Friday, February 22, 2008

New Day #57

Today's New Thing comes courtesy of my six-year-old goddaughter Amy, who left the following message on my answering machine:

"Uncle Marc, it's Amy. I'm calling to find out why do bad things happen. Why do people get sick or have accidents? Or why do they fall in love with you when you don't love them back? And why is the oil on the ground rainbow-colored even when the sun doesn't hit it?"

The simple answer, of course, is "I dunno." But I was determined to find out. So I decided to ask every person I met the same questions. Since I was making a road trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival as the guest of Kate Sokoloff of Live Wire Radio and Marty Hughley from the Oregonian, I had plenty of opportunities. Here's a sampling of the answers:

1) Why do bad things happen?
Because they do.
It's God's will.
There is no God.
It builds character.
If there's good, there's got to be bad.
The world is a random, chaotic place.

2) Why do people fall in love with you when you don't love them back?
Frankly, no one had a good answer to this one. Love stinks.

3) Why is the oil on the ground rainbow-colored?
No one knows. Look it up on the internet.

I'm still pondering how I'm going to answer these questions for Amy. I think I'll tell her the truth--that life is full of mysteries; perhaps there are answers, but we don't have the perspective to understand them. It's like the Taoist story about the farmer whose horse runs away. That's bad, right? But then the horse comes back with another horse. So that's good. But then the horse throws the farmer's son and he breaks his leg. That's bad. But then the army comes to take all the young men away to fight a war and the son is saved because of his leg. So that's good, right?


maria said...

I asked my family about Amy´s last question, about the rainbows. ( I have a family of science nerds). They explained the oil spreads in very fine sheets, and so the light refracts with different angles, whence the rainbow effect.

It did not do it to me, but Amy seems such a smart girl...

maria said...

It did not do it For me. Not to me.

Marc Acito said...

It helps to have smart people around. Thanks.

Macaroni said...

Is it so bad that people fall in love with someone who doesn't love them back? I mean, it doesn't make for unicorns and puppy dogs and happy endings, but isn't just the awesomeness of a deep, driving crush sort of cool?
Maybe that is the desperate view of someone who's been in a monogamous relationship since the first Bush presidency/Gulf War. I love when I have a crush, because it's such a heady thing even though it's never going to become more than a crush. And when someone is crushed out on me, it's a total boost. Unless it's some creep who gets obsessive and starts collecting your toenail clippings etc. But surely that is just a special exception subset sort of thing.
Uncle Marc, why do people collect toenail clippings, etc.?