Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Spoiled Milk

I've been accused of ruining an entire thread on someone else's site. Since I kinda think they might be right, I'm no longer going to post in that thread, or on the topic involved. Not there, anyway. I do have more to say, though I anticipate I'll get it out of my system soon.

For days now, I’ve not been able to put my finger on why ManhattanBrendan’s initial replies to the 9/11 post bothered me so much, since I am hip to the fundamental ideas behind his insistence on recalling the Collateral Damage^TM, and I agree that Perspective^TM is vital.

It came upon me this morning, quite by accident. I found a piece of mail in a box from my old house, which ended up in the storage garage I shared for a time with my current spouse, which is now in our new (to us) garage. A letter from a creditor addressed to my ex. I hope Sears has gotten their pound of flesh (though I doubt it).

The problem, for me, with someone pointing out “It could be -- and is -- much worse” is that
1. It’s overstating the obvious and
2. This immediate call for perspective invalidates a person’s experience, and also in this case, a person’s remembrance of an experience.
It reminds me of said ex, who often following physical abuse would decry, “Well, at least I didn’t break any bones/knock out any teeth/kill you.” Sure, these extremes never happened. Though I was thankful I hadn’t lost the tooth that had broken through the skin of my mouth and made its way through to the other side, forming a strange little bloody tear through which I could stick my tongue, somehow knowing it could have been worse (and is worse for others), didn’t make me feel any better. I had never been punched in the face before, after all.

When I transport myself back to that exact moment, and its immediate aftermath, I remember thinking only of myself. My frame of reference for that sort of thing was very small. The current American frame of reference to this kind of tragedy is small, too. And while I support the desire behind many of your posts, Brendan, I don’t support your methods. Harsh reality and cruel truth are important and necessary (the unexamined life is a life half-lived). I'm no stranger to Doing The Right Thing Even Though It Hurts (I flushed my mouth for many days with full strength salt water because even though it made me cry I knew it would help me heal).
Being a vessel for something larger than yourself sometimes turns you into a great big wet blanket. You are Ricky Ricardo to my Lucy.

I’m also left thinking that you can’t put a shelf-life on your feelings. It’s like you are attempting to pour everyone’s mental & emotional milk down the drain, just because of the expiry stamp, without at least taking a whiff from under the cap, first. Perhaps I’m turning, but I’m not curdled yet.


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