Daily Prompt: Burning Down the House
Your home is on fire. Grab five items (assume all people and animals are safe). What did you grab?
Gawd, if my house has to burn down I sure hope it doesn’t happen in the middle of the winter, because my five items will have to be two boots, two mitts and one warm hooded coat. And this little blurb will win first prize in the most boring house on fire list of all time contest. I like winning stuff, but not THAT much.
So instead I think I’ll have the house catch fire on a nice sunny summer day with no breeze, so it’s less likely that the rest of the houses on the block will also go up in smoke. I try to be a good neighbour. The fire department is super close to where I live and if I’ve been smart enough to call them at the first sign of danger, they will be here momentarily. Hey, it’s my imagined scenario, and that’s what I want to think. So I have maybe five or ten minutes to rush around in a totally freaked out manner before the hoses take me down. The alarms are blaring, the smoke is getting thick, I need to make some smart choices and I need to make them in a hurry.
I am not that different from every other female person on this planet who owns a handbag. I would grab that first. Do you have any idea what’s in there? More than five items vital for my survival, that’s for sure. Wallet, credit and debit cards, drivers license, health cards, car keys, passport, phone, glasses, tic tacs, cheque book, lip gloss, hand lotion, six or eight pens, and a bunch of loose change. With that slung over my shoulder I feel empowered and virtually invincible.
My lap top and external hard drive count as one item because they are attached to each other. Also attached are all the cords and crap plugged in to the power bar, so it’s one big octopus-like item and I’m not leaving any of it behind. Item number three is my kindle. Then I will gaze for two or three precious seconds with a tear streaked face at my library of actual books and gazillion photo albums. Sorry, sorry, can’t save you all, goodbye! Then I’ll grab the little mini treasure chest that holds precious memorabilia from my ancestors – yellowed letters and ancient pencil drawings and old notebooks that have survived for so many years with different care takers and don’t deserve to meet their end today. Not under my watch.
My arms are full but I can grab one more thing! So I will do some more frantic running around and then decide to drop all this shit I’m carrying on to the seat of my grandmothers hundred year old rocking chair and with a mighty burst of adrenaline powered strength, lift and shove and struggle my way out the door with my five allotted items. Yeah I know it’s way more than five things really, but I think cheating in my case is okay. Because out on the sidewalk there are no other safe people and pets standing around wondering what the hell I’ve been doing in a burning house for so long. W is away in the summer, so of course he would miss all the excitement. It would not cross my mind to wonder if there’s something of his that needs saving. I’ll just happily assume he’s taken all his own vital stuff with him.
So here I am, huffing and puffing with all I have left in this world on the sidewalk beside me. The fire brigade arrives and…..I don’t know what happens next. They unplug my toaster and throw it and the charred remains of my breakfast bagel on to the driveway? The house is a pile of rubble and ash? It was a false alarm, or a vivid nightmare, or a daily prompt that simply sparked my brain?
I hope I never have to face this kind of grim reality or make these difficult choices. But I’m going to add a few snack bars to my handbag just in case.
Let us hope that we are preceded in this world by a love story. That’s a rather beautiful sentiment, isn’t it?
This is the synopsis from IMDb:
When Lars Torviks grandmother Inge dies in 2004, he is faced with a decision to sell the family farm on which she lived since 1920, or cling to the legacy of the land. Seeking advice, he turns to the memory of Inge and the stories that she passed on to him.
Inge arrives in Minnesota in 1920 to marry a young Norwegian farmer named Olaf. Her German heritage and lack of official immigration papers make her an object of suspicion in the small town, and she and Olaf are forbidden to marry. Alone and adrift, Inge goes to live with the family of Olafs friend and neighbor Frandsen and his wife Brownie, where she learns the English language, American ways, and a hard-won independence.
Inge and Olaf slowly come to know each other, and against the backdrop of endless farmland and cathedral skies they fall in love, a man and a woman united by the elemental forces of nature. Still unable to marry, they live together openly, despite the scorn of the neighbors and the disapproval of the local minister. But when his friend Frandsens farm is threatened by foreclosure, Olaf takes a stand, and the community unites around the young couple, finally accepting Inge as one of their own.
