How could I have ‘gotten over’ so much pain and hardship? Am I just apathetic or numbed out from it all? Or maybe… I’m winning. Maybe this is what winning really looks like. Perhaps the nagging sorrow that hangs around for so long after a relationship ends, a tragedy occurs or I just plain fucked up somehow is still here because I didn’t lose ‘properly‘.
The beauty of true dichotomy blooms from the fertilizer of emotional response to pain and pleasure.
In the late 90’s I worked for a construction outfit that would take on fire restoration jobs. This is dirty work in every sense one might think. Not only was it filthy physical labor but we saw a lot of shit. A lot of loss and tragedy in the midst of trying to land a job with a less-than upstanding adjuster that we would in turn draw up a less than upstanding contract with to get the work that would sustain us, sometimes pretty well, in the slower months. The holiday season is rough on construction companies unless you can pick up on this niche. People just love to burn their houses down around Thanksgiving and Christmas and if we’re real lucky there will be some storm damage or flooding too!
The moral-cleansing element here is that at-the-end-of-the-day we did fight for the people who had loss and although they never asked for it, we tried our best to give back something better than they had (provided they were properly covered by the policy). In the very worst cases there was loss of life, and yes, sometimes human life. I’ve been on “board-ups” where we were supervised by forensics guys and told not to ask questions, take pictures or discuss what we saw. If people were lucky in a fire situation; they got out with their loved ones, the one or two irreplaceable things they valued and the house burnt to the ground. I say that because like a totaled car; a complete replacement beats any repair. That unmistakable carbon smell of burnt framing is relentless and a hot summer day it will sneak back just enough to spark gruesome memories.
Building walls and tearing them down…
We stood back and saw that our creation had drastically altered the landscape and the whole environment we live in, we had buried our paths deep under water and restricted the natural flow to a trickle, justified by the work it took to build and the energy we harnessed by the back-pressure.
But the pressure became too great, it was dangerous, and the patchwork was becoming more laborious than the value of its product. People inhabited below the dam were on edge and were sure to lose everything if the dam suddenly failed without warning. No retaining wall or levy was going to hold the catastrophic flood from destroying everything. They started seeking safer ground.