Friday, February 26, 2010

Spare Change from the Universe

The difference between getting hit with bad news while you're alone--say a letter or an email, or a rejection slip on something you thought to be a shoo-in--and being hit with the news while in company is profound. In the former, you're plunged immediately into the self-pity of "What am I going to do now?" which, although it sounds a hundred years or so away from and more modern than "Oh, woe is me!" is still about the same thing. In the latter, you're more likely to careen right past that operatic response and be thinking about recovery strategy, as in, "Now what?" as in "Now what will I do?" And if you've been hit with unsettling news before, chances are, even while you're absorbing the implications, you're answering your own question, forming a plan.


Interestingly enough, if the person or persons with whom you are interacting when the news comes your way are at all in on or aware of the blow that has taken you captive, your very response, your recovery plan, emerges as an unintended inspiration to them. Thus you have not only absorbed and reeled with disappointment from the news, you have in your Plan B provided a gift to someone.

There have been ever so many near misses in your life that you begin now to wonder openly about contriving some story about near-misses, almost-made connections where the payoff, the conclusion of the story evokes the awareness that such enterprises--for they are products in some way of your enterprising behavior, even if that behavior is the mere printing out of story, the addressing of a few envelopes, and the application of a few stamps. Disappointment translates to mean the Universe does not particularly buy into your plans; it is a rejection slip from the Cosmos, a magazine you'd been interested in having your story appear. Disappointment is being politely uninvited from a casting call or a search of some sort. The eternal optimist regards disappointment as merely having all your options open whereas you don;t want all your options open. You do not wish, for instance, for your options to have a newspaper delivery route kept open, nor do you wish for a job, your aggregate people skills to the contrary notwithstanding, in sales, thus for you options relate mostly to story of some sort or showing individuals how to cope with story of some sort.

Near misses and, for that matter, abject failures are signs that you have reached across the cosmic chasm. You may not be able to live off of such ventures but you are able to live on them because they are all steps out of the primordial sea of non-action and un-growth; you cannot position yourself to be able to live off things you enjoy doing without having in place the muscle memory of past reaching out.

Nor is it that you are looking for likely locales to position yourself whence you may ask the universe if it can spare any change. You are not interested in spare change. At the moment you are interested in finishing a novel, getting at a bunch of short stories, and trying to familiarize yourself with all twenty-seven of Mozart's piano concerti. You are also interested in about six books by or about Chaucer on the rear of the front display at Chaucer's Book Store in the Loreto Plaza in mid-town Santa Barbara. This is scarcely spare change.

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