TITLE: No Wind is the Right Wind*
DATE: 12/28/2004 10:30:00 PM
GALLE, Sri Lanka (Reuters) - Stricken countries on the Indian Ocean worked swiftly on Wednesday to bury thousands of bodies as experts warned disease could kill as many people as the 68,000 already dead from the violent crush of Sunday's tsunami.This is the thing. I'm a highly, ridiculously, ludicrously sensitive person. When you get down to my deepest layer, my skin is about as thick as a salamander. I've carefully cultivated my own cynicism and pessimism as a kind of false protection against the things--and sometimes that's just, to quote the book I'm currently reading, the sheer fact of everything--that hurt me.
I want to emphasize here that in no way to I see myself as the victim of the events, and I deplore those who, grasping for attention, exaggerate their perplexity at public disasters; what I mean is that despite years of therapy and medication, there will always be something unusual and dangerous about the way my mind works, and among the things that do not cause, but can lead to a more serious state of mind are all-encompassing breaking-news stories of human disaster.
So, when something like this happens--Columbine, Oklahoma City, 9/11, and now the tsunami--the only way I can realistically get through my day without constantly obsessing about it, and in turn, letting it suck me down into a maelstrom of darkness, is to think, very deliberately, about the comparitively tiny things that make me unequivocally happy.
Long conversations over cigarettes and coffee at Denny's in Nashua with friends about politics, religion, television, movies, and life in general, safe to be as ignorant, unrealistic, idealistic, cynical as we want to be in the safety of a diner booth;
Waking up next to Stephen, at the same time he wakes up, because we both have the day off for the first time in more than six months;
Watching my video of Game 4 of the 2004 World Series again, watching the ball hit by Edgar Renteria bounce back to Keith Foulke, realizing watching the video how sudden it was, how Boston collectively was the same as Foulke, surprised and jaw-droppingly happy, the gift of the win just plopping into his glove;
The Patriots bouncing back from a humiliating loss against the Miami Dolphins last week by, in turn, humiliating the New York Jets;
Eating Friendly cheeseburgers my father made out on the grill despite the fact that it's December.
And they're all so little, so trivial, and I really try to steer away from the obvious big ones like the fact that I'm safe and warm and have enough to eat because that just brings me back around to the people who don't, and why'd this happen, and why'd it happen there and not here and does this mean there is a God after all and he/she is angry.
My main thought when I contemplate the disasters is: I'm sorry. My mooning and moping does nothing for anyone. I am ashamed of myself. I am, essentially, undeserving of my own comfort, happiness and safety. I have no more earned them than the wailing women in India earned a great and terrible wave to sweep them away. That's what I mean--and it's the deadly thought I avoid, or I die myself...or, best-case scenario, go back to the nuthouse, do not pass Go, do not collect $200.
And who does that help?
*"When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind." ~Seneca