78: How Sweet It Tastes (David Mochel)

                On my way back home tonight, a very nice man let his big white truck give my little car a kiss. That was about an hour and a half ago. I had another piece almost finished for Uproar, but then, about five minutes ago, I was heating up my vegetable curry. It’s a beautiful, glistening red (that’s the beets), red like jewelry, red like dyed cloth. My hands slipped and a poured a plate of it across the counter, the face of the cabinet, the floor and my shirt. I was on my hands and knees cleaning up when I realized this afternoon was a good afternoon. It was.
                A week ago, David Mochel told me about watching someone he loved try to fix the WiFi. Every once in awhile, this person paused to tense up their muscles and give a sharp loud “RRRGGHHHH!” “I don’t mean to sound mean,” said Mr. Mochel–”But what was he doing with that? What did he think he was doing?”
                It reminds me of the old Zen story about the strawberry. A man runs from a fearsome tiger until he comes to a cliff. With the tiger right behind him, he grabs a vine, and swings himself over the edge. Hanging there he looks far, far down, to where another tiger (where are they all coming from? Is there enough game in this region to support both? Or maybe the cliff separates two different hunting grounds….tigers do have separate hunting grounds, right?) sniffs up at him. The other tiger is more of a thought than a danger–the fall would kill him, anyway.
                Two mice, one black and one white, start nibbling away at the vine this man is holding. He looks around for something else, and finds only a small plant with shallow roots and one red strawberry. He looks around for another moment. He reaches to the little plant.
                How sweet it tastes.
                These last few hours have been wonderful. I met a nice man. He was glad, even surprised that I wasn’t mad at him. “You could’ve stepped out yelling,” he said; that surprised me, because after the first moment of fear (am I under attack by Mad Max Road Warriors?), after his first respectful words, it hadn’t really occurred to me to be mad. A little while later I talked to my brother, heard my niece laughing (and asking for more snacks; “You ate all the snacks we brought,” my brother told her; she seemed satisfied with that), and got home. My brother told my parents I’d just been in a bit of a scrape, so I talked with each of them, told them I was okay, got some advice and support, and said I loved them. Then I talked to some insurance people–they were also very kind. Now I’m eating the curry that stayed on my plate. Okay, and the curry that landed on the counter. The counter’s pretty clean.
                This moment, these conversations, and (it might be the beets) this curry–how sweet they taste.

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