Trust (Los Altos Town Crier, January 2014)
We trust that the sun will rise in the east, and that the day will be 24 hours long.
We trust that the earth will not shake under our feet, and that the ocean will stay in its place, rising and falling within its tidal bounds. Sometimes this trust is betrayed – there is an earthquake, there is a tsumani.
In California, we trust that between April and November it is safe to plan a picnic or a camping trip or an outdoor wedding. The weather will be fine. Once in a while there is an untimely diversion of the jet stream, and we have you-tube videos of drenched brides and soggy wedding cake.
We trust that between November and March we will have rain. Rain that replenishes the snow back in the Sierras, delighting skiers, snowboarders, owners of second homes at Tahoe and children of families who rent those homes for a weekend. Rain that makes our hills in December look like sleeping giants under softly curving blankets of green, tempting us to send pictures eastward to rouse the envy of our snow-bound relatives.
Sometimes a resilient high pressure ridge deflects the rainclouds, and we have drought burning our hills into barren gray, and tempting our eastern relative to ask us if they should bring their own water if they come to visit.
We trust in government, to provide safe roads, safe airways, safe airports, safe city centers, safe food and drink, safe industrial practices, safe working conditions. Sometimes this trust is betrayed, and we have government shutdowns, locked-down schools, grounded aircraft, epidemics of salmonella.
All of our decisions are based on trust.
We trust in colleages. Sometimes our trust is betratyed – there are moles in the FBI, there are back-stabbers at the office, there are businesses that fail and paychecks that bounce.
We trust in fellow citizens to follow the rules of the road, to pay attention while driving, to get their children vaccinated, to stay home from work when they are ill.
We trust in neighbors to watch our homes, but not invade them.
We trust in family. if I jump from the wall, Daddy will catch me. If I hurt my knee, Mommy will make it better. If I need a place to stay, my sister will welcome me. Sometimes our trust is betrayed. There are abusive parents, bitter divorces, family feuds, estranged children.
We trust in friends. A triumph can be shared. A secret will go no further. Sometimes our trust is betrayed. When that happens we feel anger, bitterness, resentment. The foundations of our world are twisted. We blame others for our pain. We feel we can never expose ourselves to this kind of pain again.
But if we cannot trust, we cannot love. We cannot laugh, or be child-like, or share any kind of intimacy. A world without trust is a world without smiles, without community, where all the headlines are grim.
My New Year’s wish: May you trust freely, and may your trust be well – earned. And may it rain.