I also read, after watching the movie, that most of the Norwegian and German (which of course sounded fine to me) was made up by the actors during filming and is complete gibberish with terrible accents. I guess that’s why there’s no sub-titles for those parts! And if you’re paying any kind of attention at all you will notice that Inge and Olaf harvest a gigantic field of corn and when they get it back to the barn it turns into wheat.
Oh well. It’s a love story. The details don’t really matter. I think Elizabeth Reaser is amazing in this. You can skip to part four for the trailer, because if you play all six parts of this YouTube video, you won’t have time to watch the actual movie! I’m still going to recommend it though. It isn’t perfect, but there are beautiful scenes that will stay with you for a long time.
Today I’ve been inspired by Far Away in the Sunshine to fill in some blanks in a soul-searching exercise. I did something like this before in Complete This Thought about six months ago, but the prompts for this one are a little different, so I’ll see if I am different now as well, or if I’m simply remaining stubbornly the same.
Here is what you can copy and paste to do your own soul-searching. I hope you will take this little challenge and reveal yourself to the world. The more we know about each other the more there is to love, right? Well, I hope that’s how it works.I am
I am always
I can usually be found
I am scared
I am happy
I am a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a grandma and a child of the universe.
I know a little bit about love.
I want the people around me to be happy and unafraid.
I think entirely too much about inconsequential things and not enough about what’s really important, and there are days when I really can’t figure out which is which.
I have everything I need. And then some.
I dislike all this clutter, but I don’t know where to start to make it disappear. Come on over and help me out with that.
I miss my mom.
I fear poor health and pain and tragic accidents.
I feel blessed.
I hear voices in my head. No, I don’t. It’s just me pretending to be voices in my head.
I smell a little off. No shower yet today. I’ll get around to that shortly.
I crave inner peace. Perhaps a shower would help.
I search for more and more things that I’ve misplaced as the years progress.
I wonder why I thought a cupboard shelf was a good place to set down my phone.
I regret nothing major in this charmed life because look where it has taken me.
I love my family.
I care what happens to them.
I am always reading.
I worry that my eyesight will fail before I’ve read everything there is to read.
I remember when that happened to my mom and how audio books saved her.
I sing in a grandmas weakened voice, off-key and scratchy, but with joy in my heart.
I argue about the dumbest things.
I write because writing is as vital to me as breathing. I write on everything, everywhere. I write in my head.
I lose track of time.
I wish there could be an end to all the fighting.
I listen with my ears but I try to hear with my heart.
I can usually be found reading, writing, and never even remotely involved in anything to do with arithmetic.
I am scared of losing the people I love.
I need peace and quiet and a good book. And the occasional glass of red wine.
I forget the bad things as fast as I can. That way there’s more room for remembering all the good stuff.
I am happy to be alive.
There are several sweet and brilliant “K” people in my life, but if I get started talking about them I will never shut up. So I’ll just say a few things about Kismet and Karma instead.
To me they don’t mean the same thing at all, but feel free to correct me if I’ve got this all wrong. Just letting you know that even if you do confuse me with the facts, it’s still unlikely you’ll change my mind about any of this. Ha. Yes, I am one of those obstinate and opinionated people today. Which makes this day not unlike every other one I’ve ever lived, but that’s another topic entirely.
Kismet to me is synonymous with the word fate – a predetermined or unavoidable destiny. We are born, we live and we die. You can’t really argue with that because it is pretty much an unavoidable process for being involved in dwelling on this earth. To us as mere mortal humans, our fates are unknown and unknowable beyond the very basic and obvious. We know death will come but we don’t know when. It’s kind of funny how it totally surprises all of us when you think about it. But that would be because we mostly try so very hard to never think about it at all.
In between arriving and departing, we have free will. We believe we are directing our own destiny. If we didn’t believe this, there would be no point in trying to make something of our lives. We would all just sit around waiting to see what happens next. Sometimes others are very influential in pointing us in a certain direction and we may not be aware of it, or simply not care enough to stop them. Then when things turn out not to our liking we tend to blame someone else for seriously messing with our fate.
