Quarters on IceI’m typically quiet in a crowd, not often interjecting my opinion and preferring instead to stand back and listen. But if specifically asked what I know, I’ll tell you. And I’ll be quick to site the sources, too, because nothing makes me crazier than hearing someone speak with authority on something that they really don’t know.

I recently overheard a young girl tell her father about someone else’s injury, “The doctor says the swelling could go down as early as tomorrow. But I highly doubt that.” Maybe it was her eye roll that did it for me, because as her father simply nodded, I thought, “Why do you doubt that, and especially highly? Do you know more than the doctor, or know something the doctor doesn’t?”

And then there’s this: fingerprints on glass. It boggles the mind how others don’t see these things in their nightmares. Seeing smudges on windows sends me running for the Windex.

And, the good citer that I am, I know exactly where I picked up these aversions. I worked in financial services for years, and my employer then would daily tout the importance of knowing the facts. “Get it in writing,” he’d say about any rules and stipulations for moving money around, so that we could avoid making any mistakes that would cost the client money or a loss in benefits. We made no assumptions. Unknown answers were to be clearly stated, “I don’t know. But I’ll find out.” No decision was ever based on a mere, “I think so.” It stuck with me.

And as for the glass, well, that I got from my mother. My sister and I were never allowed to touch glass growing up, and if any handprints appeared by magic (and they always appeared by magic), we went running for the Windex to clean it up before Mom saw it. It was only a few years ago that I realized that handprints on glass don’t bother me. What bothers me is that my mom will see them. But the handprints themselves? Big deal.

The poet John Donne wrote in his Meditation XVII, “No man is an island…” Such interconnection means we won’t get through life completely unaffected by one another. There’s no need, even, to brace ourselves for the coming wave. Even the hardest block of ice on the coldest day of the year will bear the impression of what touches it.

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. To learn more about her current writing projects, or for ways to donate toward their completion, see JodyBrown.com/writing.