Mt Pleasant News
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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 7, 2016

Speculation — the enemy of calmness and serenity

By Steph Tahtinen

By STEPH TAHTINEN

Mt. Pleasant News

This past weekend I was cleaning my apartment and watching the BBC miniseries adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford when a particular scene caught my attention. The town’s carpenter had suffered a broken arm. As the gossip-loving ladies sat around the fire discussing the possibility of an amputation, another neighbor came in and informed them that the doctor had changed from his usual red jacket to a black one — which of course must mean the patient was dead. In the hysterics that ensued, one of the few sensible women silenced the group by saying, “Speculation is the enemy of calm.”

How true that is.

This scene that had played out on my TV Saturday night was reminiscent of a scene that had played out in my own life a few days before. I won’t go into too many details, as I don’t want to invade privacy that is not mine, but my sister was very sick for the past week. We found out on Tuesday that she had been to the hospital the previous two days, and then was going back to see another doctor on Wednesday.

Wednesday night, neither Mom nor I had heard from her. As the night dragged on and there was still no word, we took turns calling and leaving messages. Our very active imaginations got the best of us, and we started to panic.

Speculation is the enemy of calm.

I imagined her lying unconscious at home, where she would eventually be discovered half-eaten by wild dogs. Or maybe she had passed out on her drive home from the doctor and was lying in a ditch somewhere, where she would eventually be discovered half-eaten by wild dogs. Or maybe she was so sick they kept her at the hospital, where I doubted that wild dogs would have much of an impact on the story.

That last option was ruled out, however, when Mom called the hospital and found out that she was not a patient there. Although finding out that she was not in the hospital provided some comfort, in a way it was worse because there was no known explanation.

Finally at about 10 p.m., my sister called to ask if all those missed phone calls were from that day. It turns out she was just sleeping and her phone wasn’t working and didn’t ring. Although she was still exhausted and ill, she was starting the road towards recovery. We had been panicking about nothing.

Speculation is the enemy of calm.

Facing the unknown was terrifying at the time, but I’ve realized over this past week that I’ve gained a bit of wisdom from this experience, mostly brought on by the insight of Elizabeth Gaskell (or one of the screenwriters, depending on whether the line was written in the book or for the screenplay).

I was speculating about the situation with my sister. Instead of trying to come up with reasonable explanations, I behaved like the ladies in Cranford and was overreacting. My mind invented all these crazy ideas and I began to panic. In the end, it didn’t do me any good. It would have been much better to keep a level head. I hope I’ve learned my lesson from this experience. I hope that if I’m ever confronted with a similar situation — and I’m sure I will be at some point in my life — I’ll try not to jump to such wild conclusions. Although that’s easier said in hindsight than done at the time.