The truth is, everything that happens in our lifetimes between birth and death is Karma, or cause and effect. Karma is what we do, and Karma is what comes back to us as a result of the decisions we made on what to do. Life is kind of like a circle, or a looping spiral, or a meandering line going from point A to point B. We get to choose our path. We are in the drivers seat. I could go on and on with these similes, but I choose to stop now. You’re welcome.
“Karma is simply the law of cause and effect. If you plant an apple seed, you don’t a get a mango tree. If we practice hatred or greed, it becomes our way and the world responds accordingly. If we practice awareness or loving-kindness, it becomes our way and the world responds accordingly. We are heirs to the results of our actions, to the intentions we bring to every moment we initiate. We make ripples upon the ocean of the universe through our very presence.” – Christina Feldman Jack Kornfield, Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart, Parables of the Spiritual Path from Around the World.
“There is so much about my fate that I cannot control, but other things do fall under the jurisdiction. I can decide how I spend my time, whom I interact with, whom I share my body and life and money and energy with. I can select what I can read and eat and study. I can choose how I’m going to regard unfortunate circumstances in my life – whether I will see them as curses or opportunities. I can choose my words and the tone of voice in which I speak to others. And most of all, I can choose my thoughts.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert
So what kind of ripples on the ocean of the universe do you want to make? I used to think I was pretty much completely inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. Now I’m not so sure. And don’t try to talk me out of this comforting little notion I’ve got, because I quite like believing that what I say and do might actually matter
I can’t change my Kismet, or my ultimate fate. But I can make some good Karma on the way to wherever I’m headed I can take the bad things that happen and turn them around and head off in a different, new, even better direction. I can be optimistic to the point where I appear to be blowing smoke up my own ass. Sorry if that little metaphor offends, but I figured if I snuck it in here right at the end a large percentage of readers would miss it because they’re already bored to death with this whole Kismet/Karma diatribe.
Just make some good ripples today, okay? Or some big waves. Whatever floats your boat. And doesn’t sink someone elses.
How long has it been since you read a book that brought you to tears? It was yesterday for me. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green is one of those books that’s hard to put down until you’ve made it all the way to the bitter-sweet end. It is about sickness and death, and yet it’s also a life affirming love story, both funny and sad. It is touching, and it is beautiful.
I read a rather awful review written by someone who said John Green could not possibly understand “the terminally dark” since he hadn’t experienced it himself first hand and therefore it was not his story to tell. I think this person was especially upset by the humorous bits, as if the real thing is something you couldn’t possibly joke about. But we all have lost loved ones to cancer and have witnessed the battles and the suffering and the pain and have tried to make our own peace with it. There seem to be as many cancers out there as there are reactions to it, and I don’t believe there is any right or wrong way to deal with it and to cope. Everyone struggles to do the best they can with whatever strengths they have. This story may not mirror your own personal experience, but I don’t think that makes it any less valid.
“I’m in love with you,” he said quietly.
“Augustus,” I said.
“I am,” he said. He was staring at me, and I could see the corners of his eyes crinkling. “I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.”
“When you go into the ER, one of the first things they ask you to do is rate your pain on a scale of one to ten, and from there they decide which drugs to use and how quickly to use them. I’d been asked this question hundreds of times over the years, and I remember once early on when I couldn’t get my breath and it felt like my chest was on fire, flames licking the inside of my ribs fighting for a way to burn out of my body, my parents took me to the ER. The nurse asked me about the pain, and I couldn’t even speak, so I held up nine fingers.
Later, after they’d given me something, the nurse came in and she was kind of stroking my head while she took my blood pressure and said, “You know how I know you’re a fighter? You called a ten a nine.”
But that wasn’t quite right. I called it a nine because I was saving my ten. And here it was, the great and terrible ten, slamming me again and again as I lay still and alone in my bed staring at the ceiling, the waves tossing me against the rocks then pulling me back out to sea so they could launch me again into the jagged face of the cliff, leaving me floating face up on the water, undrowned.”
There is so much to love about how this book is written. All the incredibly wise and perceptive passages made it hard for me to choose just a couple of quotes, but I hope these spark your interest enough to read the rest.