[Reader Caveat: This is stream-of-consciousness writing, not for everyone. And it is long. But it’s real. And if you have ever tasted Secret Squirrel, you will probably enjoy it.]
I know this about myself, that I walk around (drive around) with my head in the clouds. And, you could just as easily call it “head over heels”, which is funny. Everyone walks head over heels (although you don’t want to try driving that way).
But, back to those clouds. Living with my head in them does make things seem ungrounded sometimes. And when I use the word “head”, I mean “heart”. When I mean “head”, at least in this post, I will use the word “mind.”
I can partition my mind and sometimes my feelings and definitely my body, but I don’t think I can do that with my heart (the word “head”, you know, because it’s an expression). I cannot separate it into specific areas and reserve this space for this and that for that. Consequently, there is some crossover into mind and feelings or emotions (but not body—with body, for the most part, I allow it, but can stop it).
Oh well, you can figure out what I am trying to say here.
Between you and me, it seems like every song and every sign and every symbol and every thing really, has meaning. And I do mean a particular meaning. I like that and I let it wash over me sometimes and I want it and desire it, and I get it and I have it, and on and on and on . . . , but it can’t be true that all of it is like that. Pragmatically, some of it has to be for others or for someone else or for nothing in particular, actually, as some of it just is. It just is.
I gotta know that, and yet here I am right now writing . . . with my head in the clouds. At its heights I just know that I could conquer all known worlds if I were called upon to do so, such is the glory of it.
But, then, suddenly, one song hits me, by chance probably–surely, one of those songs that “just is” on the radio, or happens to be playing in a coffee shop or whatever. And it makes me think crap, no, no, no, it can’t be. And my head is jerked from the clouds and flung to the ground and plunged six feet under and I am scrambling for air, clawing my way back up. Or I am tossed overboard, and this can’t be for me, because if it is, then all the rest is topsy-turvy and it’s now heels over head and I am drowning. It rarely happens like that, but it did today. And so I did what I do, and just kept going. All the while as I am going—working—delivering—sailing along, I am trying to make sense of it. And I am thinking hmmm, maybe it is a song that I could sing to someone else or it is an idea that I am to put into motion, to act on, but that’s it. It is not for me in the sense that it is being given to me as a message. It simply cannot be.
So, as I said, I keep going, and I remember moments and real and true signs and symbols and songs and the wonder of Music and the stunning visions of Beauty and it helps—a lot—and then I pray. Inevitably at some point, the wind changes direction ever-so-slightly and the sea is a little calmer. It all is okay, and I know that it is going to be more okay. It’s gonna get okay-er and okay-er, and then it will become okay-est.
Ugh, that is all sorta “in the clouds” talk, but here is what it looked like today on earth:
I am on route “Salvation” because of a confluence of events at work that served me well and it is easy, easy, easy doing this thing called work. The music is wonderful, and my actual departure onto the street to deliver is announced with Mr. Herseth on trumpet. And his pure tone does indeed set the tone for salvation into glory. I am smiling and stopping to take pictures and visiting with customers and it is fluid and smooth and light and sweet and good. So good. And then that song throws me for a loop, and I keep working but it’s not fun anymore. But I keep working and then I am done. And I have an hour, really, left to do something. I must get paid for eight hours of work so I will think of something I guess. I had volunteered earlier, knowing that it would be a fairly light day, to help out. But, nothing extra was needed, so here I am: done.
I’ll head over to Ray’s Farm. I get paid breaks and a lunch and I haven’t really taken any kind of a break, and although I have been eating all throughout the day, I have not stopped, so yeah, I will head across town to the Farm. And I can pray there while I work through this (my head being jerked from the clouds).
“Across town” is not very accurate, actually, as I am in Milwaukie, OR. It does have a quaint downtown with a shop that has a soda fountain, and there is a lovely waterfront area and it would make a nice place to live and might, actually, and ooh there is the Franciscan Spiritual Center and all sorts of nooks and crannies that I know about . . .
But I am not near downtown Milwalkie. I am instead at the end of Salvation, on Bell Avenue, near Johnson Creek Boulevard. I now know that I gotta get to Ray’s Farm to pray. Fast. That’s my Prayer route, and the clouds are calling, and it is a “departure from route”, but they do not care what I do out here because they know that they can count on me to get it done and more.
So “across town” looks like this:
South on Bell. Left onto King at the light and a quick right onto 70th. I hit the intersection with Queen Avenue and it strikes me that King and Queen are parallel but on different routes, ha. I look down Queen as I pass, slowing to look down and then back up, actually, but I don’t turn. I stay on 70th to Monroe and go right then a quick left onto Maplehurst flying around the curve at the end and then right onto the gravel road of Ray’s. It is true gravel, from the river, not crushed rock (which most people call gravel), and I can hear the crunch of it against my tires. I slow down and stop at those trees and kill the engine and turn off the radio.
It is still. It is quiet. There is so much growth, so much life here, and it is vibrant, thriving, green, and fresh. I close my eyes to pray, but then I smile and open them. Our kind Father knows all and sees all, and I want to see as well. My head is in the clouds but it looks like the bark of a chestnut tree . . . and it is sure and certain and so delightful and . . .
My phone rings.
It is my station and “Hey Timothy, did you have a parcel for xxxx Clackamas Street that you left a notice on?”
