Grieving. Even though “the world is not alright” – Jeanne Moreau’s last words in Until the End of the World– the suffering of others isn’t able to penetrate today. For now, it is secured inside the darkened flat screen on the wall – a good sign that there haven’t been any new mass shootings. Had there been, the talking heads would be in the living room in full daylight. For now they’re quarantined until dusk.
Fretting. Thankfully, the bodies closest to me are all withholding whatever any disturbing secrets that might be hiding within their neuro-bio-chemical matrices. Thinking this way about mortality – as hidden but imminent, I pretend that when it comes I won’t be surprised, that I will be able to manage the devastation. This kind of mental voodoo works equally well in lesser crises: Imagine the worst-case scenario and it surely won’t come true.
Exercising. Unless making a practice wedding cake counts as aerobics, I can’t claim to have pushed myself today. Scaling iced-over ledges doesn’t build up body muscle when it’s done in the kitchen. It’s more likely to bulk me up for the demands of sitting and typing. I do so little exercise that this paragraph can’t be dragged out any longer.
Weeding. I’m ignoring the crown vetch, the wayward Dutchman’s Pipe, the horse mint, the ubiquitous Michaelmas daisies, and invasive black willow shoots that will be trees by next year. (Forget the Japanese knotweed.) They taunt me when the soil is moist like it is today; they’d be so easy to pull. But the closest I’ve come to doing yard work is tying strands of day-glow orange yarn around some transplanted saplings. The hope is that the weed-whacker will skirt them. If they do survive the winter, I’ll have a bank of white iris along the stream. This will be my defensive wall against the onslaught of weeds that love the watery edge of the lawn. Much easier than pulling them out.
Needless to say, I’m not doing a lot of other things, say, skydiving, open heart surgery, or robbing a bank. Though they don’t count; they’re beyond pale of imagining, at least in this life. It is tempting to think of what I might be doing if things had gone differently. Think Run, Lola, Run. But unlike the operations of chance that obsess Tod Tykwer, grieving, fretting, exercising, and weeding aren’t alternate states of being and doing. They are just deferred.