The Other I

January 12, 2008

Predicting the past

Filed under: Life as a Nun,Osteoporosis — theotheri @ 5:25 pm

Yogi Berra once said that prediction was difficult, especially when you are talking about the future.  I’ve often thought that, although we think predictions are more uncertain the further into the future we go, it is often events about two seconds in the future that hold the most unexpected surprise.

Today Peter and I were walking in London on our way back to Kings Cross to catch the train to Cambridge.  Without any warning whatsoever, I tripped.  I tripped over absolutely nothing visible for no identifiable reason, but went careening across the sidewalk, dizzily trying to avoid running into pedestrians coming in the opposite direction and pushing them into the traffic.  I almost caught myself, but failed and the first part of me to hit the concrete was – my cheekbone.

Two men got to me before Peter, and helped me up with great solicitations.  I was mostly embarrassed, but it must have looked absolutely awful, and it was difficult to assure either my husband or the two strangers that apart from what was rapidly becoming a black eye, I was fine.  During the five seconds or so in which I was crashing to the ground, Peter thought I was having a stroke or heart attack, and it must have felt like one of those moments when the future changes totally in a two second segment.  We are now home, and he is still in shock, I think.  I myself am no longer in shock, but I am concerned that I did not catch myself with my hands instead of falling on my face.  With my osteoporosis, a fall like that could indeed short-circuit my future quite substantially.

Predicting the past, on the other hand, is somewhat easier.  Someone has just sent me a story about a play three of us put on as young professed sisters at Maryknoll, and as Yogi Berra also said, it’s like deja vu all over again.

The author, G, describes herself as a dreamer, supremely confident that we could carry it off with aplomb.  T was a doer – she procured copies of the play, the props, and somehow a huge selection of costumes from which we fashioned our stage outfits.  “Bernadette Mary,” G says, “was the most practical.”  I was also the most sceptical, and a perfectionist.  Most of all I realized the danger in the serious possibility that we could all make fools of ourselves.  Yes, that would have been me.  More concerned to avoid ridicule than to produce a flawed but creative entertainment.  I asked how I looked in my selection of costumes and managed apparently to look quite fetching.  Yes, I would have been sure to manage that.  (I didn’t get over an almost obsessional concern about how I looked until I met Peter, who paradoxically convinced me that I was indeed quite physically attractive, and that he would love me even if I weren’t.)

We three were young and energetic with a lot of good will.  We complemented each other more than we knew then, each contributing our strengths and talents, and doing for the other what we could not do for ourselves.

How good the play actually was, though, I can’t remember.

To see additional posts on osteoporosis, click on “Select Category” in the right-hand column, and select Osteoporosis.

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