Daniel linked a blog post on Facebook yesterday: Everyone I know is Broken Hearted. I checked it out because I am interested in how people talk about broken heartedtness. I skim read it and then went back and read it again. Thought about it while I was swimming.
Josh (the writer) feels that the best of his generation (yes I am referencing Howl) are miserable and achingly sad. He starts by talking about own personal sadness and then frames it in generational terms and some of the most intractable world problems. I share much of his perspective although we are of different generations and he has not much regard for mine with our "failed rhetoric". (Dude. We didn't all become yuppies.) I thought as much about why I was thinking about the post as I did the post. A case could be made that Josh is a relatively entitled white guy having a tantrum. I'm not making that case.
Although I often resent the fact that I know way more about people elevated in popular culture than I should considering how insipid I feel they are, Josh goes a bit far for me in his imagining about what could/should happen to them. And this is an example of how I found what he was saying full of insight and shrouded in unprocessed ill will.
We do that.
I do that.
There are days when something falls off the counter and I react as if gravity has it out for me personally. I try to make a joke out that feeling but I really am that petulant and self absorbed.
Years ago I was working in restaurant owned by two friends of mine. One of the friends had what felt like her whole family working there. One of her brothers was extremely nervous. His nerves made him a bit slow and in a restaurant slow is a problem. I had a friend working with me one night. I think we had a big party or something. The brother dropped a tray full of something. I don't even remember what. I remember it was something I had worked on and was going to need to do again and I reacted with anger and frustration. My friend bent over and started cleaning it up.
That moment changed me. I knew I resented having the brother as the guy who was supposed to help me. He wasn't able. I knew I was working hard and not making a lot of money and was tired. But I was also mean. My friend just did what needed to be done. It was her first response. Not hate. Not self pity. She just took care of things. I'm not saying that I never reacted poorly again in similar situations but I had that image of her grabbing a broom and a dust pan while I slammed something and swore. Swore at a guy with nerves so ragged he trembled.
I'm not saying Josh should find some thing to do. I hate that. I loathe the whole be positive, find your bliss, be grateful, you deserve this yada yada. Josh is doing what he needs to do. He's venting. He's brave enough to do it in public where people will spell check him and correct his syntax and focus on one point ignoring the context.
Text. We try to put our hearts in text. Sometimes it works better than other times.
Before there was a 9/11 there was Pearl Harbor. And that generation reacted the way they did. Different time. Radios and newsreels not Twitter and Facebook but the same quality. Something terrible happens and it hurts.
I reread the post today so I could write my reaction. And then I wondered why I was reacting at all.
I guess. Maybe. Because I really am interested in how we feel our way through these times. The news lately. My own failings. My loneliness. I know I gotta find. Some kind of peace of mind.
Josh knows that too. I don't think the hope makes the sadness worth while. I think the sadness is worth while. Of course we're sad. Of course we're aching. We are if we have lived and risked and lost. The broken hearted are the ones who are paying attention. And the real work is in the moment when you get out of the bed, eat your cereal and get on with the day. That's the moment when you choose to hold the sorrow. Not ignore it but hold it. And do what needs to be done. Sweep up the mess. Get on with your job.
Maybe something wonderful will happen.
Maybe it won't.