The truth is that this blog has almost turned into a part-time job for me. The kind of part-time job, I mean, where you don't get paid anything and yet you are required to carve a huge chunk out of the cheese wheel of your time trying to string together words in interesting and/or informative permutations. It ain't always easy, as I learned this month when I began to fall precariously behind in my real salaried, soul-deadening job. It's more fun, to be sure, nattering on about House Hunters or Mariah Carey's cavernous high-occupancy vagina, but it just doesn't put bread on the table. It's very strange to me that they pay me for processing invoices (which is something any motivated primate could do), but they don't pay me for my musings, which are well-nigh priceless. (I don't mean priceless as in invaluable. I mean priceless as in not having a price attached to them. Yet. If someone would like to attach a price to them, I'm willing to field any offers. This is a tag sale for my paragraphs.)
So yesterday there was another mass shooting, and I thought to myself—but not in a sleazy, opportunistic way—that I should really be writing about events like these. I place a sort of moral pressure on myself—that if I don't comment on these tragedies then it must mean that I really don't give a good goddamn about dead kids. But I do care. At least abstractly. It's difficult to care about words and numbers, and '18 children dead' doesn't quite register as a hard-and-fast reality to me. I don't have a proper sense of what that even means. Maybe it's because I don't have children myself, but I don't think that's the reason... I actually believe that my imagination refuses to travel down certain roads, sensing that they are dangerous and won't shepherd me to a desired destination. I don't really want to feel (in a full or direct way) what the deaths of eighteen kids feel like. I know what death is. I know what children are. I know what murder is. I'll just set the pieces of the crime out over there on the floor, but I won't assemble them into a whole. There's no catharsis to be had in experiencing that level of misfortune. We have to kid ourselves that we can find something—anything at all—in every negative experience to take from it: a lesson, a perspective, a memento mori... But there's really nothing there. If you aren't aware that everything can be taken from you at any moment—suddenly and irrevocably—then you're profoundly delusional. Catastrophe 'reminds' us, I suppose, but what instruction can it offer? You'll hug your children tonight, but what about next year? You can't live your whole life in a heightened state of tragic awareness; on the one hand, it probably isn't possible while retaining one's sanity, and on the other hand, that kind of life isn't really life at all.
Eventually we let down our guards again. We take things for granted. It isn't a failing of our character; it's just that natural disposition of living life. We can't be expected to incessantly confront our contingency. We can't realistically brace ourselves for disaster around every corner. A lived life is defined by its carelessness. Living is what you're doing when you're not really paying attention. That's why it happens so fast. I would tell you to enjoy it while you have it—but you'll only really enjoy it when you don't concern yourself with enjoying it.
I'm glad you came back before I resorted to some kind of drastic attention whoring.ReplyDelete
I don't know... Drastic attention whoring can be interesting...Delete
I blacked out twice yesterday. Once while walking down a flight of stairs and the second time as IDelete
was attempting to leave a comment on your blog. Punishment for not feeling genuine sadness at
the news of the deaths of these twenty children.
I had actually planned on commenting with a single exclamation point. Deliberated between a
question mark exclamation point combo but in the end couldn't muster the energy to be so drastic
and let the idea at length fizzle away in boredom.
Actually David, what you should be doing is writing for a living. I have a friend who is an exceptional writer and started writing a blog. She's now being paid for each interesting article she writes. Truth be told, people NEED writers like you to laugh and feel inspired. My friend's name is Larissa Archer. Her blog is http://larissaarcher.com/. Check out her blog. She has contacts with Huffington Post, SF Weekly, etc.ReplyDelete
Face it. You're talented. You must write. And often.
Thanks, Niki! Now how much are you going to pay me to write? :)Delete
I will check out your friend's blog...
I made it through the whole day without having to suppress an influx of moisture rising to the surface of my ocular cavities...and then I read paragraph 4 of this blog. Grrr.ReplyDelete
It's true—anything can happen to any one of us at any time. Life is not scripted. Twenty kids were murdered on Friday morning (20, not 18, as it turns out). But those twenty deaths could have been caused by other forces: illness, car accident, whatever. Would that have made it more palatable? Probably not to the parents of those kids. We try to look for answers, but there are none. Not when things aren't scripted. But you are right; we are fortunate to be built with a coping mechanism where our capacity to grieve is limited. We will move on and forget about hugging our kids (so to speak) and that's how we'll know we've begun to heal.
For such a depressing incident, you've really managed to share some much-needed optimism. Thanks for that.
I remember in the past, when terrible things happened (both globally and personally), I said to myself that I was going to really work hard not to take things for granted, but now I don't think that's a particularly healthy way to think. I mean, if you are abusing and neglecting the people you love, then sure... you should definitely get your ass in gear and start treating people right. But for most of us, that isn't the case. We're just living our lives—enjoying the good times, complaining about the bad times—and expressing our love for others in the best way we know how. I guess I discovered how ludicrous an aggressive plan of 'not taking things for granted' is when I started to think about what that would mean, practically speaking. The thing is that I couldn't really think of many practical and realistic things I could do to make myself feel as though I were living life more fully (and appreciatively).Delete
It's stupid to even compare and contrast these things, but I'm guessing another kind of death would have been preferably to the children's parents—a quicker one, a less frightening one, or one where they got to comfort their children at the end and to say goodbye (in some way)...
Yeah, actively living one's life in a way that 'doesn't take it for granted' sounds stressful, exhausting, and frankly not very fun.Delete