Sandpoint, Tuesday, July 21, 2014
Rain. It is startling to see rain on my window pane. It is an extinct phenomenon in California. Just a few drops on the glass here are intoxicating. Will it ever rain again in Sunny Cal? It had better. Someone will make a fortune trucking in water. But it won’t be me.
I awakened with a nasty intestinal virus. Why? I don’t know but my wife had it two days ago so it’s going around. As my pal Phil always says, just a touch of nausea makes life deeply unsettling, destroys all sense of proportion, robs you of your vitality. That’s just a touch of nausea. My Tazo Refresh Tea helps, but I need lomotil as well.
I slept very late, then answered e-mails. As I saw the rain hovering over the lake, I read the encouragement of those who have been angered by my rough treatment in the media. The one I treasured especially was from a woman of roughly my age. Many years ago, she had a middle-aged pregnancy through an affair with a married man in the construction trades.
This woman is the daughter of Holocaust survivors. Both of her parents had been the only ones to survive except for one sister when Hitler set out to make Europe Judenrein. They had worked and struggled to give this woman, whom I will simply call J., a good start in life. Then, in her forties, she was desperate: pregnant, boyfriend abandoned her, parents unable to offer much help. She was considering whether to have the baby. I told her that she must not even think of colluding with The Führer in ending her family’s bloodline forever. I told her I would make sure she was never homeless or broke as long as I could, and that her child would have a good education.
J. had her baby, a magnificent girl. I have been like a father to her from the day of birth. J. almost immediately became chronically ill. I have supported her and her daughter for close to 21 years now, through private Jewish day schools. The daughter is on her way to a great career in public policy, now on the campus of an Ivy League school
J. wrote to tell me that her mother was praying for me, that I had brought her the greatest happiness of her life (the mother’s life). She also wanted to tell me of her opinions about the gossip media, which delicacy prevents my sharing with you.
There were many more and all encouraging. Good to have friends.
I had a modest meal of scrambled eggs and muffins and headed into town to do a bit of shopping. The rain had stopped. At every store, the clerks and customers called me by name and squeezed my arm. We’re all pals here in Sandpoint.
But this stomach thing is killing me. I dosed myself on Mint Tea, and Alex and I headed up to Schweitzer, the ski mountain here, to meet up with some important officials of several Mountain States. I was to have dinner with them, then speak to them. They were a handsome, rugged looking group. The wives were especially impressive. Attractive, focused, friendly, absolutely no pretentions at all. I told them how, to me, Sandpoint was like one big happy family, like a family out of Ozzie and Harriet days. This place is America’s America. When people want to leave the anger and crime and dirt of the big city or the suburbs, when they want to go to a place where the news does not lead with ten stories in a row about gang killings, this is where they want to go.
When they want to feel safe, this is the place.
When they want to leave tension, competition and surliness as daily facts of life, Sandpoint is the future.
We left the event but this darned stomach bug hit me so hard with dizziness and nausea as I came down the hill that I had to pull over three times to rest and actually fall asleep by the side of the road.
Finally, we made it home. In a few minutes, I am going to watch a film noir classic, The Asphalt Jungle, starring Sterling Hayden, Louis Calhern, and a new star on the scene, one “Marilyn Monroe.”
But first, a few admonitions from “The Gift of Peace.”
* Today, I will stay away from people who are foreseeably harmful.
* From now on, I will forgive myself as much as I forgive others.
* Whatever I am going through, others have done it with God’s help.
* The answer to every problem and every issue is, “God’s will be done.”
* I can live in the wild tempest of fear of the future or in the calm pool of the now.
* I am not the Director of the movie of my life. That is a Power far greater than I will ever be.
* Life is filled with unresolved problems. That’s why it’s called life.
* The absolutely shortest, surest way to peace is to fall to your knees and surrender to what God has ordained for you this day.
Good night from Sandpoint, where the trains run all night. Their tracks encircle and guard this small island of peace with immovable steel.