Via www.usps.com, I’m relieved to see that a fellowship application I mailed off last week has finally arrived at its destination. The experience of tracking it daily, fretting all the while that it might be lost in transit, makes me wonder whether my nerves would’ve survived an earlier era, when people routinely sent love letters, patent applications and other life-changing communications by post without any way to verify whether they were ever received.
One version of afterlife I’d heartily welcome is a lofty perch of omniscience from which the deceased could survey all of human history, past, present and future. Surely some of the most dramatic moments on offer would concern lives that would’ve been entirely different if only a letter had not been lost — or if an e-mail hadn’t been wrongly sent to a spam folder, never to be retrieved. The world is rife with misfortunes that might befall humans, though the odds are against it, and worrying about this one variety is surely unwise. But I find it a particularly maddening kind of circumstance to ponder, for reasons I haven’t entirely figured out, and were I prone to obsessive anxiety, rather than merely experiencing it once in a great while, I imagine it is this kind of thing that would plague me.
On a related not, I can never fathom the mindset of those occasional lottery winners who, million dollar ticket in hand, claim their prize by mailing the winning slip off to the state lottery office, rather than immediately putting the ticket in a Ziploc baggy, sealing it, putting that baggy inside another baggy, inserting all that into a briefcase, wrapping duct tape around said briefcase, grasping the sealed attache tightly to one’s chest (handcuffs would only attract would be thieves!), and having a trusted friend drive a Volvo sedan to the state lottery office.