The morning after our wedding, we went to church. We sat in the middle of the pew about six rows from the front. I swallowed wrong. I started to cough. Except who wants to cough when you are in the middle of a fancy Chicago church where you don’t know anyone? So I did my best to keep from coughing, turning red while my wife of 18 hours wondered whether I’d survive.
I did. I was in no real danger. Just the fear of causing a scene, of being a distraction.
As we drove through Fort Wayne yesterday, forty years (less one day) from that day, I thought about a handful of other moments when I’ve been deeply concerned about something that was no danger other than being a distraction, of causing a scene. I’ve worried about looking right, of responding right, of being as good as I think someone else expects.
On a card on my desk at the moment, scrawled in sharpie, are the words “You aren’t K__. Don’t be K__. Be Jon.” It’s for a project I’m working on. K__ would be stunned that I’m worrying about the comparison.
On that morning in Chicago, when I was worried about creating a distraction, no one cared as we slid past four other people to the aisle and out the back door (after finding a drinking fountain). We found lunch somewhere, I assume. And got on with the rest of our lives.
We get obsessed, I think, with events. We plan, we worry. The wedding. The performance. The production. The presentation. The conversation. We want to get it just right. We don’t want to be a distraction, to cause a scene.
I understand. I also understand that we (get to) live in the afters.