Saturday, August 22, 2009

A 5-D Mirror in the Room of Shadows

I fell asleep last night in or about the sixth inning of the Yankee vs. Red Sox game from the Fens, which appeared to be right about the time that the second keg of beer positioned right behind 2nd base was drained dry. Do not misunderstand - as a Yankee fan there is no such thing as a "bad win" over the Red Sox but can we pretend to be just a bit concerned by the sterling effort our pitching staff (most pointedly our relievers) gave us last night? Most evenings 11 runs and 12 hits do not a victory make. Thankfully, last night in the Boston Friday Night Summer Softball League it did. Hopefully today the two teams will play a contest that more closely resembles a major league baseball game.

My timing this morning was as finely honed as that of the Yankee hitters last night. I squeezed in my morning run mere minutes before the heavens above us - here NTSG - opened up. I suspected - as I neared my house - that the lightning flashes in the still-dark sky were likely not a prelude to a soon to follow positive jam. And I must confess that while the thought occurred to me that dying due to being struck by lightning while running before dawn would - if Margaret wrote it up just the right way - likely win the prize for funniest death notice in the newspaper, being a coward at heart my mind was more focused on the thought of getting home as fast as I could. While it was something of a photo finish as I made the final left turn from Delaware onto Decatur and eased to a stop in my garage, I managed to make it home without a single raindrop falling on my head.

On the drive to the office this morning I did something I have not done in quite some time. I popped "Tunnel of Love" into my car's CD player. It is of course the record Springsteen released in the fall of 1987 - his first release of new material since the colossal success of "Born in the U.S.A.". And it strikes me today, as it did when I first listened to it more than two decades ago, as an immensely personal work. But even more so, it still seems to me now - as it did then - that he was speaking of issues percolating not only in his own life but in mine as well.

Twenty-two years is a long time. Had anyone approached me during my years as an undergrad in Boulder and offered me a wager that the trajectory of my life would be the course it has actually followed, I would have lost what few worldly possessions I had. The notion of finding someone to marry and to raise children with seemed as inane to me as drinking whatever house brand vodka the bar was pouring that evening when Smirnoff, Stoli or Absolut were available for a slightly higher price.

And yet, from the drunken, anti-social horse's ass I was as a much younger man, I have ended up in a place much better than I could have ever imagined. I suspect that there is more than one person who knew me then who would posit the notion that I have ended up somewhere much better than I deserved. That argument, I am somewhat embarrassed to admit, is not without merit. There is nothing that can be done to change the past. All I can do is remember it and make an effort to not repeat its mistakes and its sins in the future.

Listening to the album this morning, I was reminded of the power of one track that I often overlook when I envision this collection in my mind's eye and ear. In it Springsteen sings, "On his right hand Billy tattooed the word love and on his left hand was the word fear. And in which hand he held his fate was never clear." And I thought of Margaret, who I left this morning as I do every morning lying sleeping peacefully in our bed as I headed off to the office. And I realized that my timing has been excellent for far longer than just this morning.

It is from her that I have learned the secret of peace, the secret of contentment and the secret of our success. It lies in plain sight - etched on fate's right hand.

-AK

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