Congratulations, Claire. You've won Jeff Nichols' TrainWreck - My Life as an Idoit. I don't know if you'll like the book. It's quite irreverent, so if you want to pass just let me know and I'll pick another winner. Otherwise, send me your mailing address via email and I'll wrap the book up and send it to you. (Previous contest books will be going out on Wensday.)
Last night we carved pumpkins and put the finishing touches on our Halloween decorations. Four of the five pumpkins were all a'glow on the front porch and the last one—mine—was waiting inside. The plan was to take a picture of our work the moment that last pumpkin had been gutted, carved, and lit up from the inside. Regrettably, the picture was not meant to be. Quite suddenly I became irritable, then grumpy, then anxious, then the ticking storm began.
The tic du jour was a breathing tic where I exhale, exhale, exhale, exhale…then panic, allowing me to gasp before starting the tic again. Lots of fun. Usually my wife or daughters can massage or prod the ticking muscle, but how does one massage a lung?
After a while, I was desperate. I motioned for my wife to slap me. A small burst of pain can give me temporary control over the tics, and I was getting light headed.
Unfortunately, my wife has never had very good aim. Bless her heart, she did as I asked but missed my face. She clubbed me soundly on the jaw.
Stopped ticking, though.
A few hours later a microburst blew through our neighborhood. There I was, sometime after 2am, tying the tarp down over the bikes and taking in the awesome, majestic fury of nature. Stunning. Wild. Destructive.
The storm in my mind had passed, but the one around me took its toll on our Halloween decorations. It was too late to photograph them. I had missed an opportunity.
As I looked at our spider webs all in tatters and the giant orange & black spider upside down and dangling foolishly, I wasn't upset, though. I didn't blame myself. I didn't rage at the sky. Despite the damage, I knew that I had just experienced a wonderful night delighting in the unbridled creativity of my girls' minds. We could repair the web later.
This was a big moment for me. I can't say that now I'm going to enjoy life's obstacles, but it was a step forward. I can either choose to let the obstacles depress me or I can look for the upsides. I choose the later. There was a time when I'd let the storm consume me, but now I know that the storms of life always pass, as do the storms within our minds.