It was a dark and stormy night. My son, John, and I were on our way to the supermarket, busting our humps because it was minutes before it closed. We were on a mission – had to pick up some vital but obscure ingredient like croutons or paramecium cheese for the b’sghetti and meatballs. Prolly the latter.
It really WAS dark and stormy. The wind was screaming and it was raining sideways like in a gothic novel. The one where on the cover a mysterious woman in a flowing gown stands on a rocky coastline crag at night with waves crashing up around her.
A huge, thick tree I think of as a giant oak but it could have been a pussy willow for all I know, had fallen over from a neighbor’s yard and lay blocking the road, with its branches flailing wildly.
We abruptly came to a stop. “Plot twist!” John exclaimed.
He was spot-on about that because suddenly we were in the gothic novel, in the part where we were trapped by a fallen tree and the werewolf suddenly appears at the driver’s side window offering to squeegee my windshield. Goodbye paramecium cheese. Goodbye b’sghetti. Hello completely new reality.
It Happens to the Best of Us
Plot twists come in all sizes, from little—locking yourself out of the car with the motor running and a baby in the carseat—to big and cataclysmic, like when your shiny new cruise ship scrapes an iceberg in the North Atlantic.
Or strange, awkward ones, like the text burst on your satellite phone from Mendez on the expedition, “come at once found god”. So you all grab your prayer shawls and lists of sins you want forgiven, and go flying down to the lost Pacific island of Poco Loco to meet the Lord. Upon arrival you realize that what Mendez meant to say, had he been able to finish typing it, was, “come at once found godzilla.” And there you are, just in time for lunch.
Even worse plot twists, the ones we live in fear of, are the 2 a.m. phone call, and someone essential to us is suddenly gone for the rest of our earthly lives.
Certainly getting fired from your job is a plot twist. So is walking in the hallway outside a room, past a conversation about you, and overhearing how much you are disliked and disrespected by people who mean something to you. Finding out the worst possible case about the lump you had been feeling. And suspecting. Being periodically shaken to the absolute core seems to be included with our birth certificate.
What was your most recent plot twist?
Finding Our Anchor
I was in the room with Father Moon when he told us that what distinguishes a person who prays, from one who does not pray, is that a person who prays will not be completely derailed by sudden unfortunate events.
Prayer is a major help, but the world can quickly get very, very gnarly, and that’s why we also have to take care of each other. Not just “how you doin’? fine” when actually your leg is nearly severed and hanging by a single, glistening, wet sinew.
I have to practice listening. I have to think about what I am doing, and how my vapor trail affects another as we move in and out of each other’s spaces. I have to think about my closeness or farness from God. The anthropomorphic God I attempt to comfort, but who is much better at comforting me. Be “mindful” all the time, the bodhisattva counsels. “What would Jesus do?” the Reverend Bellwether shouts from the pulpit. “Okay if I have some of your food?” the smelly guy in the food court asks.
Plot twists often come in the form of opportunities to improve your karma. Plot twists happen, to paraphrase the famous bumper sticker, and you will encounter them forever and ever amen. What will anchor you for the plot twists eternally to come?
Write to Larry Moffitt at SanViejo@gmail.com