Halcyon Days: Life between Crises

LouiseExcellWhen I was younger, crises and tragedies happened in my life, but they always ambushed me—I never saw them coming because I was too busy living the moment and planning for an endless future.

A classmate, a few grades above me, was killed in the jungles of Viet Nam while Viet Nam was just a “police action.” A beloved aunt, too young, died of breast cancer; my grandparents, one-by-one, died of old age.  JFK shot down in Dallas, RFK in Los Angeles, MLK in Memphis.  These were tragedies that punctuated my life, gave me pause to contemplate mortality, justice, the nature of God and fate, the meaning of existence.

But these events were hiccups in a life otherwise occupied with being, doing, planning, dreaming.

As I grow older, especially now, as I enter the middle of my sixth decade, my perspective on tragedy and crises has changed somewhat.  I expect disaster now.

A beloved cousin succumbs to cancer; another bleeds to death because an emergency room doesn’t make a diagnosis in time to save him; an old friend takes his life in a moment of intense sorrow and hopelessness.  And in the larger world, teenagers and young adults are gunned down in a theater; Sikhs are murdered in their temple; six-year-olds are massacred in their classroom; entire communities are ravaged by meth labs and drug addiction; wildfires and floods destroy the homes, hopes, and dreams of thousands of my fellow humans in my own backyard.

I find that death, disappointment, anxiety about loved ones, and genuine sadness in the face of events beyond my control are facts of life that spread themselves randomly across the days, weeks, months, and years. I try to eke out life as I wish it to be between the tragedies and crises; I am grateful in a numb sort of way when months go by without a death, an illness, a personal loss, or an horrific disaster somewhere.  I am no longer complacent, no longer so oblivious to the slings and arrows of fortune—these are my burden to bear as a person in the world.

What is important to me now is making the most of the halcyon days between storms.  An awareness of fleeting time, the vagaries of fortune, and the things over which I have more control, have given richness to the pacific moments.  I cherish the quiet—no talking heads, no shrillness of breaking news, and no breathless accounts of celebrity misadventures.

The metallic buzz of a male broad-tailed hummingbird at the feeder, the cascading song of a canyon wren on the hill, the breeze in the juniper—those are the melodies and rhythms of life between crises.

This entry was posted in ZiCC Literature on by .

About Dan Mabbutt

I was introduced to Zion Canyon as a teenager working for Utah Parks Company at Zion Lodge. (See my Zion Park Centennial writing contest winning essays "Zion Lodge Stories" here under "About ZiCC".) I bought land here as soon as I could and moved here after a career misspent in corporate data processing. Springdale and the Zion Canyon Community is special and this website is my contribution to the strength and unity of the community.

3 thoughts on “Halcyon Days: Life between Crises

  1. Barbara

    Louiise, Thanks for your Halcyon Days.

    I like to think of retirement not as the middle of the 6th decade, but rather as a 3rd part of our special journey in life. Past the growing-up years, past the productive years, and now in REAL time, with canyon wrens, meditating over tea, listening to music, sharing wisdom and love, and honoring our environment alone or with friends.

  2. Lena Mabbutt

    Thank you Louise ….for a beautiful reply on Dan’s webpage. But to me it’s a lot more than that. It’s something I would like to keep folded in my pocket so that I could re read it each time I come to a new “crises” in this different world of Southern Utah; quite different from the one I grew up in. It’s like Dan tells me time after time; “Moma, what is your job now?” We both know now that our roles have changed. Now he is the adult, I am the learner. The answer is…”To be happy ” . Not many people get to enjoy this phase of life. Lena M.

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