Ancient History

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My body is a Plinko board

It was last night, in the shower, when I realized it had been exactly one month since my surgery. More than once in the past 30 days, I’ve muttered hateful things at my body. It didn’t bounce back fast enough. Pain was intense. I was tired and useless. Other health issues compound this feeling I’ve somehow been betrayed. I feel old and I look old, beyond what box dye can do for me in a pinch, beyond what the most powerful moisturizing night cream in our bathroom cabinet can accomplish.

I was clean enough to call the shower good, but I lingered. Water sheets fell, dispersed, trained themselves into rivulets, then drops. I watched the water separate when encountering obstacles—bumps, scars, blemishes, moles, hair—all that ugly stuff lovely, desirable women don’t have. Just when my annoyance was at a pinnacle, an image popped in my head.


The water drops were the discs, placed flat at the top, let go to fall, fall, fall. The audience cheers, the contestant holds her breath, and Bob Barker, out of retirement for this auspicious occasion, grins at the possibilities. I had a whole water heater full of chances to win big. What fun would it be if it was a straight shot to the $10,000 pocket? There would be no suspense, no challenge, nothing to overcome. Landing in the $0, sad-trombone pocket with obstacles in the way would still be exciting. On the trip down, there would be hope and fingers-crossed. Bouncing and veering, it could go either way. It’s not hope lost. It’s hope deferred.

I’m feeling shabby and threadbare, with time creeping like the wheezy winter sun. It’s a time of weakness, I admit to myself. I make stupid, foolish promises to eliminate jutting obstacles for a smoother journey.

But I like Plinko. I can’t help it. Wisdom means knowing where to let go and where to scoot an inch to the left or right. It means eyeballing the possible trajectories and realizing often only a best guess will do. It means trusting in the process, trusting that people do win and bells ring and there is much celebrating, in the end.

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