The latest New Yorker has an article about a man whose face got burned off in an accident and eventually got a face transplant. I felt sick and scared and fascinated all at once, and immediately set to imagining myself in a wrong-end-of-a-powerline scenario having to have my features removed one by one in surgery in order to preserve what was left alive of my flesh. Would I be brave and stoic, hailed for my courage? Become embittered, angry? Depressed and never leave the house? What if my sense of taste was harmed and I couldn't even count on drowning my sorrows with E.L. Fudges?
Why do I read this disturbing stuff? And what does this have to do with the good, happy, positive life I supposedly write about here on the old electric rectangle?
Maybe just, a thing about trust. I am good at bracing for the worst, picking at scabs, waiting for the other shoe to drop, preparing let's-stick-this-out-together inspirational speeches that go undelivered. Redbeard points out a new TV show called Doomsday Preppers - people stockpiling for all sorts of apocolypses, a diverse array of worst-case scenarios. Bracing for the worst somehow makes it easier to entertain the thought. Helps you tolerate the fear.
Take these never-ending, godforsaken grad school applications. I finally screwed my courage to the sticking place enough to send in the one to the school that I care about. It's so easy to brace for rejection and disappointment, prepare for inevitable waste-laying to my dreams, plan your escape route for the zombie invasions. I'm all about motivational speeches and not giving up and hard knocks and what a loser Abe Lincoln was for so long. I'm comfortable in comeback mode, scrappy, scrambling for a foothold.
Much harder to actually admit that I want something, that I hope for something, that I want something, because that is risking disappointment. A scarier question is, what if everything goes right? At least if I plan for disappointment I will have already arranged my face to make it appear that I don't care.
Anyway, about trust. How can I trust fate, the universe, a higher power, destiny, whatever, when it so frequently deals out such bullshit to people? Like, really? This lady took too many sleeping pills on purpose and then while passed out her Labrador mauled her face? And wasn't there a face-mauling exacted by a pet monkey, too? And wasn't it not even the woman's pet monkey, wasn't it like her friend's monkey? Is a universe to be trusted that would allow this kind of thing?
I'm sorry, I'm all over the place tonight, I'm looking for a thread here. Maybe something to do with the question of whether there is something bigger and better and more vast than monkeys and faces and fear of the future.
Here: in lieu of neat, coherent wrap-up conclusion I will leave you with a picture of birds I saw on my walk back from yoga on a spring-like day in winter:
Can you see them on the branches? They were loud, then quiet when I passed.