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T.S. Eliot’s Tire Change


I had visit from the shade of T.S. Eliot. Well, not really. But I had a flat on the freeway the other day, and it went out with a whimper instead of a bang. 

Trust me, I’m very thankful for this (it could have been much worse). Still, there was something disconcerting about the the whole thing… Heading down the highway at freeway speeds, and hearing this steadily growing “whump-whump” sound. Not noticing anything in the handling, mind you, but feeling almost chased by this sound. I kept looking around the interior, trying to identify the source of this peculiar emission. But I couldn’t. So gradually did it grow that it was like the proverbial frog in the pot: the “heat” was turned up so imperceptibly that I kept going, heading for home.

An amorphous, ill-defined unease grew betwixt my shoulder blades, but like trying to reach that spot, I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

The first sign of things being askew was the speed: the car seemed like it wanted to slow down of its own accord, and I had to keep giving it more and more gas. The sound, which I thought could be something loose in the hatch, grew steadily louder.

Finally, there was a smell–one like popcorn left to microwave too long in a Tupperware container. And I thought, What? What’s this? Then the car started to shake, and I knew I had to pull over.

So I do. I put on my hazard lights, and discover that I’m parked close enough (just inside the white line) to the outside lane that it would be in my best interests to clamber out through the passenger side door.

I get out. It’s not just hot, it’s sweltering–a real asphalt jungle. I feel the heat, the displaced air as the cars whoosh! by, and the smell! Exhaust fumes are commingled with the scent of burning rubber in an all-out olfactory assault.

I shut the door, walk back to the right rear side of the car, and I see it: the tire. It looks like it’s been used as a chew toy by a baby Hellboy:

Its sidewalls are shredded and smoking as if some entity had taken flaming razor-sharp teeth to it. I’ve never seen a tire so torn somehow clinging, as if on life support, to the rim.

Sweating and scared at how close I’ve come to calamity, I get the jack out of the hatch, grab the lug wrench, set them down, and go back for the “donut.” Setting it down, I set to on the wheel cover, prise it off, position the jack, and proceed to scrape the skin off my knuckles jacking the car up.

I undo the lug bolts, noting that the tire is still quite hot to the touch. I get it off, set it down, and position the “donut.” I get the four bolts secured, lower the car (being careful not to scrape my hands this time), and gather up the detritus of my roadside adventure.

I stow everything in the hatch, shut it, and climb back in through the passenger side. Instead of trying to merge left into the speeding traffic, I proceed forward through the Gore Point, and merge right into an onramp (no cars coming). This allows me to get up to speed before merging back into traffic.

Changing that tire had to have been the longest ten minutes of my life…

All I Can Do

The last year and a half has been a tumultuous time for my family and I (to say the least). Soaring victory was followed by agonizing defeat. And to add insult to injury, my wife’s health took a turn.

Needless to say, we were left reeling, shaken, wondering which end is up…

“Finding my way back to sanity again”

Thankfully, Lisa’s health has turned around. Even so, after holding it together for so long, being strong, I had a breakdown of sorts a few weeks ago.

“I don’t really know what I’m gonna do when I get there”

Have you been there? So whipped, and wiped, you just didn’t care? It took me by surprise to find that, yes, I’m just a man afterall–incredibly weak, frail, and small.

“Gracefully fall back to the arms of grace”

Yet, even so, somehow God’s strength is perfected in my weakness. I don’t presume to understand it, but I will gladly fall upon it…

Time after time: until the faith shall be made sight, and all is set right.

It’s all I can do.

How about you?

Moving Through Molasses

Mornings are, for me, a slog through lethargy:

A hungover fog of lassitude converges on, and covers, me.

The night, supposed to wash fatigue away, brings me full circle, right where I was before:

Wanting more of that fleeting thing called “sleep.” Yet slowly I creep through the morning’s activities, all while shimmering light harasses

My sleep-starved eyes.

Mornings are, for me, like moving through molasses.

For Every Action… A Post About #BreakingBad

There’s an equal and opposite reaction. So science tells us. And science is at the heart of the pop cultural phenomenon that is Breaking Bad. On the surface, it’s a show about a middle-aged high school chemistry teacher who does just that–he “breaks bad,” i. e., turns away from a life of honest, if not entirely fruitful, work to embrace a life of crime.

But because this man, this Walter White, doesn’t exist in a vacuum, his choices have consequences, his actions have repercussions. Just as equal and opposing reactions are at the heart of science, so too are they at the moral core of what is arguably one of the best acted dramas on television.

A man can’t make meth, or keep secrets, and not have it impact his family, those closest to him. There are always unintended consequences. The fact is, we–like this Mr. White–are finite creatures, limited in perspective, unable to consider every possible permutation of our own actions. The more we try to control the world, and the people around us, the more it slips through our fingers.

Oh, we may get away with it for a time, but the truth has a way of coming out. If there’s a lesson at the heart of Breaking Bad, its this: dog will have his day, but that long-earned reckoning is coming. Biblically speaking, we’re told that the “love of money is a root of all kinds of evil,” that “pride comes before a fall,” and that “the wages of sin is death.”

It is the love of money, fear for his family’s future, and pride that lead Walter White to a life of crime. And is greed that, every time life gives him an opportunity to get out, keeps him coming back. Who among hasn’t faced that temptation? We who are charged with providing for our families, when w survey our bills, look ahead to the future, and wonder what what we’ll have to show for it in the end?

Who hasn’t been there?

That is the genius of a show like Breaking Bad. Besides being, as the British say, “a corking good yarn,” it’s unflinching in its portrayal of a life lived on a man’s terms. How a life lived solely for the self will unravel the lives of those around us. Sin births all kinds of deaths: the death of relationships, loss of work, respect, and actual death itself…

Listen, there’s a lesson here about what a man allows to touch his family. In Walt’s case in particular, as he goes, so does his wife, Skyler. His sin begets hers. Sin begets sin, and eventually brings forth death. It’s axiomatic…

For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction.

And yet into this equation comes grace. Science doesn’t know what to do with it, can’t understand it. Because grace doesn’t obey the laws we understand; in fact, it often very much violates our sense of justice. Grace says that a man like Walter White is never beyond forgiveness, never beyond redemption. Grace says the Son of Sam can be saved, that Jeffrey Dahmer can find Christ…

So we keep watching to see if Walter White either receives his long-overdue comeuppance (will justice finally be served?), or will he find redemption? Will he find grace?

Because the truth is: Walter White is us. Oh, our sin may have nothing at all to do with the drug trade, but may in fact have everything to do with secrets, lies, greed, ambition, sacrificing relationships, etc. to get what we want. Point is: we are all sinners in need of grace.

What do you think?

Staggering Sameness

There’s a familiar quality
To all the world I see around me

I’ve been her before

It’s a staggering sameness, a routine:

Lather, rinse, repeat

I get up, I lay down, up, down, left, right, work, eat, sleep…

Ad infinitum

Isn’t there more?

What am I here for?

I am not better than this (this is life)

God help me survey all that I see
Through the lens of eternity

I give You the helm of quotidian realms… Help me see the holy in mundanity

Take my deja vus and make them new:

Elevate my reality.

I give my staggering sameness to You

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