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The other day I was watching one of those PBS mystery TV shows -- you know. The kind where the main characters are some combination of an older, grizzled investigator paired with a fresh faced youngster. So in this particular episode one of the villains was an unsavory smug college student wearing a t-shirt with the words amor fati. Intrigued, I Googled the words and found that in latin, it translated to a love of one's fate: "It is used to describe an attitude in which one sees everything that happens in one's life, including suffering and loss, as good or, at the very least, necessary, in that they are among the facts of one's life and existence, so they are always necessarily there whether one likes them or not. Moreover, amor fati is characterized by an acceptance of the events or situations that occur in one's life."
(Originally attributed to Epictetus. Also attributed to Marcus Aurelius. Used repeatedly in Nietzsche's writings (some of which I'm NOT a fan). But I digress.)
I was also NOT a fan of the actions of this tv kid, but after some thought I decided that his one redeeming quality was choosing clothing that piqued my interest. After reading other philosopher's take on amor fati, I conceded that the idea of embracing an attitude of total acceptance of all aspects of my life -- both good and not so good -- would probably be a valuable tool in dealing with chronic illness. I have to admit that I still need to work at embracing all of the challenges that autoimmune disease has brought to my life.
One of the historical philosophers I mentioned above -- and here I fully admit that I'm just too lazy to go back and find out which one -- elaborated further that one's fate should be so completely accepted that you would be content to experience your life in some kind of never-ending loop; repeating your existence including every minute detail -- good and bad -- into infinity.
Hm. I'm thinking that may be taking things a bit far. I mean, it may be one thing for ME to have achieved complete zen with the events of my life, but it's another for the WORLD to have to suffer through all the events of my life. Over and over and over and over.
Did I share with ya'll yet another Julia doofus moment that fully illustrates this? No? Sigh. Well.
I was back in Wisconsin with my mom and had done a let's-restock-every-grocery-item-in-Mom's-pantry kind of shopping trip. I was standing in the store checking my shopping list and looking at the cart groaning with supplies with satisfaction when it occurred to me that after all the work of locating and loading all that stuff I deserved a treat from the coffee shop in the store before I paid for it all and then heaved it all into Mom's car. So I ordered one of those frozen coffee whipped cream thingies for myself, Mom, and her caregiver Isabel. Gee, I thought. It's really hot out there. I'd better get these home pronto before they melt.
So while blissfully sipping my frosty drink, I pushed the cart out to the car. And as I began unloading the items, I was thinking indignantly that it was just a shame that the cashiers had not put my stuff into grocery bags. My goodness -- what is customer service coming to these days? And I tsk tsk tsk-ed my way halfway through the mountain of groceries before it occurred to me that the reason my purchases were not bagged was because they were NOT PURCHASES.
Yes. I had pushed a grocery cart stuffed to its limit with valuable Gordy's IGA products right out their front sliding doors past greeters, cashiers, stock persons, and customers WITHOUT PAYING FOR ANY OF IT.
AND NOT ONE SOUL HAD GIVEN ME A SECOND GLANCE.
For a fraction of a nano second, I considered hastily dumping the remainder of the cart contents in the car and burning rubber out of the parking lot. But of course, reason and conscience prevailed and I shoveled it all back into the cart. When I wobbled my way back into the store though the same doors I had confidently sailed through just minutes earlier (this adventure was exhausting and I wasn't half finished yet) my arrival back into the store caused more than one set of raised eyebrows. Apparently people that steal $200+ worth of groceries rarely roll them all back into the store.
The middle aged cashier stood with her arms crossed, hair piled high on her head, chewing gum, and looked as though she belonged behind the bar of of a saloon. She calmly eyed me struggling with the cart as I reentered the store then wheeled everything to a stop before her dripping with perspiration and gasping for breath.
"Honey. I've seen everything imaginable in this store. But this is new." She cackled. "Guessing you want to pay for this stuff now?"
Please don't put me in jail please don't put me in jail please don't put me in jail... By this time I was drenched in sweat, energy spent, and didn't see a bit of humor in the situation as she and another cashier burst into laughter.
I slid my debit card through the machine and was relieved to hear,"Sweetheart, you look all done in. Let me get someone to help you load this into your car. And don't worry, we won't report this crime." She cackled again and handed me the receipt.Yeah. She definitely should be mopping a bar with a cigarette dangling from her mouth in a tavern somewhere. What a doll.
My point? If good old Epictetus was right and the universe would be inflicted with a chubby sweaty mindless grocery stealing Julia for all eternity?
Wouldn't be a good thing. More accurately, it would be impossible for both me AND the universe to love this incident as part of our infinite fate.
I think I'm going to go read about a different philosopher.