“Never deny the existence of Gremlins!”
That was the advice of my friend, Gordon, who proceeded to tell me of some personal experience on the nuclear sub he served on for some years.
“There was a chief engineer who initially would loudly proclaim that there was no such thing as gremlins, only to have something go wrong within moment after uttering such a statement,” Gordon told me. “He learned to keep his mouth shut.”
I mention this in the wake of the string of mechanical mishaps that has accompanied us on the first three months of our tour. It began with a fuel leak on the auxiliary generator of our RV, followed by a battery problem on our tow vehicle. There was the spark plug that worked loose from the engine while driving through Iowa, shooting out the iginition coil along the way, followed by a flat tire on the RV in Indiana. There was another loose spark plug while in New Jersey (although at least this time the mechanic that took care of us took the time and trouble to check all the plugs and make sure they were well and truly tight and secure), and most recently the guy who drove into the back of our poor tow car (our “yellow submarine”), demolishing our towing rig along the way. In between, there has also been a problem with one of the levelling jacks on the RV, in that it takes a good 30-45 minutes to retract, and there has been an intermittent issue with the RV’s water heater, where we can occasionally smell a stray whiff of propane.
Pony ordered some smudge sticks. The RV is in a service center even now (taking care of some of the effects of the recent crash, as well as addressing a few other stray issues). The plan, sometime shortly after Thanksgiving, is to have a cleansing ceremony and a christening. There is a reason that my sweetie has endured more than her share of sleepless nights of late, and we hope to at least invite some peace of mind by engaging in this spiritual exercise.
One might ask why I don’t have more sleepless nights, myself. I have had a few, here and there. But, to be honest, I feel that letting worry consume me will not improve our circumstances any. It certainly won’t help me when I need to get on stage and give my best. I know I have mentioned something about this before, but I think about the musician, Steve Goodman. Goodman had leukemia from the time he was a teenager, and although it would occasionally go into remission, it ultimately claimed his life. Steve Goodman had a more acute sense than most of us of how fragile and uncertain life can be. My buddy, Ernie Martinez saw him in concert, and said to watch Steve Goodman perform was a truly wondrous thing, since he treated every concert as if it could be his last. I have tried to learn something from that, even if I don’t feel death hanging quite so close over my shoulder. I don’t want to take any moment for granted.
There is an old zen Buddhist story about a monk walking along a mountain path. Around a bend in the path, he sees a tiger in front of him and, startled, he slips off the path to fall a bit down the mountain slope, managing to grab a strawberry bush as he fell. As he holds onto that branch, he sees another tiger waiting below him. A tiger above, a tiger below, and the bush starting to lose its hold on the soil. He sees one strawberry on the bush; not the best berry in the world, but as he plucks it and pops it in his mouth, it tastes delicious! I think about that story.