Nine, ten, eleven. Ever have an idea about something, think you were going to do a particular thing, and it just doesn’t happen? No catastrophe, no major malfunction. It’s just that the dot you think you are going to connect with next, the dot you can see and think is right there…..is number 35 and not number 4.
The connect the dot drawings of our lives aren’t simplistic. Even the most simple life isn’t a linear array. But it is the switchbacks and repetitive returns to a single touchstone that can make for the best detail of a life.
My hope in the month of May was to post each day and write about the number of that day. Saturday the 7th, where I thought I was headed just ended up being a wrong turn. Have you ever gotten off the interstate one exit too early and believed you know how to get through the neighborhood streets? Then you discover you are screwed and in an abandoned industrial section of town and it is 11 pm at night. That’s what happened Saturday. I had to post Sunday because…well…Sunday was mother’s day. And if keeping with the spirits of Hallmark and Valentine’s, it’s an auto response day. Like these…
- How are you doing? = Fine, and you? [Said even when you have a meat clever hacked into your back.]
- Do you need any help? = No, I got it.
- I love you. = I love you, too.
- What do you want for dinner? = I don’t know, what do you want?
- Do I look fat? = You always look great to me, dear.
Niceties and platitudes allow civil existence. Giving and receiving the bare bones truth 100% of the time is a state of existence most human brains avoid. Tell me I am pretty. Tell me you love me. Tell me you like my cooking even when it is burned, smells faintly of moth balls and looks like pan seared lizard tails. Is reality so abusive and brutal that we have to lie about the tiny things?Yes. But, I don’t want to eat pan seared lizard tails in a naphthalene reduction….so save me from myself. And tell me the truth. The truth doesn’t need to be delivered in a TKO Holyfield blow. The truth, spoken softly and kindly actually heals. We all get exhausted by the charade.
It is the small thing that break us. We can weather the hurricane. We can deal with the car accident that totals the car and sends someone to the intensive care unit. We can deal with the Mississippi Delta flooding the 1,000 acre farm land that is planted with Silver Queen corn meant to harvest in July. We can deal with the diagnosis of cancer. It’s the straw that finally breaks us, the pin prick, the downy feather. And maybe that is why we demand the tiny lies. Lie to me about the little things, make it pretty and happy. Let me have my pretend. Let me have my fake moment, my childish and juvenile moment…..Please don’t tell me the brutal truth. Can’t I have just a little bit of sugar to make the medicine go down?
Otherwise, when you ask me a question, permit me the freedom to actually say, “You want to know how my day was? My day sucked.” 99% of the time, when you ask, I will say the expected thing, “Fine.” But on that 1% event I give you the truth, don’t let your eyes glaze over or let me see you sigh. Seriously, this is a rarity. If people cannot muster enough empathy for truthiness 1% of the time, our society and intimacy are in mortal danger. Instead, can we lie on our tummies, coloring with our crayons eating candy while I tell you what a clusterfck of a day I had? In short order and with the help of candy and companionship…..the crap filled day will fade away.