In the automotive repair industry, techs are accustomed to working on cars with check engine lights on. First time my check engine light came on, I suffered a silent panic. Surely the engine was about to blow. At the garage, I admired the tech’s calm sureness. Nothing was really wrong with Derby (aka Jack) afterall. The tech told me all he had to do was clear the code. The error code.
Whatever was wrong is over.
Ever since, I’ve been thinking about applying this to my life and my relationships. I want that sensation of “whatever was wrong is over”. I want to clear the code.
Surely we can each nod our heads and silently recall some issues in our lives where this would apply. I won’t go into detail. Keeping everything in our lives balanced and humming is tricky. Sometimes a person — let’s say that person is me — suffers from pitch drift (and thank you, Mike, for causing this term to come into my life). It’s not easy to get tuned and then maintain that balanced pitch. Life happens. I read, I write, I sleep. I take road trips instead of calling friends. I glance at my life in the sideview mirror and realize my pitch has somehow drifted.
After a bit, I get back to the business of tuning my strings again (and here, I suggest you consider me as a stringed instrument. Let’s say I am a viola.) Trouble happens when I get tuned too narrow
(and now I thank someone else for pointing out this phrase which I admit to openly lifting.) If I tune too wide, I end up with the messy math in music.
Having the ability to clear the code is my idea of a solution. I didn’t have a photo on my hard drive to use for this post. I was curious about what might happen if I googled for images of “clearing the code”.
What happens inside you when you consider the word clearing? This is what happened to Google. And what follows the etching is a draft of a poem I wrote when someone asked me this same question a few months ago.
There will be a clearing
which you won’t notice first.
Softer and deeper needles cover your trail.
Filtered in contrary light, ferns
in pine shadows grow only on this side
of the divide. Did you know
when you crossed over? Clearings
bespeak of cabins; you walk a wider circle
finding what you hadn’t known
was lost. Later, when you turn to leave
the sounds of your self will stay.
There, in a timber stand, ax in hand
you’ll exhale with each side stroke. Felling.
Fallen. Befellen. Across the way
she comes to you, a jar of cooled tea clinks
when she sets her bucket down.
You let the sun crest and slide, share
the gingered water, drowsing in that summer’s
heat. When you wake the shadows
will have shifted. The ax, the stripped
lodgepoles, sap from a ponderosa,
the bonnet and the ferns. Gone,
but for the feel of sun
having twice touched your skin.