Opal, harmonicas, and not wasting time

Opal is lonely. She’s got a small body and a small voice, and before I can even say hello she’s asked me to move her chair. It’s scary, she says. Can you make it so I can see people walking by?

She’s 90 (though she insists she’s 98) and tells me how to live a good life: Don’t waste a moment, she says. Get up, get to work, don’t waste time.

I don’t know what to say about the state of the world. It feels like a rotten melodrama with a long intermission — until you realize this play doesn’t end, and it’s not even a play. This stage set is real life and we’re part of the show.  It’s all too much.

Lots of hand-wringing: What do we do now? what do we do?

My refrain: I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. 

Poet Ron Padgett has some suggestions. Among the litany:
Take out the trash.

Love life.

Use exact change.

Those are directions I can follow. 

And so we go to work. Not the “work” of resistance, rebuilding or rebuke, but the actual paycheck work because, well, life goes on. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Laundry, dishes, bills. Read, write, sleep. Repeat. Everything changes and nothing changes.

Fun Fact: the harmonica is the only instrument in which you both blow in and out, and this action helps strengthen the lungs and the muscles that support breathing. Because of this, my dad takes harmonica lessons with a group of pulmonary patients.  

Last week we attended his harmonica concert. Seeing him beaming with ability, with life, turned me tender. I cried all the way through You Are My Sunshine.

And this, I think, is proof of good moments. They move like fog. And while I want to pay attention, some days I’m too weary and these brief moments lift and waft away. But Opal says we mustn’t dawdle. I think she’s right.

Let’s live wide awake, looking for good.