The little girls rolled on the floor with laughter.
The younger one at least, was lying on the carpeted living room floor convulsed with laughter as her grandpa attempted to play his new French horn. It was her first experience hearing the odd instrument. She and her sister were having problems with the similarity in sound to a bodily function which I shall not describe here.
The reader may be able to draw his or her own conclusion upon further consideration.
I’d rather they didn’t.
In short, I am the owner of the French horn. I am also the person who expelled the sounds in question from the bell of said horn. It was not one of my proudest moments.
There is a description of the horn which is trotted out periodically. It usually gets a laugh at the expense of the one who manipulates it.
An ill wind that nobody blows good.
I want that not to be true. I have spent a lifetime in an attempt to dispel the rumor. Alas, at times each of us who picks up the wayward instrument would have to agree.
An ill wind.
The mind goes wandering.
An ill wind–somehow, I see the red-headed lady who raised me when I think of the words. It was one of her phrases–one of hundreds.
It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good.
She explained the meaning to her offspring by reminding them that often, bad things which happen to some people help others. I’m sure she gave examples. I don’t remember what they were.
She called it the gulf breeze. To her, in a land where the temperature was eternally sweltering, the wind blowing off of the Gulf of Mexico, some sixty miles away, was a Godsend. The sun heated the earth faster than it did the water of the Gulf and the resulting inequity in pressure caused the wind to blow off of the water and into the Rio Grande Valley. Constantly.
I hated it.
I spent my childhood riding my bicycle in a northerly or southerly direction just to avoid it. To ride east meant that you fought the wind. Fifteen to twenty miles per hour it blew. All day. Every day. At least, that is what I remember.
An ill wind, I thought.
To the red-headed lady, salvation from the torture of the unbearable heat. To this young man, a hardship that would never end.
An ill wind. That blew good to my mother.
I will admit that I think of that gulf breeze with a different attitude these days. Oh, I still wouldn’t want to ride against it for very far, but when I remember it, I smile.
Why would I not?
It pleased my mother.
The mind wanders again, and I think about how I make a living. Frequently, I buy used musical instruments from individuals to sell in my store. It has supported my habit of eating and sleeping in a bed with a roof over my head for some thirty years.
One might ask how that could be a problem. Perhaps one example will suffice.
A young lady carried in a saxophone case one day recently. Her children followed, each carrying another saxophone, except for one of them who had a case in each hand. Five saxophones in all. Different sizes–alto, tenor, baritone, and soprano. There was even a melody sax in the key of C.
An ill wind was blowing on this young lady’s family. Not only financial want, but the death of her father in recent months, had left them casting about for an answer.
I examined the instruments as she talked about the old man. My examination was professional and unemotional. Not so, her monologue. She was distraught, bereft of her father and her children’s grandfather. Soon, she would be bereft of his beloved horns.
It was all she could do. When the ill wind blows, it is futile to attempt to withstand it.
I made her a fair offer; she accepted it and left with tears still in her eyes.
I have profited.
From the ill wind.
The thought gives pause.
I understand the balance which exists. Mortuaries profit because of the death of our loved ones. Nurses and doctors are able to pay their bills because we become ill. Florists thrive because hapless husbands will never understand their wives.
I understand. Still, I struggle.
Around me, friends are suffering. Parents have died, or are grappling with the weight of old age and the loss of independence. Just tonight, a friend shared the sad news that his daughter-in-law passed away today, leaving behind an infant and my friend’s son. They are sad and confused, wondering what the future holds.
Do you know what it’s like to feel guilty because things are going well? I look at my friends in their struggles and I tell you, I do.
At these times, it feels wrong to rejoice in the good fortune I am experiencing, while I know others are in the grasp of sadness and pain, and yes, even anger. But, I’m doing just fine.
And, that makes me feel bad.
I’m not sure that there is a really good answer. Well, not one which completely satisfies what I want to know, anyway. But I am, finally, rejoicing with my mother over her gulf breeze. The time comes when we learn to walk in the shoes of the ones on the other side of the wind.
We rejoice as our friends rejoice. Our tears flow when theirs do. The two may occur within moments of each other. To participate in both is not to live a lie, but to feel empathy and love. Our Savior did the same.
The ill wind is blowing, but some also benefit.
One ship attempts, unsuccessfully, to sail into the storm and leave port. Another, battered and beaten by months on the sea, makes its way into the haven, aided by the gale.
The same wind blows. Ill and good.
I will weep with my friends, as I rejoice at the blessings of a beneficent God.
The day will come when they will do the same with me.
We live. We learn to walk with each other.
The wind keeps blowing.
To perceive is to suffer.
(Aristotle ~ Greek philosopher ~ 384 BC-322 BC)
Rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep.
(Romans 12:15 ~ ESV)
© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved.