Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Something and Nothing

There’s an old Jewish saying- IT’S ALWAYS SOMETHING.

(The English version is more like ‘if it’s not one thing, it’s another.’)

I remember the hot water heater bursting many years ago when I lived in a rented apartment. I was supposed to fly to New York for a funeral the next day, and the landlord was too busy to deal with it right then. I remember thinking that I’m glad it didn’t happen when I was away and the damage from the water would have been substantial. But then, it would have been better if it didn’t happen, period.

And then I thought of this^ saying.

I thought of it again when a writer friend, now jobless (she did have a day-job, as most do) and newly out of unemployment benefits, had her water heater burst. Now what.

I thought about it last summer when the third of our semi-antique vehicles became dysfunctional, just as my kid needed to be taken to the doctor. We had three non-working cars and one sick kid. What next.

I thought of it when my editor (an otherwise fantastic professional to work with) had a new brainstorm, which required a whole re-write, only days after an Email telling me we are good to go and heading to line-editing. Tell me about it.


But then I thought- what’s the alternative? NOTHING.

This is not to disparage those calm periods where everything is ticking along smoothly. Those halcyon days gliding on gently, where the silent pulse of time ticks without murmur. Those are the breaks, allowing batteries to re-charge.

To be honest, I am barely alive during the calm. If I am, I must confess I don’t remember it well. In life, like in stories, it’s the punctuation, the breaks, the cracks and the explosions that make the stories. There has to be SOMETHING.

Ah, blessed Something.

And as I’m counting, I wish blessings to come in gingerly. Unlike fiction, where the ‘one-two-three-CLIMAX’ is a convention of story telling, I wish the Somethings will space themselves. More like a fender-bender, not a pile-up on the highway. In my less Zen moments, I wish for more Nothing and less Something.

I wish you plenty of Nothing, bits of Something, and a good working car.


  1. "I wish you plenty of Nothing, bits of Something, and a good working car."

    I need to come back here and reread this post at least once a week!

    1. Plenty of nothing, bits of something = Sounds great...

  2. Beautifully and poignantly written. The last sentence made me chuckle.

    I found you through Out on a Limb.
    Catherine Denton

  3. Those are good wishes, Mirka. It's those Somethings that have shaped me, but I confess, I love the Nothings ... it will be nice when my dryer stops squeaking. I am thankful my husband has not taken it apart. Hee hee.

  4. Lovely post! I know exactly what you mean about how those Nothing periods, while so welcome, can get a bit quiet. We all need Something... just not too much of it all at once!

  5. As a life-long 'drive them till they're dead' girl, I appreciate the final sentiment. My driveway is home to a '94, '96, and '98 model of various vehicles. The oldest works the best. The newest is at the shop.

    Here's to nothing.

  6. Somethings and nothings, we always want whichever one it is we don't have. I'm reminded of this when I visit my mother at the end of a hectic day. She envies my business and I envy her quiet life. But it's a good reminder to enjoy where we're at RIGHT NOW, because things will change, eventually.

  7. Mirka, in my Zen moments, I wish for Nothing to receive Something stirring in my insides. (Something good and warm, like a stream, I hope.) Thank you for your wish for us!

    Also, I'd like to thank you for your comment and wish of luck on My Clearest Me over at Anne's blog. It is very much appreciated!

  8. A very thoughtful post, Mirka, as usual. I have a wonderful book by my bedside entitled YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE BUDDHIST TO KNOW NOTHING: an illustrious collection of thoughts on naught. Somehow I think you'd like it..

  9. We've had very similar weeks, I see.

    Things could generally always be much worse than they are. Which sounds cynical, but after a good dose of reality, you begin to see that more and more. Maybe life obliges us with trials to remind us not to take too much for granted.

  10. When someone says "It's always something," I tend to think, "Thank goodness that most of the time these "somethings" are spread out a little. What if we had a long, blissful "nothing" and then ALL the somethings hit?

    Ah, cars. We have two: a '97 and a '98.