Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Little Real Life

People live three lives these days: daily, media, and inner. One of these is unavoidable, another is neglected at our peril, and the third, frankly, is becoming quite absurd. Both daily and inner life are “real life,” this in contrast with what “real life” is supposed to be about if we watch today’s entertainments. Daily life in our now retired state still holds its daily chores. Sometimes they are unusual and produce their own muted little triumphs. Sure enough the string-pull light above this station, which turns on the fluorescent lamps above, once more went on the blink. There are seven such in this basement; six have been in place since, well, since 1989 when we bought this place. But the one above me has been replaced, this morning, for the fourth time. Hard, black wires, their copper teeth bared, must be attached to two screws set into a porcelain device. And then the device, with suitable openings, must be threaded, in a manner of speaking, around two longer screws until they “catch.” After that the screws are tightened and the job is done—in relative darkness because the basement lights are turned off at the fuse box. And—it worked! The muted triumph. Real life. That life also involved my visit to Ace hardware. We began in sunshine—using which I cleared off last year’s vast clump of dead Michigan bamboo stalks (read Japanese knotweed, link). Drops marked my windshield on going, rain fell hard as I returned, having swiped my card and signed my name on a little calculator-sized screen with a kind of stick anchored to this device by another black wire. As if those signatures mattered. The Little Real Life has its own profound mysteries too. Returning Brigitte told me that an upstairs walk-in closet has another overhead that fails to dispense its light. Another item for my to do list in the Little Real Life; they are sometimes challenging, as that closet, I fear, shall be. But so long as the problems are little, no problem; when they are bigger, the pains tend to be financial. But nothing compared with what flows over the media every day, every day. And turning them off only helps a little—because the chaos is in the air. Which then, of course, reminds us of the Inner Life. It holds out hope.

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