The other day my aunt announced she was going to run a few errands and went off on her way. I simply locked the front door after her and realized that I forgot to say the usual “okayseeyoulaterloveyoubye.” I waved the thought away because I knew she’d be back within the hour anyway.
There’s a lot we take for granted, besides the obvious food and shelter and running water and education. We take certainties for granted. In that moment I trusted that my aunt would come home safely and on time, which is something that I really could not have known for sure.
There are some things we know for sure, though.
We trust that the sun will keep shining as it always has, and rise and set as always. We expect the moon to do the same, and we are not surprised by its waxing and waning. We trust that the bed we fall asleep in will be the same one we wake up in. We trust that in the morning all our loved ones are alive and well. We trust that when they all go to school or work they will come home safe, too.
We trust that the ground we walk on will not fall out from underneath us. We trust that the bushes, houses, buildings we passed by yesterday are still standing and that the streets we walk sill have the same turns. We trust that if we drop a letter into the blue mailbox it will reach its destination and we trust that if we send off an email it will also reach the recipient.
We know these things, we count on them. These are things we wouldn’t think twice about shifting or warping or vanishing altogether, because there’s no reason to. What comes up must fall down and if my eyes are brown today they will be brown tomorrow as well. Grass should always feel like grass and water should always feel wet, just as the sky should be blue until it blushes at sunset and predictably deepens into that inky darkness of the night. We know.
The best part is that no matter how well we should know these things by now, at any given moment we might find something astonishingly new in the certainties. An indescribable color in the sky, the perfect roundness of the moon, a particularly nice rock in the dust maybe. The way a friend talks, the sound of the car coming up the driveway, familiar smells in the air at this time of year.
These things are not so much fascinating as they are comforting, and comfort is something that can be hard to find in the things we do not know for sure.