The order in which things happen

So often, through fortune and fate, things transpire like this.

1) You get unexpected money (raise, bonus, birthday)
2) Something unexpected and expensive happens (cat breaks his leg)
3) You curse fortune

Consider the same features, but a different order

1) You sign up for an expensive vacation to Istanbul
2) Your cat breaks his leg and needs emergency splitting (and xrays, and medication, and a radiologist, for crying out loud)
3) Your oil change arrives with word that you need new brakes
4) Your husband comes home with news of an unexpected bonus and raise
5) Midas says you don’t really need new brakes after all

Theoretically, the brake stuff would neutralize each other, and the unexpected costs and unexpected extra moolah would be just the same as if you’d gotten the moolah first and the costs second. But no! When it happens the other way around, instead of bemoaning fate that has wrested your so-recent money from you, you bless fate for providing you with an unexpected windfall with which to pay your cat’s vet!

So much of life, the joy or the annoyance, is wrapped up in the perspective from which you look at it. Your cat comes home with a broken leg. Do you focus on the joy that your cat came home, or the troubles of the broken leg? You need to do yardwork. Do you focus on the unfairness of spending Saturday afternoon mowing, or rejoice that you have a home with green grass for playing on? I try to remind myself often that I have only a certain degree of control about what happens in my life, but I have quite a lot of control about how I view and approach the facts I can’t change.

In more concrete terms, you’ll be glad to hear that Justice is doing quite well. We’ve made Justice and Grey roomies, so that Justice doesn’t do stupid stuff like pick fights with his sister or attempt the stairs. He’s eating, drinking, using the litter box and sleeping quite a lot. He’s ungainly when he tries to move — he can’t get far without resting — but I’m guessing once it starts to knit he’ll look pretty funny tearing around with this big blue cast on!

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Brenda currently lives in Stoneham MA, but grew up in Mineral WA. She is surrounded by men, with two sons, one husband and two boy cats. She plays trumpet at church, cans farmshare produce and works in software.

2 thoughts on “The order in which things happen”

  1. fortune: 13th century. Via French < Latin fortuna "fate, (good) luck"]
    Microsoft® Encarta® 2007. © 1993-2006 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

    I would argue that fortune, good or ill, is rare. Most of it is consequence.

    Your cat problems stem from your choice to have a cat, your choice to allow it to go outside, and your choice to care for it. With the joy of cat ownership, comes …

    The raise and bonus are a consequence of diligence on your husbands part — his willingness to work hard.

    The brakes are a result of getting a second opinion! But without the first negative opinion about your brakes, you would not have had the joy of reprieve.


    1. My own work aside, the entire company was approved the same raise and bonus by our board. So perhaps my decision to work at a my current company could be praised. But I also happen to think I am fortunate.


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