Dropping Shoes

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“Western man has tried for too many centuries to fool himself that he lives in a rational world. No. There’s a story about a man who, while walking along the street, was almost hit on the head and killed by an enormous falling beam. This was his moment of realization that he did not live in a rational world but a world in which men’s lives can be cut off by a random blow on the head, and the discovery shook him so deeply that he was impelled to leave his wife and children, who were the major part of his old, rational world. My own response to the wild unpredictability of the universe has been to write stories, to play the piano, to read, listen to music, look at paintings—not that the world may become explainable and reasonable but that I may rejoice in the freedom which unaccountability gives us.” ― Madeleine L’Engle

The headaches are back. They’re not the “bad” kind, so I guess they’re simply the “new” kind. Either way, a giant debilitating pause button has surfaced, and after far too much research and straw grasping, I’ve decided they are best classified as migraines.

Now I’ve always touted the fact that I never got migraines, and I even specifically mentioned it in my book. It seemed more than fair that after all the brain-based obstacles and excruciating pressure pain endured from the complications associated with hydrocephalus that I would be spared any additional suffering once those symptoms retreated. But that’s just not how life works.

We can plan and plot and cross our fingers that once we emerge from the flames, the fire can’t catch us. But whatever is burning behind is also burning ahead. Living is navigating, and no amount of precaution can halt the birth of unforeseeable variables. Duck and weave. Jump and slide.

There is no crystal ball, and no chance for a second take. The cards slid from the dealer are the result of universal randomness and haphazard order. We can play or fold, but the odds won’t transform with a fresh deck.

So instead of analyzing all the ways we might lose if the fates decide it’s not our day to soak in the sunshine, let’s just pull up a seat and roll the dice.

Adolescence Interrupted

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Lost Ones

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“Life seems sometimes like nothing more than a series of losses, from beginning to end. That’s the given. How you respond to those losses, what you make of what’s left, that’s the part you have to make up as you go.”  -Katharine Weber

The impossible unpredictability of our daily existence is enough to rattle the most grounded of souls. Add to that the utter lack of control we wield over the trajectory of our loved ones, and we become nothing more than walking/talking test tubes trapped in a centrifuge, forced to endure a dizzying dance of expectations, invocations, and crossed fingers.

Yet we are told that hardship and grief define character, that we must embrace the dark days to appreciate the sunrises. Nothing worth its salt is easily procured. A silver lining sits on the back of every storm cloud.

But I don’t think I’m capable of swallowing the force-fed doses of wishful thinking.

There is a chasm left when people leave and a heaping helping of affirmative visualization or positive manifestation can’t change the fact that we are all sprinting on hamster wheels built with a finite number of rotations.

My mother and I both lost a parent when we were 25. We recently talked about this odd shared life experience, and I realized that the finality of some moments never fully vacate the consciousness. Her loss was far more devastating than mine, but seeing how emotionally affected someone could be more than forty years after an incident was proof that no amount of elaborate window dressing can hide the fact that your store is sometimes empty.

The moments missed and the absent days are tough pills to swallow. We all have clocks that are counting backward, and perhaps death and loss are the brightest beacons of that reality.

So until Kurzweil cracks the code to give us a little breathing room, we’re stuck in this particular place and time. I suppose we should try to make the most of it.

Adolescence Interrupted