You’d hoped to type write this message while sitting under a beach umbrella, surrounded by an expanse of white sand and turquoise ocean. You had planned to paint a dazzling picture: the water an assemblage of prisms that flash and sparkle with reflected sunlight, the blues grading out from the shoreline, each stripe a deeper shade and a deeper drop to the underworld. You thought you’d have a dive under your belt already, and you planned to convey the magic you saw in schools of parrotfish and yellowtail. You also thought you’d write about family, and what it feels like to see relatives you haven’t seen in 20 years. Unfortunately the weather conspired against best-laid plans, and a two-day departure delay plus your One Year of Letters deadline prompts you to explore other vistas.
Or does it? You don’t dwell on the future—you don’t worry about events to come, nor do you try to control them. It’s the if onlys that prod you awake, not the what ifs. Perhaps it’s all those stories you read as a child, about people who bring on ill-fortune by trying to avoid it. So you apply the business adage “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission” to decisions about your personal life, preferring to risk a future sleepless night fretting over consequences than lose sleep imagining the consequences of different actions.
Of course, another adage that you live by, but which you really shouldn’t, is “out of sight, out of mind.” You tend to focus on whatever’s in front of you, which means on Valentine’s Day you’re the only woman in the aisle thumbing through the ragged remnants of the “For My Husband” cards (your fellow last-minute card seekers are almost always men). Even treasured friends rarely hear from you, and you don’t keep in touch with family either. An easy conclusion among neglected friends and relatives is that you don’t care, and you’ve lost some friends owing to perceived indifference. You do care, deeply, but too often you let that work obligation or that Facebook “friend’s” inflammatory post or that cute cat video distract you from what’s important.
It’s midnight now. You’re sitting in your hotel room, looking forward to the warm sand and sparkling ocean. At check-in you greeted relatives you haven’t seen in 20 years, and the lobby echoed with excited chatter. You’re happy to have this chance to rebuild connections you’ve let wither and let loved ones know your silence doesn’t equal your indifference. But whatever happens, at least the diving will be awesome tomorrow.
To read more of Amanda’s letters, click on Amanda!