“It is a slightly arresting notion that if you were to pick yourself apart with tweezers, one atom at a time, you would produce a mound of fine atomic dust, none of which had ever been alive but all of which had once been you.” ― Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything
Bill Bryson is the kind of person who knows things you never knew you wanted to know (that’s a real sentence). He has a way of serving up scientific fact that makes your heart warm…and, believe me, science has never made any organ residing inside the fragile edifice of my skeleton warm.
But, he does. He has a way of saying “this is how it works” that makes you feel those fun little tingles in your chest. He pieces the whole world together in a few hundred pages and sets it right on your shoulders. Basically, he’s some kind of amazing (seriously), and I heart his sweet little words.
Funny, though, that words are a lot like atoms. They are more complex in that standing singularly they hold varying meanings and purpose (denotations are neat!). But, really, in order to create something substantial or living you need a grand multitude of them. Or, perhaps, just a few properly placed ones.
(This post would be infinitely better if I would have, for any amount of time, paid attention during the mandatory physics/anatomy/nonsensical-laws-theories-and-asumptions courses I took (sat through) in college)
When I was in high school, I was on the swim team. I swam for school and I swam for club and I absolutely adored it…other than the whole thing about plunging into freezing water.
I was, without fail, always the last one into that pool. I hated being cold. I still hate being cold. So, I would just stand there and think about it…and think about it…and think about it.
Think about how cold it was going to be. Think about how many laps it would take to finally warm up. Think about all of the reasons why getting into that water would absolutely ruin the next 15 minutes of my life.
Eventually, though, I would talk myself into getting into the water with the most simple of logics.
It’s just a temperature. Get in the water.
I do this to myself in all situations where I feel strongly about something. Usually strongly negative about something.
I think about what’s going on there. I boil it down to chemical reactions and temperatures and hormones. And then I decide that, if it’s not going to kill me, to just get on with it.
Get in the water.
Sometimes it doesn’t work, though. Some things in this world are just too complex. You want to argue it’s one thing, but before you can even come to a conclusion there’s 35 new points to be countered…and then you just run out of steam and sit down.
I’m sitting down today.
I wish I had a pair of tweezers that could separate all of the pieces of me that, when touching, create the thoughts swimming around inside of my head. I wish I could disconnect the pathways that remember and want and yearn for all of the things that make absolutely no sense.
Some days you can’t talk yourself into getting in the water.
Today I don’t even want to look at the pool.
This sounds dramatic and sad. So…I apologize for that.
But, really, we’re all allowed to have these days.
And, I hear, sometimes they’re even good for you.
Work, chocolate, and coffee.