One minute. That’s all it took. After ten years of careful management, control, and care, it only took one minute to completely destroy my life. It’s not like I didn’t expect it. Ever since the thing that I saw by the swings when I was ten years old – the thing that I swore I would never tell anyone — I have been waiting for the other shoe to drop. It was inevitable. What goes around comes around. It was only a matter of time. Yes, these are cliche’s, but have you ever noticed how much the world runs like a cliche’? Call it what you want. I have always known that the other show would drop. But I didn’t expect it to RAIN shoes. I didn’t expect this. Not even close.
It was a gorgeous, clear blue sky day. As if the sky was lulling me into a sense of complacency and my worrying mind was distracted from its job. Because if I had been worrying, it wouldn’t have happened. Sound silly? Maybe, but I know it to be true. I know it as certain as I am standing here.
Magical thinking. A bad thing? Not always. We tend to imbue some words with emotions and feelings, and the word “magical” is one of those words. The word “magic” gives us feelings of hope and possibility and “just tap those ruby slippers”. Rational thinking is the enemy of magic. Rational thinking stifles the imagination and creativity. Magical thinking takes you to hope and to possibility… That is what is sounds like it should do, but it doesn’t. Ironic? Yes.
Why is magical thinking a bad thing? According to my doctor, it is because I start making cause-and-effect connections that aren’t real. Like, if I am as conscientious as possible with regards to my personal environment, then I will be safe from dying of a deadly disease or worse, causing someone else to die of a deadly disease. My doctor says this isn’t how the world works, and I would feel better if I could accept that, but I disagree. I choose to believe in my magical thinking because otherwise what is there to hold on to?
You see, I have this fear. It is my biggest fear. For most people, their biggest fear is death. My biggest fear is causing the death of someone else. Sounds like it would be an easy fear to have, right? Just don’t go out and kill anyone. Simple. Done. But people inadvertently cause the death of others all the time. I knew a boy in high school who brought his dad’s gun to school for show and tell. He thought it wasn’t loaded, so he pointed it at a girl and “pretend” pulled the trigger. He killed her. And then there was that head-on collision last winter between two cars on 68th street. A sixteen year old driver lost control and hit another car head on. She hit a mother driving her four year old son home from school. He died. I’m betting that the girl and the mom wish they had died. How do you go on living after something like that? And then just last week, there was a young woman who killed three children crossing the road to their school bus. It wasn’t because she disregarded the buses stop signals, it was because she was on an unfamiliar road, coming around a blind curve, and by the time she saw the bus it was too late to stop. Plenty of blame to go around in hindsight, but in the moments, just some judgment error, maybe a moment of inattention, or not focused enough. Everyone does these things. It could have been me.
Lack of vigilance can get people killed. I learned that the hard way. And I am grateful for every day that I have had to make up for the bad thing that happened. The thing that could have been a much, much worse thing. The time I lost focus and almost —- I can’t go there, because if I do the sweat will start and then the spinning and pretty soon I won’t be able to function at all. I need to be alert, look forward, lock up everything tight so that I know I am safe. Safe from the blackness of guilt. I thought I was doing good. I thought I was doing what I needed to do so the bad thing could never happen again. But then came the beautiful, blue-skied day. I should have known. I should have seen it for what it was — the shoe about to drop.