My darling neighbor–the contractor who is developing the vacant lot between us–phoned just now to give me a heads-up on “extraordinary noise.” By communicating with me, he’s now giving me the opportunity to choose to leave for the day. I only wish he’d thought of that before his construction began–that he’d had enough consideration to give me time to make plans to leave town for several months. As it is, I’m forced to find somewhere to hang out all day; frankly, Scarlett, leaving town would have been my preference.
Since my last post, they’ve completed the footers, set stems and poured the foundation–with nights well below freezing in the low ‘teens, days in the high thirties to low forties Fahrenheit.
As it moved back and forth, reaching every inch of that vacant lot, I couldn’t stop myself wondering when it would hit my stucco house.
Like here! WOW! inches from a 90″ x 48″ window and a vent pipe for the gas service downstairs.
But then I watched for a while as the operator worked in concert with the guys on the ground. They knew exactly what they were doing as they filled the forms for those footers. I had to admit being impressed.
And my respect extended to the engineers who designed the equipment to be so responsive to the operator, and their understanding of the work in the field, to develop an arm that could reach every inch of a 75×100′ city lot.
Even though they’re this close, even though the machines are huge, by allowing myself to be interested, to observe what they were doing and even occasionally ask questions, my resistance to this intrusion in my life was fading.
I went inside to watch their work from my bedroom window… OMG! That’s MY fence! and the reality of the proximity of all this hit me square in the face. I felt the discomfort rising again…
By four pm I realized I’d better take out the trash because I can’t do it after dark anymore. The excavation pit is about a foot from the bottom of my stairs and there’s almost always ice on the ground there in winter. Yikes!
That’s not the only change I’ve had to make–training myself to take out the trash during daylight hours. I’ve also quit walking straight to my car from the bottom of my stairs. Now I go through two gates in the fence around the house. Once working from early morning to late afternoon, now I do my reading and writing, what there is of it, either after the workers leave, or in the dark hours before they arrive. I’ve created a list of “Things I can do when it’s noisy,” and “Things I can do when it’s quiet,” although I have to admit that just because it’s suddenly quiet does not mean I can move into writer mode, because I have no idea how long it will last. I have a list of places I can go if it’s too cold to stay outside for very long.
And all of that, I realize, is…nothing. I realize that what I’m experiencing is nothing compared to what others go through every single day of their lives with no hope of it ever changing–at least not in their lifetimes. And when I do, I follow the advice of Pema Chodrin, that wonderfully wise Buddhist monk who taught me to breathe in a breath for everyone, everywhere, in a similar experience…then breathe it out with a blessing for all. (See When Things Fall Apart).
Till next week–I’ll be Skating Thru the days completely open to new possibilities (like today when I was invited to go bowling with some gals in a town forty miles from here!), and embracing the lessons that come my way. Like this sudden thought: maybe I had lost my flexibility and now am getting lots of opportunities to regain it? How about you? Are you being flexible with the challenges that come your way? ~Pam
P.S. The effect of noise on my nervous system is evident in the fact that I wrote–and thought I published–this post last week (February 1, to be exact)! I only discovered it had not been published when I was at the library, wanting to review it before trying to write one for today!
Related articles in this series re’ living next to winter construction: