Yesterday I discovered a shit on the roof of my car. It was 6 AM on Saturday I was about to make my short drive to the gym, while my family continued to sleep. I was connecting the iPhone to its charger when I noticed something odd peering through the sunroof. It looked like bird droppings but, upon closer inspection outside the car, I saw something that resembled the poop of a grown man. I proceeded to the gym, imagining those lights that the cops in the seventies placed on their unmarked squad cars.
The whole time I lifted weights, the possibilities were floating through my head:
- Neighborhood teenage punk degenerates, squatting over my vehicle. And that naturally takes my mind to Walter Sobchak and the fine art of retribution…. But that doesn’t make sense, there would be dents on the hood and roof - at very least some foot prints.
- A disgruntled past employee dressed in burglar attire and black latex gloves, carefully placing dog feces on my vehicle and then disappearing into the night.
- The prehistoric screech of a reanimated pterodactyl dropping dirty bombs over my vehicle.
When I returned home, I got the hose out and asked my wife to inspect the mystery poo, before I blasted it away with water. She quickly determined a neighborhood cat had vomited on my car.
Later in the day, I was locked out of my instagram account - I panicked a little. Reinstalled the app on my phone. Attempted to access Facebook. Tried to reset my password. Went to my home computer, instead of just my phone. Nothing would work. Then I visited twitter and quickly realized that it was a widespread outage for all users.
In both instances, I assumed worst case scenarios and also placed emphasis on my personal impact, rather than laughing at the silliness of uncontrollable situations. It takes a great deal of mental strength to avoid burning energy on nonsense like this - it is pervasive in modern life. And while I was fixated on a phantom turd, the people of Texas were experiencing a hurricane (aka an actual catastrophe).
Looking back to Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome from 161 to 180, you realize that there is nothing new under the sun, “Here is the rule to remember in the future, When anything tempts you to be bitter: not, 'This is a misfortune' but 'To bear this worthily is good fortune.'
At the end of the day, Janet and I plopped onto the couch and watched a documentary called Obit, about obituary writers for the New York Times. It was exactly the perspective that I needed. If you don’t watch the film, I would strongly encourage you to read the obituary of John Fairfax - who oared across two oceans, attempted suicide by jaguar, apprenticed with pirates, and was a professional gambler. Trust me, that is just a quick overview - his life closely resembles a Wes Anderson screenplay - the guy was extraordinary.