Vision: The Via Positiva: the Blessed Mess by Howard Hanger

July 7, 2016 |

Clutter and mess show us that life is being lived. – Anne Lamott

Life is just so painful and messy and hard and worth it and all that stuff. – Robert Downey, Jr.

Not only had the monsoon-mimicking rain kept him up most of the night, it had opened leaks in the roof of his newly-purchased home. First discovered leak was the one directly over the toilet – his one and only toilet.  This was his first non-rental abode.  At age 33, the first home he had ever owned.  It was listed by one realtor as a cabin and by another as a cottage. He called it his “cabage.”  He had moved in two weeks ago, and was stinkin’ proud of it.  His dad called it a “primo bachelor pad.” And though he didn’t like the terminology, he loved the concept.

His name was Francis Lucius Baumgarden,IV.  It was a family joke that no one ever wanted the name, so they kept passing it down.  So, rather than tempt the bullying fates in school, he had always gone by Luke.

Now, Luke’s roof was leaking. He’d gotten very little sleep and had an important 8:00 a.m. meeting with his supervisor at work.  He drank his coffee, sat on the toilet with a towel over his head, showered and opened his closet to discover yet another leak immediately over the shirt  – the only currently clean shirt – he was going to wear for the meeting. It was soaked.  “Oh boy,” he muttered.  “Oh friggin’ boy!”  He plundered through his laundry basket sniffing the armpits of each of the shirts and scoping the fronts for pizza droppings.

Now he was running late, but finally dressed and remembering he didn’t own an umbrella, he wrapped himself in a garbage bag, grabbed his iPod and headed out the door only to discover that his car was completely surrounded by a puddle of water at least 6 inches deep. Car Island. Which meant he would have to go back inside, roll up his pants, take off his shoes and socks, go back outside, wade to the car and finish dressing in the front seat.

However, even though he was in pretty good shape, trying to negotiate socks, shoes, iPod, rolled-up pants and garbage bag through the pond surrounding Car Island did indeed tip the scales in his coordination department and one shoe with sock inside, took a dive. A sole-soaking dive.

He squish-thump-squish-thump-squish-thumped into the conference room at 7:58. His shirt didn’t smell that bad though a quarter-sized glump of (possibly) guacamole had found a home just above the pocket.  Probably droppings from last night’s Mexican dinner with his girlfriend.  His supervisor – always an advocate for good appearance – came in looking as if he had stepped from a Calvin Klein website.   “Luke, I’m sorry. Got an unexpected Skype call in 10 minutes,” he said. “We’ll have to meet later.  What’s that on your shirt?  Did you have guacamole for breakfast?”  And he was gone.

Francis Lucius Baumgarden IV, sat alone in the conference room with an iPod, a wet foot and a soggy garbage bag stuffed in his pants pocket.  He took a deep breath and let out a heaving sigh.  His phone beeped.  Text.  It was his girlfriend telling him that she had been throwing up all night. “I think it was the guacamole,” she texted, “so I won’t be able to see you tonight. Hope you have a really good day.”

Francis Lucius Baumgarden IV, began to cry. “God,” he mumbled aloud, almost as if it were a prayer, “God, why does life have to suck?” Silence. More silence. But then, almost as if in answer to his prayer, the phone beeped again.  “And remember,” his girlfriend texted, “I really love you.”

Francis Lucius Baumgarden IV, felt a silly grin curl his cheeks under the tears. He breathed another deep sigh, but this one had a sweetness to it.  He stood up. “I’m a lucky guy,” he whispered to anyone and no one.  “I’m a friggin’ lucky guy.” And he squish- thump-squish-thumped all the way to work.