A month ago, as a follow-up to the event I wrote about here, I received an email from my Alumni Mentor/Mentee program saying that in the next day I should receive a mentor, matched to my interests and needs as a mentee. We would then go frolicking, hand-in-hand to Staples and discover our mutual interest in fine resume paper and good quality paper clips. Well, that day came and went and alas, I apparently have no mentor, no one to guide me down this unmarked, gravel bike lane, next to what appears to be a lovely, fully-paved career path.

This dread of yet again meeting solitude once again had me thinking about fears.

Long ago, on a road trip with a new girlfriend, I passed time with get-to-know-you questions, like who was your favorite Smurf. Taking it a level deeper, she asked me in a moment of gravity, what my deepest fear was. Perhaps to impress her with my profundity, I answered having all my loved ones die before me. When I asked her in return, expecting something more existential and gut-wrenching, she answered plainly that her greatest fear was getting the flap of skin near her elbow caught when closing a 3-ring binder.

I laughed but noticed she wasn’t laughing. So, I inquired further, do you have other fears? She added that she had the fear of getting whipped by the wildly automatic retracting cord of a vacuum cleaner — which to her, was about as deathly a fear as getting the back of her heels bumped by an encroaching shopping cart. I knew at that point we were not soul mates.

Upon returning home, I shared this disappointment with my closest confidante at the time, Stacey, but instead of colluding in my disappointment, her eyes widened. Mesmerized by the traumatic images lighting up in her memory, Stacey recounted the story when she was young and her mother would never let her push the shopping cart at the grocery store, warning her of the hidden dangers of shopping carts. But after incessant pleading, her mother finally relented, and Stacey victoriously earned the privilege of pushing the grocery cart back to the car. With the triumphant ebullience of her newfound responsibility, she confidently rolled the loaded cart out of the automatic doors.  Right then, the shopping cart took the small ramp of the curb too fast and at the wrong angle, and in a moment too quick to understand, the shopping cart toppled over, groceries and all onto Stacey, who was pinned for what seemed like an eternity underneath the cart. Her mom shrieked so loud that throngs of concerned shoppers abandoned their skilled shopping cart-pushing and rushed toward Stacey. Eventually the cart was lifted off of her and her life was saved.

It’s true, Stacey lamented. She was embarrassed to death.

Today’s Advice: “I want the truth, the marrow-bone truth, and I find the intimations of it whenever I am alive to things, even the most familiar and commonplace things, for the wilderness I take them to comprise. It seems to me that every time I am born, the wilderness is born anew; and every time I am born, it seems to me that then, if ever, I could be content to die.” – Henry Bugbee, The Inward Morning