Over the past few weeks I’ve discovered different natural bush walks and flat walks along the long roads near my house. And I try to walk for the length of the podcasts I love to listen to.Usually around an hour. Today however, the pain in my right hip, that arthritic bone on bone that comes with age and probably carrying more than my small frame could manage over the years, gave me reason to detour home a bit more quickly than usual.
That first twinge after 20-30 minutes and I whisper to myself. “ Here comes trouble.”
Clearly I like walking more than I dislike the pain because I won’t stop. So back to my walk. As I was walking today I just couldn’t get this song out of my head. You know how that happens sometimes? It reminds me of when there was a scratch on one of my records and it just repeated over and over again. So the words go like this,
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
It seems Joni Michell has a lot to say to me during these times.
She once said trouble was her Muse and maybe that’s one of the reasons she keeps popping up for me. We are not short of trouble during these time. I know that in years to come, if we are still alive, we can look back and observe and reflect from a distance what came out of that time for ourselves personally and for the world.
And we can ask ourselves, did trouble inspire me too?
Trouble inspires me to clean out all the cupboards in my kitchen and brushed away those cobwebs from the entrance to my house. I like cleaning my home. Why not? How wonderful to clean our space.
Trouble inspires us to have a two minute chat with a neighbour you never met before.
My kids call me every day and that reminds me that paying it forward has never been so important. I belong to a group of people from all over the world and we meditate together. We learn and we share what we are learning with each other. And our last conversation was about what can we do in service for others in these troubled times. Trouble was standing very close to me the last time we all met. But the enthusiasm of those in the group sharing their ideas about what could make a difference to those in the world where Trouble wasn’t leaving their side, was enormously uplifting.
I don’t think we necessarily need to feel proud of the kind and thoughtful acts we do for each other, but I do know that doing acts of service bring a sense of joy and fulfilment into our own hearts. I have a school friend who is a bundle of bubbles and joy. And she has known crushing sorrow. She has found ways to be of service to others, including me and every time I see her she appears more and more joyful. And it’s not the joy that requires big wide grins and flowery effervescent sentences. No. That kind of joy is often too much to take when trouble is standing very near.
It’s a warmth and a kind of ‘of course-ness’ that emanates from her when I see her. Of course I’m popping over to give you some of my potatoes. Of course I’m dropping off a pot plant. Of course I’m leaving you with two hand-made masks. She is the one I called when Oren was in ICU and ‘of course’ she just said all the right things because, well she knew exactly what I was going through. She’s had her own troubles.
Did you know there are 339 songs that have Trouble in their title? I looked it up. Trouble has inspired thousands of artists to write and sing and paint and create from their experience of it.
As a child I got into so much trouble. I just didn’t fit into a neat box. I argued with my parents, questioned my teachers, hitchhiked in strangers cars and walked a road less travelled. Some people seem to attract trouble into their lives more than others. Believe me I know!
And so when I listen to Big Yellow Taxi by Joni, I know what she means. Everyone who listens to those lyrics knows what she means. And so I guess the reason this fame-shunting genius, who wrote and painted and lived life with vulnerability and courage, is so loved and admired, is for one simple reason. She is relatable. There is nothing that draws us closer to friends than that feeling of being able to relate. That’s why our acts of service need to be experienced not only as a giving but we must acknowledge that in the giving we are too are receiving.
There is a television series called Merlin. I loved it but probably not for the reason the writers and producers intended. I loved Merlin, the young Warlock whose whole purpose was to protect Prince Arthur who later became King Arthur, because everything he did was done in complete anonymity. Arthur was never to know. And although Merlin was often ridiculed and teased by Arthur, he never revealed that he was the one that rescued the King when he got into Trouble. Without Merlin, Arthur could never have become King of Camelot. And without Arthur, Merlin could never have lived his true purpose.
And so maybe I can’t walk as far, or as well as I once could, but I can relate to those, who know that they have lost something they once had, and yet are damn thankful for what they’ve still got.
Trouble has the power to inspire appreciation. Its paradoxical but true.
In the words of my wise and wonderful late husband, If you don’t have what you want, want what you have.