Well, the big news is that Savannah finally walked out of Hannah’s life. While none of us were present for that final moment before the door slammed shut behind Savannah, in our minds we could all hear Hannah’s characteristic wail: “But I didn’t mean it!” And that was precisely the problem: She really had no idea what she intended, in regard to anything! She was very much like that gift that you get at Christmas that comes without instructions… a complete mystery, especially to herself. There was the time when she washed Savannah’s expensive cashmere sweater in hot water, and then threw it into an even hotter dryer. When she was finished not even a Barbie doll could wear it! Holding out the accusing article, Savannah raged; Hannah cried, “But I didn’t mean it!” There was the time that Hannah went on a six-hour drinking binge, ran out of booze, got into the car to go get more, and ran over the neighbor’s dog. “But I didn’t mean it!” And there was the time when she went into the department store dressing room, put on 3 outfits and then tried to walk out of the store without paying for them. As Security led her away she kept whimpering, “But I didn’t mean it.”
The fact is that our actions arise out of our inner moral system, and the fantasies in which we indulge can give us some insight into the values of that system, were we inclined to know. The problem can be, however, that sometimes we don’t want to know about those desires that our heart should not want. So we avoid self-reflection, and instead, offer up excuses for why things went awry. The problem with this approach to the mystery of ourselves is that putting our awareness at a distance from our heart often leaves us without an inner rudder, much like that toy that bumps into the wall, shoots off in another direction, seeking yet another object off of which to bounce. It can be a discomforting thing to realize that what one wants does not line up with the vision that one has of oneself; running away from the discomfort of that realization, however, is not the answer. One’s inner value system can be changed, but only with attention and will: If we eat a dish often enough, what we once automatically rejected will become familiar and can, possibly, even become a favorite.
Eventually, we heard from Savannah about “the last straw”. When she went to pay for a purchase with her debit card it was declined for “insufficient funds.” She immediately went online and discovered their checking account, which should have held around $4150, was empty. Completely empty. Once home Savannah confronted Hannah who, after trying to dodge the interrogation, admitted that she had taken the money, went to a nearby store with slot machines… and lost every last cent! Savannah threw her luggage into her car while Hannah yelled from the living room window: “But I didn’t mean it!” And that was that.
Every snowflake in an avalanche pleads “not guilty”; nonetheless, if the skier is dead… someone is to blame.