We trust that the sun will rise in the east, and that the day will be 24 hours long.
We trust that the earth will not shake under our feet, and that the ocean will stay in its place, rising and falling within its tidal bounds. Sometimes this trust is betrayed – there is an earthquake, there is a tsunami.
All of our decisions are based on trust.
In California, we trust that between April and November, it is safe to plan a picnic or a camping trip or an outdoor wedding. The weather will be fine. Once in a while, there is an untimely diversion of the jet stream, and we have YouTube videos of drenched brides and soggy wedding cake.
We trust that between November and March, we will have rain. Rain that replenishes the snowpack in the Sierra, delighting skiers, snowboarders, owners of second homes at Tahoe and children of families who rent those homes for a weekend. Rain that makes our hills in December look like sleeping giants under softly curving blankets of green, tempting us to send pictures eastward to rouse the envy of our snowbound eastern relatives.
Sometimes a resilient, high-pressure ridge deflects the rainclouds, and we have drought, burning our hills into barren gray and tempting our eastern relatives to ask us if they should bring their own water when they come to visit.
We trust in government to provide safe roads, safe airways, safe airports, safe city centers, safe food and drink, safe industrial practices, safe working conditions. Sometimes this trust is betrayed and we have government shutdowns, locked-down schools, grounded aircraft, epidemics of salmonella.
We trust in colleagues. Sometimes our trust is betrayed – there are moles in the FBI, there are backstabbers at the office, there are businesses that fail and paychecks that bounce.
We trust in fellow citizens to follow the rules of the road, to pay attention while driving, to get their children vaccinated, to stay home from work when they are ill.
We trust in neighbors to watch our homes but not invade them.
We trust in family. If I jump from the wall, Daddy will catch me. If I hurt my knee, Mommy will make it better. If I need a place to stay, my sister will welcome me. Sometimes our trust is betrayed. There are abusive parents, bitter divorces, family feuds, estranged children.
We trust in friends. A triumph can be shared. A secret will go no further. Sometimes our trust is betrayed. When that happens, we feel anger, bitterness, resentment. The foundations of our world are twisted. We blame others for our pain. We feel we can never expose ourselves to this kind of pain again.
But if we cannot trust, we cannot love. We cannot laugh, or be childlike, or share any kind of intimacy. A world without trust is a world without smiles, without community, where all the headlines are grim.
My New Year’s wish: May you trust freely, and may your trust be well-earned. And may it rain.