As the news from Japan daily grows more and more frightening, we see a surge of unscrupulous optimism. That being: Our tendency, as a species, to make up tall tales, in order to enjoy a false sense of security.
A friend invites others in San Francisco to come here where it’s safe. But we in Northwest Arkansas are not far from a nuclear reactor we passed the other day on our way to a gig – and we just had a 4.7 quake, not far from that reactor, a week or two ago –
We blithely write on our blogs – never noticing that our friends at WordPress battle daily to save us from hacker bot-highjackers.
Arkansas has the most amazing spider population. Look at this web: On the ground!
Here’s a challenge: To hold paradox. We are simply not safe – and yet we simply cannot go on without a sense of safety.
I watched Bugs wrestle with this the other day.
I’ve been wondering, for some time now, about bald spots on his back legs. I haven’t seen him chewing on himself out of anxiety or anything like that – so is he wearing out his fur because he sits for hours on his haunches, on hard surfaces, watching Cat TV out the window?
The other day I bought him a bed so he could watch in ease and comfort, and maybe the fur on his back legs could grow back.
Look at this beauty.
I put Bugs’s blankie on it, so it would smell familiar.
Here’s what he went through, on his way to a sense of safety.
What the hell is that?
No paw of mine is going anywhere near it.
If I want to turn around, this is what I do.
Well maybe my front paws might take a chance. But I’m definitely not happy about this.
My back ones? Can’t see much of an improvement.
Well maybe my haunches. But my front end will have to gnaw on the plant.
[The next day:]
I did it. No biggie.
(You can really see the bald-spot here.)
But, still, if I want to get some really meaningful REMs:
Some folks tell themselves stories of safety, thinking themselves safer than others. Others talk about disaster as punishment for sins they themselves did not commit.
I prefer coping strategies I’ve noticed lately:
A friend battles a brain injury, in the hospital for weeks on end; her husband writes of her spunk in fighting for survival there, as she once fought a corrupt Mexican cop.
An acquaintance, coping with a cancer diagnosis, writes of meeting that challenge with more resilience and internal resources, and not disappearing into anxiety or depression or despair.
A blogmate writes of her companion-animals’ quirks, in a loving and reassuring tone.
Other blogmates post links to donate relief-money.
To each, his or her own. We all are, essentially and fundamentally, in a mess. But perhaps the mess, regarded — aided by empathetic others and with the reassuring attitude of our choice — can become bearable. Or at least less-overwhelming.