UNITED STATES—I was just reflecting how wherever human beings are involved, there are contretemps. Now during the height of the demonstrations this cottage was like the house at the corner of the revolution. And the dog got to be taken very seriously as a protector. He got to be let out to yap and snarl as those dogs with Chihuahua blood do. They were true invaders. There was the guy named Ghost credited with swiping my daughter’s motorized bike (later recovered).
So we took this mongrel warning system seriously. And it became standard operating procedure to let him out to prowl around the house, snarl and bark.
But then there was a neighbor across the way who came out and with admirable restraint put the kibbosh on that. One 3 a.m., he said with chilling calm, “Stop that.” The dog withdrew and quickly retreated inside. We’re all a little on edge and I feel for a neighbor trying to get some shut-eye. I put myself in his bedroom slippers and am tribulated by the annoyances of a tired man being coaxed over the sweet cliff of sleep only to be reeled by the wakefulness by a piercing bark.
There, do you hear it? Blissful silence in my own house. I can hear what the gurus and lamas call shruti the high-pitched sound of creation. That’s what I was exposed to so it colors my perceptions. On the other hand, somebody else might consider it tinnitus. Which quietly drives its sufferers mad in a kind of gnarly Edgar Allen Poe way.
It’s all a matter of perspective which it is—tinnitus or the sound of creation? (Thank heaven the devil dog has quieted down). In the last weeks I have been very busy with a little project designed to turn myself into a household name. I considered having my name legally changed to Lysol. Instead I have turned to social media, which is this heathen force of nature.
I find it pleasant, a lot of times to reconnect with folks fondly remembered and spread the emoticons. But there are times the images of people hiking in the Alaskan wilderness, and the scenes of bliss kind of get own thinking: well why am I not doing that & why am I so technologically behind: like I don’t have the colorful app to make cartoon signs, and why has so-and-so gotten a Guggenheim?
Anyhow, something did happen that encapsulates the matter of perspective: a couple weeks ago I was picking up coffee to-go at the cafe around the corner. Since there was nary a customer, the woman who runs it was sitting at a table with her own coffee and looking at her cellphone. Something in the screen was shocking. Her body shook and she let air out between her teeth.
Soon enough the woman came over and showed me the video on the screen: it showed a mushroom cloud and shockwaves in rapid expansion, then the video image tilted on its side. It was a scene in Beirut, the fabled Paris of the Middle East.
It was terrible. There were no answers. I only knew that I had to ensconce myself in social media and do postings for my publisher’s Facebook page. It was necessary to devote myself to my own little vineyard and not worry about the bol wevols attacking my neighbor’s crop.
I went home quietly, sobered by the scene I witnessed. It was necessary to exercise discipline: once I got home, I could not look up the news and get sidetracked.
Finally, it was seven or eight at night that, with immense Thanksgiving, I discovered that the explosion in Beiruit came from seized cargo of ammonium nitrate negligently stored for use and had not been a the nuclear warhead that my eyes that morning persuaded me I had seen in beautiful Lebanon. The city had been wounded, deep and undeniable, but not wounded in a geopolitical way that surely would have given a resounding answer to those people who so irresponsibly chirp: “What more could happen?”
You ask something like that and you’ll get an answer from the Gods. I had lived with that one nuclear answer playing around the corners of my mind all that fatal Tuesday: a power in the Mideast had chosen the path of bombs away.
Thank heaven it was not the case. How hard it is for most people to fathom all the catastrophes we barely avert just to get through the live-long day by the skin of our teeth.
Grady Miller is the author of “Later Bloomer: Tales from Darkest Hollywood” (available on Amazon).