Authorities revealed Tuesday that a man carrying a loaded shotgun was arrested in January near the U.S. Capitol, and explosives left in his truck nearby went undetected for three weeks.
–CNN/AP, 26 March 2008
If we all comprehended all that goes into the decisions that impact our lives, we might never be able to sit still again. Let alone sleep. Two people are anticipating such a decision that I’m supposed to be making… it’s entirely out of their hands. It’s one of those many seeming coinflip decisions we make in life. Eventually I’ll find a way to make it a rationally reasoned decision, but I wouldn’t count on others to do the same in my shoes. This one’s for a job as I end a less than 2-month stint of not being a supervisor anymore. How many college admissions decisions, or college matriculation decisions, or moves, or debate judgments, or responses to date requests, came down to the same kind of coinflip? And who here would say they haven’t been deeply affected by one of those kinds of decisions?
I try to remember everything.
Try to remember so you don’t disappear.
-Counting Crows, “Sundays”
Maybe life’s not so hard to predict. We all have free will, but we all tend to make these ridiculously logical decisions. Maybe that’s the only reason that the coinflips feel so dangerous or scary. It’s where our free will really has to ride a gut feeling, or take a chance, or do something out of the comfort zone. Maybe where it lets itself be influenced by some larger benevolent wave. My Dad might call it “mind at large”. Others would go with destiny or fate. Everyone above would agree God’s gotta have something to do with it. Just about. But who has the faith that their contributed portion of the cacophony of wills is always allocated to benevolence? And wouldn’t resting on that faith somehow violate the bargain and undo the magic? Magic. Maybe that’s another word for it.
This is a list of what I should’ve been, but I’m not.
-Counting Crows, “Cowboys”
I used to make tapes, back in late high school and throughout college. I clung to a dying technological medium in large part because I liked the rhythms of 60- and 90-minute intervals, and especially loved having two opposing sides of something. No one was really ever able to record their own vinyl records, and CD’s don’t have sides. The tape was the perfect homemade medium. I made two tapes that come to mind this week… “Poetry in Stagnation” and “Chaos Theory”. The last of these had sides called “Butterfly Wings” and “Consequences” and was probably my most artistically made mix. The latest Counting Crows album, “Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings”, is clearly written with sides in mind. It’s a bit of a concept album with each half of that phrase parsed into its own side. The CD cover is a vinyl album, just in case we missed the point. Like all new albums (these days at least), it sounds godawful the first time one listens to it. The second time through, I’m not sure I’ve heard anything more relevant in my life. Nothing will ever measure up to “This Desert Life”, the album that started my traditions with Counting Crows releases, perhaps the only album that sounded perfect the first time through too. I’ve always felt a special kinship with Adam Duritz (really, what CC fan doesn’t?), but you can hear in this one that maybe it’s gone too far. Maybe he pushed his own opportunities too long and wonders how much of this ends up being his own doing. There comes a time when it’s time to stop blaming the cacophony of wills and start examining one’s own coinflips.
It’s okay, I’m angry,
but you’ll never understand…
And I can’t see why you want to talk to me
when your vision of America is crystalline and clean.
-Counting Crows, “When I Dream of Michelangelo”
Despite all the coinflips, the cacophony, the difficult decisions, there often come times when one can attune oneself to the universe (God, mind at large, fate, destiny, magic) sufficiently where such things no longer seem scary. One still has to play by the rules, to agonize and try. To make the best decision possible for the best reasons possible. As Brandzy would say, to do the right thing for the right reasons. But this attunement, this awareness, this getting in sync seems to take the edge off the decisions. It takes the really vicious teeth out, leaving them more smile and less bared fangs. Some mornings, maybe even a morning like this, it’s not enough for reassurance. Is that the Cheshire cat I’m seeing? What does finding your place look like?
Would you eat a Honduran melon without fear of salmonella contamination?
-CNN’s QuickVote poll for 26 March 2008
Walking out the door to go to Chipotle, checking the mail on the way, and getting a certificate for free tacos therein. The unending awareness that terrorism would be unstoppable and is thus, by its absence, demonstrated to be nonexistent. A friend’s ability to achieve what one has always wanted, while one is doing what said friend is most interested in for his own achievement. Full moons and eclipses. Butterflies flapping their wings. Earthquakes. Timing timing timing.
Life makes its own excitement.