My friend started an office pool on the outcome of my adventure. She assumed I would resent and be offended by the idea, but I found it hilarious. There is, of course, a free office pool website where bets are placed.
She puts it this way:
It’s a three-month adventure. He’s been there two weeks. Stifled by humidity, swarmed by termites, mauled by a series of rouge waves…will Derek flee before the planned date of return? Will nature attack again? Will he harmonize with the island way and stick it out unscathed?
The two questions are:
- How long I’ll actually stick it out–from all three months to immediate panicked flight
- What element–bugs, lava, lightning, aliens–will attack next?
The results are in. I was wrong on both counts.
Time smooths things out; given enough, even calamity is funny. Vonnegut wrote about being ordered to find mines on a snowbound stretch of road. He and another guy had no training or equipment, not even shovels. They stand in the silent falling snow in the midst of war’s crazy insanity and begin stomping, with crazy leaps, shouting. They come down as hard as they can. After stomping the whole stretch they run back and report the road is clear.
When you are stomping mines you cannot know are there, is the fear so strong it becomes elation? It is a very different story to face death’s horrors with giggling. Years on, did Vonnegut remember the fear or just the fine breathless release of being on the other side?
It’s hard to say why anyone does anything, but if you do enough you see the pattern. If you don’t like the pattern, you can change. You really can.