The other day I bought pastrami. I don’t usually buy pastrami, it just sounded pretty good. And it was, the next day, when I ate said sandwich outside at a picnic table on my lunch break. Unfortunately, that sandwich used the last of my bread.
Tonight I went to get more bread. Instead of my usual bread, I decided to go with rye, which is a much better pairing for a pastrami sandwich. I was only going to get bread, but suddently I thought sauerkraut sounded really good on a pastrami and rye sandwich so I went to look for it in another aisle.
In that aisle, I came across some really good looking mustard. Hm, I thought, that would go great on a pastrami and rye sandwich with sauerkraut. Only, I still need sauerkraut and it is not in the aisle I thought. So I went back to the meat and cheese section and voila, there was the sauerkraut.
Carrying it back to my apartment, I was salivating at the thought of my delicious sandwich. I had good cheese in my fridge to top it all off. I was excited about lunch the next day, because to me, a day feels so much better if you have a really good lunch to look forward to.
Then I thought, man, that sandwich sounds really good, I kind of want one right now. You see, I was on my way back from working out, and I was hungry, even though I had already eaten dinner.
But then, everything was ruined. The sandwich sounded really good right then, but if I had it right then, the excitement of an unknown but surely delicious sandwich would be gone. The anticipation, the part of a great lunch that I enjoy the most, would be missing entirely when I sat down to eat my lunch at the picnic table outside. But on the other hand, I thought, if I crave it tonight, and don’t eat it, then maybe I won’t have a taste for a pastrami and rye sandwich with cheese, mustard, and sauerkraut tomorrow, and I will have missed my chance for the perfect sandwich experience.
This is pretty good insight on how my brain works, people. I’m crazy. I wish I could tell my brain to just shut up so I can eat my delicious sandwich. But, really, should I eat it now, or later?
This past weekend I heard through news outlets and social media that there was a climbing accident on Mt. Rainier that took the lives of 6 people.
When I moved here I became fascinated with the whole idea that there are ACTIVE VOLCANOS very near to Seattle and did a fair amount of research on them, mostly Mount St. Helens and Mt. Rainier. I learned about lahars, which are giant mud and rock flows triggered by volcanic eruption. They can bury entire towns. I learned that Mount St. Helens was the most recently active volcano in the United States. Mt. Rainier, at over 14,000 feet above sea level, looms in the skyline of Seattle, its presence both ominous and comforting. A volatile smile on the horizon of a clear day. Liberty ridge, which is the path that the climbers were using to reach the summit, is composed of lava rock, ice, and snow, and is considered one of the most challenging and dangerous routes to take.
Most of the time you hear about a tragedy like this and that is all it is. A tragedy on the news. You hear about it, think about it for a few minutes, and then move on. You didn’t know anyone involved, it is outside your sphere.
Tonight I was having some drinks in a bar around the corner from where I live and a very large group of people rolled in. Soon after, the bartender laid out a bunch of shot glasses - 22 to be exact, and started filling them up. And these were not normal shots, she was really giving them a tall pour. I made a comment about how these were some hefty shots and she glanced over her shoulder at me and told me they were having a memorial barcrawl. When the twenty-two shot glasses raised into the air I learned that these were the friends of the two climbing guides that died on the mountain.
I sat there for a while while they all mingled. I could not hear the conversations, but as the group began to dissipate, I watched. I watched the hugs, the embraces that these people gave each other. And it simultaneously broke my heart and gave me hope. It broke my heart because I have been there. And I could feel the hugs I was watching. They were hugs born of tragedy. These were long embraces, people holding onto each other tightly because that is all there was to do. But I felt hope, because in watching these people, in their moments of pure vulnerability, I could see that they would be ok. They were part of a community, a supportive community, and they were going to toast to their fallen friends and remember them, and tell stories, and hug their sadness and grief away. And one day they would be okay again.
But on top of that, I realized just how small the world truly is. You hear about these tragedies on the news and you think, wow that’s terrible, but often it feels so far removed. Then a gang of people come rolling in to the same room as you and their lives were intertwined with the anonymous people you heard about while you were browsing the internet and eating cereal and drinking coffee that morning. And there they are. And there you are. And now your life, in a brief and marginal, but powerful and meaningful way, is intertwined with theirs, in this moment, this vulnerable moment of raw exposure. Their loss is not just names in the news anymore.