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Tuesday, July 10, 2018


the mundane is a prayer of comfort

Started reading On Immunity by Eula Bliss. Thinking about risk, inoculation, a body's duality of danger/vulnerability to the public and personal choice.

How do we mitigate risk? If the notion of risk was on a continuum, where would you situate yourself to feel safe? We all might say, "right in the middle," but I bet we drift far to one side or the other. Either very safe, minimal risk, overly cautious or lax, open to the unknown, no rules.

The Thai boys in the cave occupied my mind for the last week. Their curious exploration nearly cost them their lives. Their coach (who seems both responsible for their predicament and their survival) relied on his Buddhist teachings to keep them safe. Their mental strength and calm offered some immunity to the dangers of panic in their unbelievably, daring extraction from the cave.

My son spent the week forging a sword. He was surrounded by hot coal fumes, natural gas, gasoline, grinding wheels and metal sparks.  He came home dirty, sore, with burn holes in his shirt and shaved knuckles. And skills, confidence, and passion. But it could have easily gone another way.

What if the risk does not result in a skill or higher good? What if it is just for fun? Is it still worth it?

I drop my daughter off in downtown New Haven for the afternoon with a friend. She knows her way around and is aware of potential dangers. But, do I want her navigating confrontations with the troubled men who populate the park? Does the fact that we spend time in NYC and other urban areas, modeling how to respectfully disentangle ourselves from altercations, offer some innoculation? Or is that a comforting myth? I am pretty streetwise and have been groped and robbed. Maybe the outcome would have been even worse without my awareness.

I am having a minor surgery for something that was only caught because I have insurance and the leisure to schedule and attend doctor's appointments. If I worked full time, lacked coverage and did not live in a safe area where I could occasionally leave my kids at home, I would have given up. It is costly and time-consuming and I am not even sure any of it is necessary.  But I will continue to get tests and have procedures because it seems like a way of staying safe. I would like to have lunch with Barbara Ehrenreich. I am curious about her perspective on the whole thing.

To be clear, these are privileged risks. They carry weight but have built into them a certain safety. We have means and are of a class that does not tolerate others' (teachers, doctors, homeless men) carelessness with our safety. We have the police, lawyers, and citizens ready to jump in to protect us.

I wonder about the risks of crossing a desert or sea in the search for safety. What sort of inoculations are available for that? What horrible reality makes one risk their child's safety? And why do some put the blame on poor parenting instead of looking back to see what the parent is actually running from? Do we even know about such horrors? Do we lack the imagination? I think we do, and some of us more than others.

I have no resolution on any of this, it is merely the frame through which I am processing the time. One risk, one calculation, and one wild imagining at a time.



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