Monday, January 14, 2008

How I Envy Those with Certitude, and the Wealthy; also, Otters

I often find myself believing that doubt makes people more interesting; that those interesting people who are interesting because they display no doubt (not that everyone who displays no doubt is interesting, are you following me, but that some people are interesting because they engage in doubt-worthy enterprises but display no doubt, outwardly) are, in fact, hiding vast reservoirs of doubt and that is what actually makes them interesting.

In case that’s true, I hang on to doubt the way my parents hang on to old newspapers and magazines, and you’d be hard-put to get me to sell it off or, worst of all, throw it away.

Which is why it’s so very very strange that I envy those who are certain. Certain of anything, really, I don’t care what, although I feel most envious of those who are certain about things I disagree with. Because those things would have to be really really hard to believe in the first place. Can you imagine how rock-solid one’s certainty would have to be to be so very very convinced of such things?

I imagine that the Certain Person’s day goes something like this: upon waking in a comfortable bed he or she richly deserves under a roof that could belong to no other, the Certain Person puts on clothes that look terrific and heads downstairs to greet the smartest kids in their class and to eat a perfectly normal breakfast after taking a shower using the infinite supply of hot water. Picking up the keys to the exact right car, he or she leaves his or her hard-won and well-deserved house—a house that fits his or her personality and makes him or her feel a rich sense of achievement—to drive to work at a job that pays the bills and offers a dose of personal pride; this is no fly-by-night outfit, either, but a trusted, benevolent employer where he or she pictures him- or herself advancing into the golden glow of a fulfilling career. Driving to work listening to the news, knowing that we’re fighting for freedom someplace where our enemies live, he or she is comforted by the knowledge that our leaders know best what’s safest for all Americans and will do their utmost to see our lives made even better. And that the Lord is looking out for those leaders, and for the troops, and for each and every one of us. And that criminals are bad bad people, worse than him or her, and deserving of punishment of all kinds. After working really hard at that fulfilling job and doing the best work of anyone in the whole department, he or she heads home with the expectation that the nutritious, prion-free dinner he or she is going to eat will be one of many in an uninterrupted string of healthy meals of great deliciousness. And after the dinner and a dose of very funny and realistic medical television, he or she will go to bed and enjoy the hottest marital relations anyone is having anywhere with his or her immortal spouse, then drift off into what is sure to be a sound sleep, knowing that the next day will be more or less the same, a beautiful necklace of sunrises and sunsets stretching into a restful retirement and a secure old age, followed at last by the eternal reward of the afterlife.

Ahh, the Certain. What a joy it must be to be you.

And then there are the wealthy, who, it is well known, can purchase happiness. And otters are extremely good swimmers and very cute.


Unknown said...

How eloquently you described my life (well, except for the hot marital sex part) about six years ago.

It doesn't last.

I no longer have the perfect job with an internationally-known company, the beautiful house and just-right car. My perfect kid turned out to have a few qualms about finishing that expensive education, and I'm now among millions wondering just what the hell our government is doing.


(Well, okay. Except for the sucky government part. Still working on the fabulous sex part.)

Anonymous said...

Nicely put. Me, I envy the Amish. They have certitude in spades. Also, they never have to worry about what to wear.

Unknown said...

This is why I love reading your blog. I am certain you don't envy me, and I also have a great fondness for otters.

Anonymous said...

Otters don't seem to mind the cold, either.

Bill Braine said...

I already don't mind the cold. But otters don't mind the cold in a very stylish and debonair, but cute, way. Which I now envy thanks a LOT.

wcs said...

The only thing I'm certain about is that I'm not certain about anything. Oooh, my head hurts.

Are you talkin' fresh water otters or the ocean-going variety?

Anonymous said...

It is funny you have otters and uncertainty on the same page - i am attempting to address the future, uncertain at best, with the energy and joy that otters bring to what ever they do.

Nice post. Nice writing. Thank you very much.

stephanie said...

I am only certain that I'm as much a sinner as any criminal (different crimes is all), I will never be a good morning person, I do love my job even when it makes me cranky, and otters are indeed about the most endearing creatures alive. Even more so than my own children (because otters don't talk back).

Happy Friday, man - you deserve it (oh, I'm certain of that, too :))

BarbaraCA said...

I watch otters quite a bit here, and I think that they're so (apparently) happy because they don't worry about being certain or less certain or kind of certain. They just are in each ottery moment. Plus, they get to swirl and bob; it makes me wish I might be that comfortable and nondrowny in the ocean.

Or, maybe contentment is just eating lots of fresh seafood.

Suzanne said...

M'eh, certitude is overrated. I'll take Exurbitude over Certitude any day. :) But yes, otters are very nice.