Jeff's Rule #1

It's the rule:

There's no limit to how fucked you can be.

This rule first came into sharp focus between Thanksgiving 2010 and Thanksgiving 2012. My wife's mother died and then I lost my job in the same week, people would say "at least it can't get any worse." Then the breast cancer diagnosis came in. Then my son got suspended from school. Then my dad died. Then my father in law died -- all in a period of basically two years.

Conclusion? There is no natural limit to the arrival rate of crises in a modern life. That's the "Full Catastrophe." Not something unexpected or cruel, just the statistical result of numerous unrelated, semi-random processes working independently.

From a 30 second Google search, it appears that the "full catastrophe" was first articulated by Zorba the Greek (now I need to watch the movie):

Am I not a man? And is a man not stupid? I'm a man, so I married. Wife, children, house, everything. The full catastrophe. 

You see? Just normal life. Jon Kabat-Zinn picked up the term for the title of his book on mindfulness and stress reduction. When I can follow his suggestions, and get myself to accept the full catastrophe mindfully, not trying to fight it and push it away, I at least don't add (too much) to my own pain.

Whenever I hear someone say "you're due for some good luck now," I remember Law #1, and I remain mindful. I try not to get invested in the narrative of "it can't get any worse," because I know that's not true.

I had written much of this post before I got K's call yesterday that she had been in a car accident (no major injuries, except to the car and the flow of the day). So I just remembered the law, took a deep breath, re-routed my day and hung out with my wife in a coffee shop while waiting for a tow truck. Not so bad, really, this so-called catastrophe.

You may glean from my tone that K and I have moved on a long way in the past two weeks. That's what this journey is like. Just wait a few days. Things will change. But don't assume it will be for the better. Remember Law #1.

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