Hi Folks! Here’s an excerpt from an essay in The Houston Chronicle by 90 year old Leon Hale. He is pondering a personal “test” — driving his pick up around the downtown loop — to make sure he’s still in fine fettle. He feels good, his eyes are good, his writing is great so — why not? But his friends are less encouraging:
Those who want me to quit the test say, “What if you get rear-ended by an 18-wheeler? What if you had a flat tire going over the Ship Channel Bridge? What if a dog ran out on the freeway and you swerved to miss it and hit another car?”
But they’re not trying very hard. Lots more interesting and horrible stuff could happen.
What if a large bird, such as a buzzard, flew through my windshield and shattered it?
What if a helicopter crashed on the freeway and, of all the vehicles on the Loop, landed on top of my pickup? It could happen.
What if, while I was going around, Houston had an earthquake? We’ve never had an earthquake, so maybe we’re due one.
When I was 10 years old, in my school we had an assignment called current events. The forerunner of show and tell, I think. Each student clipped a news story out of the paper and got up at school and summarized the event.
I had found an item about a meteorite crashing through a barn in Germany, killing a cow. Mrs. Carter, our teacher, said after I gave my little talk, “Just think. Even cows in their barns are not safe.”
Just think: We’ve been imagining worst case scenarios for 80 years, and now it’s a national pastime. We think we are just being smart and protective, when actually we are being incredibly pessimistic and distrusting. We especially do it when it comes to our kids and, apparently, our elders. We underestimate them both. — L