It is now 8:30 p.m. in Brussels. I should have checked into my room at the Holiday Inn by the airport this morning, had a little nap, and met my friend Ann this afternoon. Still tired from the flight, we probably would have finished an early dinner by now and retired to our rooms for the night. Tomorrow is a big day – our drive from Brussels to Bruges to check into the house we were renting for our week’s vacation.
However, it is only 2:30 p.m. here at home where I sit writing a new post on my blog, nibbling on a Chinese cookie from Giant Eagle.
What the . . . ?
I had to cancel my vacation in Belgium due to the eruption of a volcano with a long, unpronounceable name in Iceland. Flights to and from Northern Europe have been interrupted for nearly a week because of the ash spewing into the atmosphere and spreading east from Iceland over the UK and above the continent.
I, for one, would not think a volcano in Iceland could affect my vacation, since I wasn’t going to Iceland or (I thought) anywhere NEAR Iceland, for that matter. When it comes to volcanoes, apparently “near” is a relative term. Also, when I first heard of the eruption about a week ago, it never occurred to me that this would continue to disrupt air traffic, right up to the time we were due to leave the country.
It made me think about how random occurrences in the world can have such a far reaching effect on people. In the case of the volcano, it’s directly affecting thousands of travelers, and indirectly affecting every hotel, airport parking lot, cab driver and you-name-it. From something as seemingly simple as restarting my newspaper delivery in Madison, Ohio, to calling in extra people to work in baggage claim at Heathrow airport, the ripple in the pond spreads and spreads and spreads.
If you stop to think about it, there are occasionally really big things (like the volcano) , but also millions of seemingly inconsequential little things happening here, there and everywhere, every second of every day. Obviously, we don’t know about the vast majority of the little things, nor will we ever know them. But how many little things occur that eventually affect us directly, without our knowing they even happened?
For instance, suppose a baby in Thailand is teething, keeping its mother up half the night. The exhausted young mother goes to work in the morning to sew piecework, and misses some stitches on the pocket of a bathrobe. It goes undetected, and the garment is completed and shipped to the US.
A couple weeks later, I decide it’s time to replace my ratty old robe and order a new fluffy one online from the JC Penney website. I happily wear it for months. never noticing a small hole growing just a teensy bit bigger each time I jam my cell phone in the pocket or reach in to pull out a Kleenex.
Then one evening, my fingers search the pocket for a pill I was saving until bedtime – and it’s gone. I can’t find it on the floor or between the cushions of the couch. I can’t find it anywhere. It’s 11:30, Rite Aid’s pharmacy area is closed, and that was my last pill.
There’s nothing I can do about it, so I go to bed without taking my beta blocker and fall fast asleep.
Then bam! I have a heart attack in the middle of the night, and I’m a goner!
All because a baby was teething in Thailand . . . .
(And if anyone has been wondering why I haven’t tried writing fiction, now you know.)