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07/12/2004

If you meet the Buddha brandishing an ultrasound wand, kill him

Yesterday when I was fretting about not having had an ultrasound in weeks, weeks!, Paul said something deeply comforting.

He said, "But a scan only makes you feel better about the past. It can't tell you anything about the future. It would only tell you that everything's gone okay so far. It just means nothing's gone wrong yet."

Look, we already know I'm twisted, but I can explain why this statement, alarming on its face, put my mind more at ease.

We know from hard experience that an encouraging scan doesn't preclude bad things from happening later. Although it can suggest eventual success, it can't reliably predict it; it can only dependably predict failure.

We also know that although a scan makes me feel good for the next day or so, the fear returns shortly thereafter, peaking in the 12 hours immediately before the next scan.

And we know, unfortunately, that if something bad is going to happen (and I know I need not translate), there is, at this point, nothing we can do to prevent it.

Any reassurance we may get is fleeting and ultimately immaterial. Any belief that it's better to know sooner rather than later, a belief I intermittently embrace with varying degrees of fervency, is, at best, debatable. Any feeling of control is an illusion.

Yes, as a matter of fact, I truly did find this quasi-Buddhist realization comforting. I am rocketing toward enlightenment at such dizzying speed, I'm feeling a little bit queasy. Next stop: topknot, big earlobes, and the ultrasoundhi mudra.

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