There is something really terrible about not being in control. It’s the reason people fear flying or love. It’s not hard to understand. We have to be in charge.
While we’re here at least, life is pretty unavoidable. Things are going to happen. People are going to leave. I’m having a difficult time, but I’m also perfectly fine. I guess what I’m trying to say is have you ever read the introduction to A Tale of Two Cities?
My father hates to be late. He hates it so much that this was an understood fact even before I could tell time. I remember sitting in the front seat of our 1989 Nissan Sentra, red with grey interior, which was my mother’s car. His car was unavailable for reasons outside of the parameters of this anecdote.
I was bored. Earlier in the trip he has silenced the music by punching the eject button on the cassette deck with his index finger. I counted road signs. A car ride without my cassette single of Tiffany’s “I Think We’re Alone Now” was hardly a trip worth taking. As we merged onto the New York State Thruway, the cars stretched out to the horizon like a hard candy carpet. I wouldn’t learn what the term ‘rubbernecking’ actually meant for 20 more years.
“Are we late?” I asked.
“Yes,” my father replied.
“Is it okay to be late to a funeral?”
“There’s nothing you can do about it.”
To this day, I’m still not sure if he was talking about the traffic. There is nothing you can do about it. It’s the kind of phrase that settles the question, but not the problem. Sometimes though, when a solution is impossible, it’s nice to declare it so.
Accepting that certain things cannot change isn’t the same as giving up. It can feel like it though, when you’ve been trying like hell to get to that funeral, or to live in a world where your girlfriend doesn’t move to Paris, or to stop your neighbor from smelling, or to, at the very fucking least, stop that smell from migrating into your apartment from the hallway. It’s not giving up. It’s the opposite. It’s what can allow us to keep going.
Sometimes there’s nothing you can do about it. Well, more accurately there’s nothing I can do about it. At least the version of myself who is writing this right now. But they say the cells of your body regenerate completely every seven years.
It’s not entirely true though. Some cells take longer than that. Some never regenerate at all. The cells of your stomach lining renew every five days, while bones take ten years to completely replace themselves, and teeth never do. Once thought to be irreplaceable, new studies have shown neurons and cardiac tissue to be capable of regeneration.
So even your head and your heart are capable of change. Of course, not entirely, and it occurs an extremely slow rate. According to a 2010 Swedish study, the yearly turnover for cardiomyocytes, or cardiac muscle cells, is about 1% starting at birth, though it declines with age. Things will change and you will change, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
It might take some time but it will happen. It’s involuntary. But for now there’s nothing you can do about it. Maybe that’s okay in some way.
There is something really beautiful about not being in control. It’s the reason people love flying or love. It’s not hard to understand. We have to be in change.