I’ve been cleaning the house today, a much hated task that I can only get through if I’ve got my tunes playing. I’ve got a pretty good playlist going on Playlist.com and one of the songs is Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians‘ What I Am. Hearing it again brought up an old memory of one of the ways I managed to get through life back in the days when the song was getting heavy airplay (1988ish).
This was back when I lived in Chicago with my two small girls. I was a single mom and aspiring standup comic. I was terrified most of the time because I was doing a lot of things for which I was ill equipped but, nonetheless, felt urged to do. I was subject to massive anxiety attacks that would sometimes force me to pull off the highway while on my way to an out-of-town gig to wait until it passed. I had to keep plugging away and moving forward because I really didn’t have much choice.
Back then, I didn’t know much about meditation or any of my other, current coping tools, so I was pretty much on my own to figure out how to not flip out on a regular basis. Here is one of the things I did (with a little preliminary background first):
We lived in a really shitty little apartment, a third-floor walkup, which was all I could afford. I did what I could to fix it up, like painting a faux-diner menu (I called it Mom’s Eats) on the kitchen wall and an eyeball peeking through a crack in the wall directly across from the toilet (this helped me to poke fun at my paranoid fear of being watched by some sort of booger man).
One of the things that brought me the occasional moment of Zen, oddly enough, was taking a shower at a specific time of day when the sun was shining. The water pressure in the shower (back in the days before “water saving” shower heads) was strong, heavy and satisfying. The sun would shine through the window, at that specific time of day, and it would cause prisms in the falling water, creating sparkling liquid diamonds and rainbows–my own virtual laser show.
Right around that time, my favorite tape (yes, this was pre-CDs) was Shooting Rubber Bands at the Sky by Edie Brickell, et al. I always played the tape, while showering, on my daughter’s portable dual-cassette player which was precariously balanced on the edge of the bathroom sink.
One of the first songs on that album was What I Am, so I almost always heard that song while I was being enchanted by the shiny objects splashing onto me. It was easy for me, with my tendency to drift easily into sci-fi scenarios, to imagine that each rainbow diamond was a power-up drop. It may not seem like much, but when you have very little in life to make you smile, you find comfort where you can.
Hearing that song today brought back the memory of those precious moments. “Philosophy is the talk on a cereal box. Religion is the smile on a dog. I’m not aware of too many things, I know what I know, if you know what I mean. Do ya?” 😀
Here’s you some smiling dogs:
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