“Yes, I did. They were not home. I knocked on the door twice and left the notice on their door instead of in the box so that they would know that I was there. It was a priority envelope that required a signature.”
“Yeah, the customer is saying that they were home.”
“Okay, I can swing back by there. It’ll take me less than fifteen minutes.” I am thinking it’ll take me 7 minutes which is less than 15:) and I already know what I will do next.
The engine started, I glance to my right across the grass and I laugh. I’ve been brought back to earth again and there is work to do. I ease toward those two sheds, not turning around because Ray told me once that I could drive through anytime (and I will, thanks Ray), and I curve around, crunching past the barn onto McEachron, left at the half-way house there onto Harmony turning left and Harmony becomes Maplehurst again, then left onto Monroe and I pass 70th and go down to 66th and take a right toward King. I cross Queen in the middle this time and look up and down. Sweet.
At King I can take a right this way, coming out from 66th. Right turns are better, right? Or if there is a signal light any turn is okay. Right on King, left onto Bell again and then right onto Lamphier. I could have gone all the way to Overland, but Lamphier is flat and I can see further and I am moving quickly to get that parcel delivered to the customer who is waiting. I take a left at 78th and then a right onto Overland and then a left into the alley behind Sportsman’s Warehouse and a left on Clackamas and I go just past xxxx and do a U-turn edging into the driveway. I grab the parcel and the customer opens the door and she is so appreciative that I have come back by and in broken English she says, “We home but we have kids and they loud so maybe we not hear you knocking first time when you here earlier . . .” And I say, “I am glad you called and it is no trouble at all to come back because I have the time.”
And I am thinking that now the station doesn’t even care if I make it back by 4:00 (eight hours) because that’s the way it is when you do a redelivery, but I know that I will easily make 4:00 anyway. Package delivered and signed for, I go back up Clackamas and take a right in front of Sportsman’s Warehouse this time, through the parking lot and straight onto 80th and then left into a certain fast food place whose right door is open for me now. I park and go into the restroom to pray. I will not eat the food they serve but they got mail earlier, the first time I came by hours ago, so it’s fine. This prayer is an earth prayer with a little bit of the Chestnut clouds mixed in too and then I leave there and drive on.
I still have time so I go over to a small market and back my truck into a choice spot. I run into the market and it smells just like a place in Wayne, Oklahoma and every other small town that has or had a small grocery store with ripe fruit and wood floors. I pick up all of the Secret Squirrel (Vietnamese coffee) that I can carry and there is an Eagles song playing in the market that is just perfect and I am singing it right now as I type. I paid for my secrets and then I started my truck, and the radio is playing Halverson from Norway. I know that Norway is something but I do not yet know what, but I will, and then I did something I never do really.
I go out to 82nd Avenue.
I like the back roads and streets and alleyways, but this icky stretch of grit and glitz seems right to me and it’ll take me to King where I take a right and then, yep, a left onto 70th again so I can intersect with Queen. Nice. Then, this time I turn onto Queen and go all the way down. Next, it is left onto Linwood across Railroad to Harmony and a left on Lake and a right on Rusk.
The light changes and I stay on Rusk, crossing the Milwaukie Expressway (224) and I am safely sailing around a curve and holy crap there is a guy in my lane headed directly for me so I hit the brakes and look in my mirrors to see if I am about to be rear-ended while I also look ahead at this guy who has swerved to avoid hitting a little plastic water bottle which is pretty stupid dude, because that is a little piece of plastic and I am two tons of metal, but oh well. I keep going and take a left onto Aldercrest to Thiessen where there is a four-way stop, and come on it’s called right of way, and I am on your right you schmuck but go ahead.
Okay, right onto Thiessen to Oatfield where there is this school bus swinging wide to make the turn so I stop way back so those kids can get home, and then I take a right on Oatfield and a left onto Raymond and oh crap the Roto-Rooter guys are sucking up a lot of crap from the sewer I guess because as I am coming down the hill I see the flagger there and three large trucks, and I stop and wait and then he waves me on and I need to turn left onto Harold but I cannot see because there is another sewer sucker parked at the corner. But the other flagger realizes that my vision is blocked so he motions to me that it is clear and I ease out in trust and turn left and then right onto Naef road, going across McLaughlin and left into my postal station.
And it is only 3:30.
So I take my time and talk to everyone and make jokes and the other carriers begin to come in and I clean up all of the undeliverable mail (nixies) and the forwards and I check in my keys and I leave everything better than I found it. I say something about something to the new supervisor and the word “blog” comes up and I mention WaughPaper and that it is my blog and she says what is it about? All of life, really, I say, everything that matters to me. And it is spiritual and romantic and maybe quirky and there is some poetry and . . . Did you say spiritual? What do you mean? Christian, I say, I am a Christian. And she says me too. And now I know.
I come downtown to my apartment, wash up, eat something, think about having a Secret Squirrel, but I don’t, and then I start writing. That was hours ago, when I began, and at 6:06, on the radio, was just the song I have wanted to hear all of my life. There it was just for me, I know. And it is for you too, right now. A gift of God to all who pray, and believe. Truly believe.
I do know that all will be well. It will be on earth as it is in heaven. Feet on the ground, sure, but head in the clouds, always.
Photograph “Always Here” © 2018 Timothy Waugh