Friday, October 7, 2016

Down There in the Pit

The doo-doo was over due to be done. The business in the tank was getting urgent. That's when I booked a date with the Honey Wagon to meet me on top of the pile that is Mount Lemmon, where I and some others have been neglecting the septic tank.

"How long has it been since your last service?" the kindly dispatcher asked me when I called about scheduling.

"Ummmm, about twenty years, maybe more," I answered, digging into the recesses of memory. "My sons were about ... two... " Way too much dawdling and unnecessary information for her, I realized. "So, that would be about twenty fooour years."

An audible sigh on her end.

"And how big is your tank?"

"My brother-in-law says it is a hundred gallons."

"Are you sure?"

"No, but I think that's it," I said."You need to know that the road is pretty bad -- steep and rutted and there is a washed-out bridge," I went on.


"We can be there tomorrow. Otherwise it will be about a week before we go back up the mountain," She said.

I was thinking about the other sewage in my life. I was procrastinating on a book, avoiding exercise, being a jerk to dear friends, trying not to think about my dad going into hospice, seeing only the weaker self-defeating parts of my nature. Living with me sometimes is a nasty business. Ugh. Why does all this have to come up now?

"I'll see you there," trying to chirp, and failing.

"The driver will call you when he gets close."

So I go up to the cabin, up the winding mountain road, in my old truck, no radio, no tape player, or any other form of distraction. Just me and my thoughts.

Yikes! I thought. I am spinning and dead-ended even though the surface of my life looks like lottery winnings. The depth of my despair at nothing was a creepy poison under my skin. Such is the strange world of depression. My inner landscape is a churning skein of serpents sometimes. I want out, want distraction, anything other than the here and now. Dealing with doo-doo isn't fun.

But it is necessary. Sometimes, one has to really look at the way things are, especially the crappy stuff. I hate to say it, but, for me, it's the way through it to the other side, the place where magic can happen. 

The trees were turning their yellows, reds, and browns of October, my favorite of favorite months. Why was I so unhappy?

I get to the cabin. The cover for the septic needs uncovering. I change into my work clothes, grab a shovel, and get to work.I haven't done hard manual labor for a while and my elbows ached at the shocks of the shovel when it hit the rocks covering the tank. The going was slow and hard, but I am tenacious. The demons are right there with me. "Call about your dad. Your son is in crisis. Do something. You are not so good, in spite of what you say." My body wants to fall into the pit and just stay there, get covered up after the tank is pumped.

My reverie is interrupted by the septic guys who call. I go up to meet them at the gate.

After looking at the road, they say they can't do the job. The road is too steep, washed out, and the bridge too dangerous to drive a heavy tanker truck across. This is not going to be an easy or quick job. Like many things in life, this one is going to take some time, some effort, some attention, money.We pull back the concrete covers over the tank to see what we are up against.

"This tank is in bad shape... it's also much bigger than you thought. I'd say 500 - 1000 gallons. Not a hundred."

Why was I not surprised?

All the work to this point is a start, but not enough. I have a long ways to go. The prospect is daunting, but also a relief. Doing something might help pull me from the funk, this terrible stuck place I fall into once in a while. I have to keep moving, or the demons will win.

We take pictures and make a plan for how to get the tank pumped.

At least I see what some of the work is.

Time to get on the phone, make the call, listen for my dad's voice. Time to deal with the business left undone. Time to clean up the crap between friends, make amends. 

Sometimes you have to deal with the pit before you can enjoy the sweet breeze of October. 


  1. A tapestry emerges when various strands get woven together creating a whole greater than the parts. Nice job.

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