popped off and laid on top of the roof for more than a month.

When I was walking my dog the other day, the woman who lives directly behind us asked me what I thought about our neighbors. I knew she was itching for some gossip and to tell me about other atrocities they’d committed.

I told her that I love my next door neighbor. When I was diagnosed, she put me in touch with one of the top bladder cancer specialists in the US, who is a friend and colleague of hers. I got my second opinion from him.

This woman didn’t have much of a comeback for that at the time. I’m guessing that her eventual comeback was a call to the village to complain about the lousy pair of us.

Our elm will probably have to come down, and I know my neighbors will get a trimmer out and level the weeds.

But, still, Puerto Rico won’t have electricity and the families of 19 children and hundreds of others are mourning in Mexico.

Do me a favor? Click my "like" button and join our Facebook community.

If you'd like to know first-hand when I have a new post, type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

Leave a comment