Life is easy…except when it’s not


“College is too expensive… except when it’s not. Time is on your side… except when it’s not. Open all the time… except when it’s not. The sky is blue… except when it’s not.” —Google search headlines

There is a certain two-word phrase often tacked on to the end of fortune-cookie fortunes. It will remain unspecified at this time, but those who know it know it makes for pretty funny dinner conversation.

I have another one that fits when contemplating any thought, solicited or unsolicited suggestion, major decision and the like.

That phrase is, “except when it’s not.”* (*Subject to slight adjustment.)

As we all do from time to time, I find myself at a place where my gut is telling me to make some decisions. One of the many options would be to sell my house. It’s nothing I definitely plan to do because I am in no hurry and a little torn about it anyway. But, still, the option hangs out there.

These days, when faced with dilemmas, I typically do what—according to Google—2.5 million other people also do every day. I Google.

So I Googled home ownership vs. renting. Home ownership is still favored. Except when it’s not. There are many things to factor in. Life situations, location, down payment or lack of one, mortgage rates, sales trends and proximity to antique stores and coffee shops. (I made that last one up. I generally disregard the location of refurbishables and spiced chai.) Except when I don’t.

What I am learning is that I have no idea what I should do. And I am nothing if not consistent in that. When you reach a certain age (did I just say that?), you feel this instinctual need to know all and to be “there.” That place where, when you were 20 or 30 or 39, you pictured yourself. That age, from what I can tell so far, is not a specific number—but more of an invisible curve after you’ve rounded a couple of turns, are slightly stable(ish) (yes, it can be a word—I Googled it), are somewhat experienced but still floating along on the proverbial “wing and a prayer” when it comes down to it.

I guess no matter how often we are warned about “life getting in the way,” there is an assumption that it refers to somebody else’s life. Yet day to day we are proven wrong about that, somehow still getting by on memory, gut and sense. Except when we don’t.

The memory part of that trio is useful. Bad decisions remain close to mind; previous failures pop up as warnings. I travel with an invisible bubble above my head at all times. It is full of quotes from books, movies, songs, random people and probably a couple of bathroom stalls. A free gift courtesy of memory.

Remember God’s line from “Evan Almighty”: “If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient?” I love that line because it reminds me the answers won’t slap me across the face. But if I shut up and listen, those three benefits of memory, gut and sense may just lead me to the right answers. Well, except when they don’t.

When in doubt, I can head down the street for some Kung Pao stir-fry and a fortune cookie. And to that fortune, I will add the phrase of my choice. And it will be funny.

Except when it’s n–.

Never mind, I don’t care who you are—it’s always funny.


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