The virtues of unnecessary panic

This post is a follow-up to “Jinx,” in which I commented at great length about my husband’s decision to drive darkened backroads to Eau Claire to purchase the new season of The Simpsons and his subsequent encounter with a kamikaze deer. As those of you who read it have probably observed, my panicky visions of being forced to purchase a new car and take on unsustainable car payments were overwrought, to say the least. I’m pleased to report that the insurance agent gave us the verdict today: The Civic will be repaired. We still have to pay the $500 deductible, but at least we’ll be free of car payments. (Unless I just jinxed myself again by saying that…) All of my angst and anxiety was fruitless and counterproductive. In my defense, however, I would like to point out two virtues of over-reaction: 1) I was emotionally prepared for a worst-case scenario and 2) the $500 deductible payment, which normally would in itself have been enough to tie me in knots, now seems like a welcome surprise. I have to say, too, that writing about my anxiety was therapeutic; I developed a vaguely Zen-like sense of calm after the words had been sent off into cyber-space. I’ve also come away from this experience with another revelation: the incredibly high price of normalcy. Not in the spiritual or metaphorical sense–I mean literally. If it costs more than $5000 to achieve a blemish-free car door, how much greater is the price of an entire vehicle? A house? A healthy child? If my son got sick or injured, how many thousands of dollars would I pay to restore him to the prattling exuberance I take for granted? Next time I start fretting about money, I need to stop and consider the incalculable wealth of mundanity. I can’t guarantee that I’ll always have the perspective to calm down and focus on my blessings, but it’s a line in life’s account book that shouldn’t be overlooked.

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