I found myself telling this story today, one of the old reliable parables from my son’s childhood.
Isaac Bashevis Singer received a call from his publicist one day.
“Mr. Singer, great news!” she chortled. “I’ve sold one of your stories!”
When she told the writer which one, he gently disclosed that he had promised the piece to a new literary magazine with no money to pay.
“Oh Mr. Singer!” she cried. “That’s a catastrophe!”
But he demurred. “No, ma’am,” he countered. “No little children will die from it.”
By comparison to the sorrow of two friends who lost brothers this week, my imploded Danskos and aching knee seem trivial. As annoying as it might be, I can handle a last-minute call for a camera crew to film an updated interview at my house on Saturday. Never mind that every surface in the 198 square feet groans under piles of untidied clutter, broken glasses, and unopened mail. Forget the unmade bed in the guest loft and the tilted crock of utensils squeezed between the stove top and the new toaster oven. Give no thought to sad anniversaries, eyes filmy with cataracts, the lurking blues, and the vegetables freezing in the cantankerous tiny refrigerator.
No little children will die from it.
A hand-made wooden sign hangs from the heart-shaped wicker mirror which I bought at the DAV in Kansas City for the guest room of my bungalow during one of my desperate attempts to cheer myself after yet another decampment which left me bruised and lonely. The sign says, “Today, I choose joy.” As I gazed into my reflected eyes this morning, I yearned to edit that gleeful pronouncement. Perhaps I can acknowledge this much: “Today, I aspire to choose joy.”
I have so little about which to complain, and so much with which I have been blessed. I might not embrace joy each and every day, but I firmly intend to do so.
When I got home tonight, I kicked off my broken shoes and wrapped myself in a warm shawl. I wondered what Mr. Singer would make of his adopted country in 2021. Little children have died here, lonely and separated from the mothers and fathers who came asking nothing but safe harbor. I sighed. My shoes, my homesickness, and the various aches and pains seem inconsequential in the face of everything I read in my digital Times. I pushed the ruined shoes into a corner, and set about warming some leftover pasta for dinner.
It’s the eleventh day of the eighty-sixth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.
Every morning when I leave for work, I throw my camera into the car, just in case I have a chance to capture some of the beauty of the surrounding Delta. Here are a few snapshots. Hold your cursor over each photo to see my little captions. Please enjoy