Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I Take The Good, I Take The Bad

Is it a pleasure to drop a cup on the floor and see it shatter? Not really.

There's all the trouble it is to clean it up, for one. Usually you have something else to do, other plans, and it's a nuisance to have to do this other thing. But it has to be done, if not now then later. And it may as well be now -- it's usually better, because someone might come in and get cut, maybe you'll get cut, one of the animals might get hurt, and there are other reasons.

It's usually a minor thing, but a cup is still a cup. And you have it around the house for drinking out of. For it to be a cup, then to be shattered, is not a good turn of events.

You can think of it being a cup while it's in your hand. Then -- fumble, fumble -- there it goes, maintaining its cup integrity an inch from your hand, silent in the air, head over heels through the air, at every step of the way it's still a cup. It's only when it hits the floor that its days of being a cup come to an end. You could picture it in one of those slow motion, high def films, the meeting of cup to floor. Then seeing whatever the physics of the thing is as the floor refuses to yield and the cup has no choice but to absorb the force and react, its various facets, by going various directions.

At that point there's a lot that's predictable and a lot that's not. But I want to keep this simple enough for me to say it. What's predictable is that it will break. What is not predictable are all those things that are at the micro level, how the pieces will scatter precisely, etc. That's beyond my concern. Just the fact that it breaks is the headache I'm dealing with.

I love it, this part, that our minds are fast enough to try to intervene. Somehow your consciousness knows to stick a toe out as quickly as possible to cushion it. You've made several deft calculations without much aforethought. If the teacher wanted to "see your work," that'd look good on the film, too, the calculations you made as to direction, predicting the path, the kind of cushion that would be best. When I'm catching stuff with my feet on a second's notice, it lets me know ... maybe I'm not so dumb after all.

Anyway, do we like it when a cup takes a tumble and falls to the floor? No, of course not.

But there's a part of me that says we do like it. That it highlights life's dependability and makes us feel better to see it remain regular. Because if I drop something on purpose, I want it to fall in a predictable way. And if the cup somehow doesn't hit the floor -- barring the intervention of my toe -- how could I depend on anything?

So, it's good to take the good and the bad with equanimity. Because the bad is actually just more of the good. Including all kinds of things, getting cancer, to give an obviously bad diagnosis. It is that it is. And maybe I'll hate it (I would definitely hate it ... maybe), but that's life. There's an scratch for every itch. But the itch has its place too.

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