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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Those Unplanned Moments

This is Steven Petrick posting.

Life is a series of events, most of which are not planned but simply happen. We are impacted by the actions of strangers, and in this age of mass world wide 24 hour news cycles the actions of strangers have more consequence. That is to say that a tsunami hitting in Indonesia or Japan or Alaska has no direct bearing on my life, but the news makes it immediate.

There are other things.

Not too many years ago SVC lent me a book to read. At one point I found the characters having a meeting in Moscow where they discussed the statue of "Iron Felix" standing before the KGB building. The thing was, between the time SVC had read the book and I had started reading the book, the good citizens of Moscow had torn that statue down.

At another time I called SVC to discuss the coup in Moscow. SVC berated me for calling him at that hour of the night to discuss a scene in the book, noting it could surely wait until the morrow. I then had to stop him and say: "No. There is a coup going on in Moscow right now!" Yes, the book's story had a coup in Moscow, and was written more than a year a earlier, and it just happened that between SVC finishing the book and lending it to, my own reading speed, a coup happened for real (this was in the 1990s).

Another incident not related to the book, but related to the news cycle, and during Gulf War I (operation Desert Storm) involved the launching of SCUD missiles at Israel. At one point a missile was reported on its way to Tel Aviv, and an American reporter climbed onto the roof of a building (rather than intelligently taking cover) to report on it. As I looked at the TV screen I could not help a sarcastic comment about bad things (actually, about that particular SCUD having a tactical nuclear device), and the screen suddenly went dark. The home office had lost the connection to the reporter. You can probably imagine the scare thoughts that passed through my mind at that point, as in "yes, it was a nuke."

Life is full of little unexpected moments. Some of the more familiar are the taxi driver who winds up having to help deliver a baby in the back of his cab. Or the office worker who dives into the freezing Potomac to rescue badly injured people from a plane crash. Those are larger incidents, but bear in mind that in your day to day life there are always going to be little unplanned events.