Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Fences into Eternity

There is that old saw about fences making good neighbors, but when I came home to find a post and rail fence being put up along my front yard, extending 150 feet into the woods behind the house, I was appalled and angry. I am amazed at the lengths people will go to just for spite. For that is the only explanation for this fence: a spiteful act made by spiteful and vindictive people. The fence must be costing them thousands of dollars, and I can only think of  the better use to which they could have put that money. There are food banks, animal shelters, so many people in need , and here is a fence that is not holding livestock, not keeping dogs from straying, that has no back and only half a side (my neighbors on the other side of the disputed woods only had 25 feet of fence on their side) and serves no other purpose than to keep me from stacking my firewood in a 15x20 foot section. I had decided months ago not to pursue action against these people and had sent a letter saying so with the proviso that they refrain from doing anything that would adversely affect my property's value.

When I fell from my loft and spent 3 months in recuperation, I realized how close I came to dying. One twist or turn and my life would have been over. I had those three months to reflect on life, on what it is to be alive on this planet. I can't say as I came to any profound revelation other than that our time here is very short, shorter for some of us than others. And all it takes is one split second of poor timing, one mistake or just bad luck, or an incompatible mix of genes and one's already short life ends.

  I wonder if my thoughts would have gone as deep had I been 25 instead of 52 when I took my fall and spent all of those hours staring at the ceiling in my bedroom. But there were nights that as I was lying there trying not to move, I felt that if I looked hard enough, I could see through to the night sky and so, on into infinity. Infinity, eternity, these are very frightening words, concepts that are very hard to wrap our tiny brains around.  The idea that the star filled sky goes on forever, that those very stars have been gone for eons and their light is only now reaching us is  one that I do not believe many people can dwell on for long. Nor do I believe that most humans could deal with the idea of death being eternal without their man made religious doctrine assuring them of a benevolent being awaiting their arrival in a cloud filled heaven, complete with angels and loved ones . We need to believe that there is something more, that "better place", otherwise the idea of the lights going out for all of eternity is a terrifying thought. When one examines these ideas pragmatically, setting fear aside, one can see that we are truly just mere blips on the screen of the cosmos, that our little lives are as one drop of water in an endless sea. When one contemplates fossils that are  millions of years old, our lifespans are negligible.

So, after a summer of deep thinking, I came to the realization that worrying about that 15x20 foot piece of land was a waste of the meager time I have. I let it go, and have been trying to live mindfully, taking in the beauty of the natural world, smiling in the face of my cranky boss' grumbling, ignoring the slights, and appreciating the gifts, trying to live with equanimity.  That's not to say that Greg and I don't have our tiffs, that I don't become annoyed with the sloppy driving of other people, but I do make a conscious effort to exhale and move past all of it.

All of that being said,  I come back to the fence. I will see it today in the light of a new day. Maybe I will laugh at it's absurdity, it's uselessness, see it as the equivalent of an animal's scent-marking, the possessive obsession of small minded people who cannot think beyond the tips of their noses. And I will plant morning glories and moonflowers , clematis and wisteria against it next spring, so that eventually it can become a framework of  vines and flowers to sooth my eyes. It will take a bit of getting used to, that I can not deny. I have lived on this piece of ground for 20 years without boundaries, surrounded by woods, and this new fence is a raw wound that will need  time to heal.

I will let time work it's magic.

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