I recently started reading Anderson Cooper's book Dispatches from the Edge. Cooper suffered the loss of his father at a young age. He discuss the disconnect he felt later in life from emotion as he viewed carnage from the areas he went to report. He describes being there and seeing unspeakable images, and yet being emotionally distant.
Do all humans have this ability - to be physically present but emotionally unavailable? Does great tragedy have to occur to acquire this talent of sort or does basic human hurt teach us to protect ourselves through the use of emotional distance?
I also just finished reading Japanland - A Year in Search of Wa by Karin Muller, a quick read about a woman searching for harmony and focus while living and filming a documentary in Japan. During this year, the author meets a mime who is also a foreigner. The two discuss how the Japanese are experts at wearing masks - "the successful ones know exactly which ones to wear and when . . . They're comfortable admiring the beauty of the surface." Ignoring the stereotypical aspect of this discussion, it appears that most people wear asks. The subconscious choices we make when we present ourselves to the world - viciously guarding the warts and weaknesses so they can not be used to embarrass or hurt us.
The emotional detachment described by Cooper grows when someone we trust and love who forces off our mask to reveal the ugly with no intent but to rub our faces in our weaknesses. Two nights ago on the phone, I wish I had the courage to respond to the person who felt it necessary to point out my warts and weaknesses in such a hurtful way. It's not that I am unaware of them. This year has been a public display of failure on so many levels and while my mask is certainly in place when I leave the front door, my mind has not stopped asking how I have managed to become so lost. I certainly have not suffered the losses that Cooper reports on which makes me even weaker because I should be contented with all I have, and yet I am lost and longing for direction.
Instead, I said nothing in response to the exposure, ignoring the dig. Just emotionally stepping back again.