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Wednesday, August 17, 2022

"...her face is a map of the world..."

The title comes from the song "Suddenly I See" by K.T. Tunstall.  You can find the full song lyrics HERE.  In the aftermath of last week's medical stuff (see THIS posting) I'm left thinking about some of the bigger things in life.  That's where the song lyric comes in:  It's this idea that somehow you can see in someone's very face the life that they have lived, the world they have been in (or, in some cases survived).  When I think about the life I've lived and the world I have been in, well, at times it's not always a pleasant sight.  Kind of just like my face.

Now I'll say right off the bat that I am far, far luckier than many.  Heck, I am only here by the graces of modern (well, at least late 1960s modern) medical technology, courtesy of a removed but-formerly-ruptured appendix when I was about 5 years old.  Lessor versions with that same story theme have played out over the years, and there have been a few occasions over the recent past as well.  There have also been plenty of occasions where, rather than somehow being able to celebrate the fact that I, unlike some others, didn't fall prey to some terrible thing, I've been left with a kind of pit-in-the-stomach form of survivor's guilt.  It's as if there is this thing inside of me that refuses to accept the positive side of just about anything.  

I am, according to some learned folks, hard-wired for adversity.  My mental machinery is designed to seek out and survive all that the world throws at me.  I am in a perpetual state of looking for threats and preparing for the worst.  Is this a good thing?  I don't know.  When I think though about what happens after literally decades of having that kind of constant tension in my life, I'm left wondering if there is a kind of physical toll to it all, a kin to a rubber band that has been stretched too far for too long.  Time, as they say, will tell.

Where does all this lead?  I don't really know.  What I do know is that I've been thinking a lot lately about the costs of survival.  I'm also wondering what more I need to do in order to get off the built-for-survival train that has carried me throughout these past 5 or so decades.  At some point, I should run out of threats, real or imaginary.  Then, in what could best be described as an adult-sized portion of irony, perhaps the final threat to me is the toll that decades of stress, anxiety, and surviving have taken.  Yes, the final threat may very well be me.

Finally, I know in my very gut that all of us, me included, are always capable of changing, learning, and growing.  I also know that part of the drive I describe above has helped me do some good things in my life as well.  Like most tools though, the trick is to use it as intended.  After all, you can use a $150 DeWalt drill to bang a nail into a wall (and break it in the process) or you can use a $20 hammer for that same purpose.  Life, it seems, always comes down to some kind of choice.

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