12:12 Out the Kitchen Window (journal entree 13 November 2020)


It’s Friday the 13th, the day before my birthday and I have the day off work but it is also payday. Paying my bills online I see that my mortgage has risen by $150 because of a raise in taxes (I knew it was coming but have been in denial). With such a slight margin in profit in my bi-weekly pay I am left with $39 for the next two weeks. Tomorrow I’ll be 59 and have no money, and after a brief period of darkness this morning feel okay about it. It’s only money; I am able to pay my bills and am not behind on any.

After paying bills I made the mistake of scrolling through a particularly angry Facebook post (not mine) where everyone—grown adults—were arguing and name-calling. I wondered if any knew each other in real life. One person actually posted that they hoped an entire group of people would die. So shocked, I clicked on their profile. They looked as if they were someone's sweet grandparent; there were photos of cute puppies on their Facebook feed, but here—likely from the comfort of their cozy living room—they spewed hate. A dark cloud descended once again, but this time it engulfed me.

I’ve never been one to have a stockpile of money—and that’s okay—but this is the lowest I’ve been in thirty years. To paraphrase the comedian, Louis CK, “I have less than no money.” There are many factors that have brought me to this point and one of them is job change. A few years ago I chose to leave the restaurant business and instead cook for the formerly homeless; I wanted to be of service. It was, in some ways, a response to the world I witnessed around me, both on the job and in my personal life. But doing so also meant a drastic pay cut. At the same time I had enrolled in school (and recently graduated magna cum laude) which equaled a perfect storm financially.

Sometimes I question myself—scratch that, often I question myself—what the hell am I doing? But then I read a post like the one I did this morning and realize that I am on the right path, that it is about the journey and not necessarily the destination and I am choosing a specific path for that journey. My life is so incredibly rich and wealthy in so many ways, just not financially.

Going to the kitchen for another cup of coffee, it was chilly. The bread which was mixed last night before bed had not yet risen so I placed it next to a small flame on the stove for a few minutes to warm the dough and shake the yeast awake. While waiting, sipping coffee and listening to NPR, I stared out the kitchen window. In retrospect it was that type of stare where you are looking but not seeing. The cloud of darkness still followed me.

Where I live the space between houses is barely more than an arm’s length, and the house next to mine is covered in vines. There are small berries, too; something I had never noticed. The reason I noticed them now is because as I stood looking out the window a small bird landed on a vine and began nibbling on berries. It was a beautiful little bird which I’d never seen before, gray with blue wings (a simple Google search suggests it was an eastern bluebird).

As I watched it nibble I contemplated the fact that the bird knew the berries were there, hidden under weathered leaves. Instinct, I suppose. And as I continued to watch, a New Testament passage came to mind where the Christ is telling us not to worry about today or anything for that matter, and suggested we use birds as an example, “look at the birds of the air,” he said (Matthew 6:26). Just then—as I was thinking this—the bird turned and came straight at the kitchen window, its little beak clicking on the glass. It hovered for a split second then flew away.

The Universe speaks to us all of the time, I’m convinced of this, but most times we do not listen. Today she spoke to me loud and clear; screamed at me, to wake up and realize (remember) what is real and true, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” (Matthew 6:34)

No one is perfect, and I certainly am not...far from it; some day I hope to live up to the person I present here on social media. At one day shy of my 59th birthday I am still trying to figure things out; to get closer to the meaning of it all and to know our creator, and I view future years (inshallah) with trepidation but mostly anticipation. I’m uncertain about so many things these days, but something I am certain about is that very few material or monetary things matter. It all eventually fades away. It’s not what we have, it’s who we are. And who we are is how we treat one another and even more importantly how we treat ourselves (one cannot love or even like another if they don’t first love themselves).

There are so many things I want (a new and expensive camera lens, for example), but at the same time do not need a single (material) thing. And this is what I was thinking while sipping coffee in a chilly kitchen of an old house when I glanced at the clock and it read 12:12. Then just like that, the darkness vanished.