return to sender

Posted on April 18, 2010


for some reason or another, I recently came across a clip of Nancy Kerrigan right after she had been attacked (here’s a video. skip ahead to about 1:55). she cries “why?” and “why me?” over and over again. it’s uncomfortable and sad. it’s also just a tiny bit funny, but maybe only because we know now that if 1994 had youtube, this clip would have gone viral faster than you can say “Oksana Baiul.” and also because we know that she ultimately recovered from her injury to win a silver medal. and by “we know,” I mean wikipedia says.

of course, lots of things happen that cause me to wonder “why?”. some are small and trivial, like when ants show up in a cleared-out dishwasher, or when my macbook screen flickers. some are gigantic, like the proliferation of various injustices in this otherwise decent world, or why someone like ke$ha matters one bit in said otherwise decent world.

but perhaps the things that affect me most – and by most, I mean in the most immediate, day-to-day way – are the situations and circumstances that occur somewhere in between trivial and gigantic.

their explanations reside in that weirdly unique place between nonexistent and ineffable. if I’m somehow able to pinpoint some order behind the chaos, I skeptically discredit myself with charges of arrogance; definitive answers to life scare the heebees out of me. and I think that’s an interesting pattern of behavior that, for the sake of my sanity and sense of semi-normalcy, I hope others find themselves in, too.

when I hear myself asking “why?”, it’s because of something I didn’t ask for. and in those moments of reflection and questioning, I find myself desperately wanting to (terrible figurative language alert!) box up the fun little gift left for me on my doorstep and return to sender.

of course, unless I decide to fall off the grid, this is largely impossible. there’s the canon of “you’ll get through it!” sentiments, which, in my opinion is like hold music. it plays and plays until something happens, but it carries no causal effect. there’s utter resignation, but I think that resignation and misery often go hand-in-hand, assuming that resignation and acceptance are slightly different things. there’s also the option of doing something completely (b)rash, but it’s sort of outside my character to “go all office space” on something.

what remains is people; to be more precise, community. will community fix my life? not necessarily. will they gracefully (and humorously) remind me that I can lean into them for support and non-hallmark encouragement? yes. instead of looking for an eject button, I’m reminded by community that I can work within and through my current lot. things can be done to practice forbearance, to seek purpose behind calamity (however mild it may be compared to those gigantic questions), and even to take action. and when I need it most, they remind me of a providence beyond me, which is, frankly, pretty rad.