Sunday, December 16, 2012

careful and careless

There are times when my younger son can drive me batshit.

Usually, the conversation goes like this as he heads out the door:

"When will you be back?" I ask in knee-jerk parental concern.

"I'll be back in an hour."

And then he is not back in an hour, but more like two.

What drives me batshit is not so much that his carelessness inconveniences me, but rather a bone-deep sense that keeping your word is important.

Funny about care and carelessness: There is no prize, no praise, no gold star for doing things with care. Since the stated intention was to do something right from the get-go, doing it right is no big deal. But there are all sorts of repercussions for doing things wrong, for carelessness, for not keeping your word.

With luck (if not pleasure), most of those repercussions are on display in the bathroom mirror. But I suppose everyone has met someone whose capacity to look in the bathroom mirror is incompetent ... who floats through life expecting others to see things their way and accede to their desires. Not for nothing was the bitch-slap or the slap upside of the head invented.

But carelessness is a wily cuss. Where care exercises itself in the present, carelessness is always apparent in hindsight. "The best-laid plans, etc."

So perhaps, for the caring soul, the best that can be hoped for is a caring carelessness, something that keeps "I'm sorry" at the ready because there is no escape ... even for those who have no sense that they are being or have been careless.

No gold stars for care.

Be careful anyway.

It's just the best I can figure.