diamond geezer

 Thursday, November 22, 2018

Life is a series of instabilities.

We juggle them as best we can, but every so often something comes along which changes the way we live.

Sometimes it's for the better, but sometimes not, and we have to readjust to a new version of personal reality which may not be what we'd hoped.

Major instabilities include the loss of a job, the birth of a child, an unexpected diagnosis, the start (or end) of a relationship, a bad accident, a sudden windfall, a death in the family, that kind of thing.

It doesn't even have to be a major instability to make a difference. There you are thinking your life's in balance, and something comes along which disrupts and unsettles everything.

I reckon there's a sequence to it.


Awareness is the moment something shows up, but you don't yet recognise it for what it is. It might be a child's cry, or a twinge in your chest, or your partner staying out for the night, or the sound of the phone ringing. When I lost my job, it was the moment an email pinged into by inbox inviting me to 'a meeting'.

Suspicion is the first dawning realisation that something might be up. It might be spotting you've had a lot of headaches lately, or noticing your birth date amongst the lottery numbers, or a lorry suddenly turning left, or wondering why your grandmother didn't ring this morning. When I lost my job, it was five minutes after the email arrived, when I suddenly thought "oh, this might not be good".

Confirmation is when a forthcoming change is verified. It might be the time a doctor sits you down and tells you something, or the split second after you fall off a ladder, or a positive pregnancy test, or reading the letter inside a brown envelope sent in the post. When I lost my job, it was the Powerpoint slide revealing what 'the meeting' was really about.

Definition is when ultimate ramifications are made clear. It might be being told the arthritis will make mobility difficult within three years, or having a pay rise confirmed, or being offered an engagement ring, or learning that the meteor will hit next Tuesday. When I lost my job, it was the meeting in which terms and conditions were settled along with a termination date. Sometimes 'what' and 'when' are confirmed separately.

Execution is the point at which the instability actually happens. It might be the first day at a new school, or the day your children leave home, or your first pair of bifocals, or the judge passing sentence. It might be the moment you give birth, or the moment you drop dead. When I lost my job, it was the moment I walked out the door and never came back.

(I was trying to get these five stages to start with consecutive letters of the alphabet, but I couldn't find a good 'B', sorry)

Some further examples.

1What's that smell?
2What's burning?
3Kitchen's alight!
4It's spreading!!
5Lost everything :(
1Off house hunting
2I like this one
3Offer accepted!
4Moving date set
5The van's here
1They're out again
2Are they cheating?
4I'm leaving you
5Single again

1Doorbell rings
2At 4am?
3Police on doorstep
4Sorry for your loss
5Cup of sweet tea
1I'm always tired
2Is that normal?
3Pah, diabetes
4Injections for life
5No chocolate
1They look nice
2Was that a smile?
3Second date!
4Down on one knee
5Just married

Things can move slow or fast. The onset of a chronic disease can take years. An eviction notice might give you two months to get out. In a car accident you might go from stage 1 to stage 5 in a matter of seconds, if you even notice at all. Sometimes having longer to adapt to the instability can be invaluable. Sometimes it only gives you longer to worry.

Importantly, sometimes the later stages never happen. You suspect something's wrong, but it isn't. Bad news is announced, but never followed through. You fear the worst, but it's not that bad. Sometimes things stabilise, or something else happens which entirely dwarfs it, or the whole problem goes away. But other times, sorry, there is no escape.

And I mention all this because I'm currently at stage 3. Stage 1 was last month, and looked perfectly normal. Stage 2 was a couple of weeks ago, but I didn't act on it until Monday. Stage 3 was yesterday - uncannily less than an hour after I'd been making a cup of tea and reflecting on how stable my life was. Stage 4 might be later this month, or next year, or even 2023. And I'm not concerning myself with stage 5 until stage 4's happened, because there's no need to destabilise my life until absolutely necessary.

It's all fine, don't worry. It's how things are. comments

Life is a series of instabilities. We all readjust as best as we can.

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