Wish I was there . .
My passport is ready and I can be packed in minutes.

15 February 2008

"Dispatches from the Edge"

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.

3 comments:

Ms Mac said...

I think a lot of professionals have to have a certain ability to emotionally distance themselves from pain and suffering. Otherwise, how would Oncologists manage to deliver all that bad news without turning to drink, or social workers stop themselves from removing babies from violent households and taking them home to care for them?

As long as you know when to apply this life skill when you need to (and I think in your case, you needed to take a step back when talking to the insensitive party on the other end of the phone line) and not use it to block the ones you love most from your emotional needs, then it's a skill to stand you in good stead in tough times.

Just call me Dr Phil. ;-)

Rosie said...

It sounds as though you did the right thing to ignore those hurtful remarks and not rise to the bait. Everybody feels lost sometimes, especially when ill and tired...but it passes...and sometimes you even feel alright for a while...before you feel lost again!

RennyBA said...

I feel lost sometimes too - so your not alone there out in the world. Life goes up and down, otherwise we wouldn't notice we are living.
Try to count the good things in life and look forward - so change focus - it helps for me.

Wishing you a good week ahead :-)