contingency tagged posts

Dodging Bullets, Traffic, and the Fire This Time…

You are at a country music festival, the weekend’s final act.

It is late and you are feeling the love.

For the artists, the music, the atmosphere, those you came with, all those you didn’t come with but with whom you are now bound and bathed in a warm bubble of what will surely be a lifelong memory.

Then there are alien sounds, rhythmic but not musical—and not coming from the stage.

Then comes the chaos, the confusion, the sudden mad scramble and cowering amid bullets and falling bodies all around you, blood spattering your clothes (is it your own?), screams of fear, of anguish, and death for 58 people.

And for some reason, you are not among them.

You are alive.

***

You are driving down the three-lane highway with a childhood friend on a sunny afternoon, fast lane.

You need to get off, so you move toward the middle.

A driver in the slow lane has the same idea, same time.

You don’t notice, until you d...

Read More

Taking What Comes

So we make our plans, God and the fates rather quickly having their laugh at our folly while merrily shuffling the deck of our future.

Fifty-two possibilities from the get-go, eventually multiplied a million-fold by the cards still to be lain down in front of us, where they are joined by others in new configurations, or discarded by us, our volition exercised, in favor of yet more possibility.

But doesn’t every boy want to be a fireman when he grows up?

There are the genes, of course. Parents 5’1″ & 5’5”; you will not be playing center for the Lakers, no matter the compelling golden glow of those uniforms and your most fervent prayers.

The randomness of birth and its attendant geography, the weight of the land and the history of its people branding themselves upon you.

The Russians, the Spaniards, the Saudis, the Fijians and Turks.

The Swiss, the Italians, the Mexicans and Aussies.

National stereot...

Read More

Try a Little Tenderness: Notes on a Daughter’s Broken Finger

We were sitting in a private room in the ER, X-rays done, waiting for the doctor to arrive to show us the pictures and prescribe a course of action. That’s when my 14-year-old daughter had what was her first, I think, enlightenment moment, fully grasping, in a personal and urgent way, the strange tragic happenstances that can alter life in a brief blink. And thankfully, the in-breaking bit of wisdom didn’t cost her very much by way of bodily injury.

“It’s so weird,” she said, a shallow laugh coming into her voice somewhere near the top of her throat. “This morning I woke up and went to school and everything was all usual, and now I’m in ER with a broken finger.”

She’d been playing first base for her high school’s JV softball team when she reached to dig a throw out of the dirt and the ball struck her non-gloved hand in just the right freakish way to dislocate the joint at her knuckle and cause ...

Read More