If modern audiences everywhere, presidential debate organisers in America, and the late great naysayer Judas Iscariot know anything, it’s that all things come in threes. All things. Whether they’re good, bad, or indifferently mediocre. Should they be mortifying, hallucinatory, or stunningly death-defying. If they are decadent, flatulent or just appallingly low key.
People expect life to present itself in triplicate, which explains one of the most common questions I currently face. After the obvious ‘What did you do to your leg?’, and the curious ‘How exactly?’, people familiar with my year thus far often conclude with the deeply disconcerting…
‘I wonder what the Third Thing will be?’
Most humans like a bit of structure to their world. Some of us like a lot of it. A system by which to assess what’s happened, and gauge what’s likely to come. I guess the rules of storytelling are as good a system as any.
And yet… there’s something so utterly ominous about the insistence that there should be a Third Thing. I understand wanting to give purpose to shitty timing, but… couldn’t we not?
Here’s my Thing, my plea if you will: can’t we count the small things? Add them all together? The accrued stuff that topped off recent events… like spending a month incapable of independently exiting a house filled with photos of your recently deceased father – can that not be the Third Thing?
All the focus on the BIG things seems to remove from the little moments, devaluing them like so much window dressing to melodramatic main events. Here’s to the small stuff then, the minor interruptions to regular programming…
|A sampling of my convalescence wardrobe|
- To four weeks spent wearing Finding Dory t-shirts with ‘Adorkable’ writ large across them, because Mother Painefull knows you like comic book superhero branding, and figured a blue fish urging you to ‘Just Keep Swimming’ was pretty much the same thing.
- To your doctor awkwardly asking why you have glitter on your injured, stitched up knee… and having no reasonable explanation.
- To plucking the patches of hair on your leg that were left behind by Mother Painefull after the whole involuntary shaving incident.
- To finding distraction in the realisation that the nerve damage to your leg means you can pluck it and not feel a thing.
- To discovering your formal referral letter from your surgeon calls you “This unfortunate 31 year old lady”.
- To the watch list I assume my housemates are now on after they failed to bat an eyelid to the request: “I need garbage bags, duct tape, and a container for used syringes.”
- To the kind hearts who sent flowers, the soul mates who brought chocolates, and the legends who posted books.
I know what you’re thinking – with the metal on the inside, and the lack of physical pain on the outside, I’m basically a Bond villain in waiting. Or you’re thinking none of those things is technically the Third Thing.
I get it. Packaging events into trio formation is a deeply human response – it’s attempting to assign logic to life’s random luck. It’s noble. Thoughtful. A bit fucked.
But if none of those little moments are big enough, I’ve decided the Third Thing is all of them. I’d like that.
And with one storytelling convention behind me, I can at long last move on to the next.
Get me to a Training Montage.
P.S. For realists playing at home, the Third Thing was also possibly when I arrived back in Melbourne 51 days later than planned… to discover my car wouldn’t start, then spent $300 getting it going, then over $800 getting it out of the carpark. Then the engine cut out on the other side of the boom gate.