Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Suffer, Little Children

No, I do not want little children to suffer. It’s just that I was considering the difference between being childlike and being childish. I truly like to think of myself as having retained my childlike views of life, but too often—at the moment (yesterday, when you read this), for example—I am more childish than childlike. When things do not happen exactly as I expect or want them to happen, I throw emotional tantrums that would do any two-year-old proud. Fortunately, these are usually internal, but they are not pleasant. I hate them, in fact…which does nothing to prevent me from having them, or from being largely unable to control them until they pass like a violent thunderstorm, rumbling and grumbling into the distance.

I am downloading…let’s make that trying to download…some photos for a book video trailer. Each photo is purchased separately. The first photo I downloaded and lost somehow. So I had to buy it again. The second photo I bought was in the process of downloading when I got an “Error” message. So I shall probably have to buy it again, too. But rather than go through this with the third photo (I need about a dozen) I threw a mental hissy-fit and just closed out the site completely.

Not having slept well last night for reasons I will not bore you with here (but may well crop up on a future blog), I decided that I would just stay in today. Not go anywhere. Not even to my ritual go-out-for-coffee with Gary. I put on my pajamas and settled in for a day of work.

My friend Norm called. He wants me to help him move some furniture, and haul Christmas ornaments up from his storage room. Today. I love Norm. Really, I do. But, damn it, I do not want to get dressed, shovel the snow off my car, probably lose my parking space when I return, run the four or five miles over, etc. Can we say “Petty!” and “Shame on you!”, boys and girls?

A degree of spontaneity is a good thing. But I really, really prefer to know in advance if I’m expected to go somewhere or do something. But I really couldn’t say no to Norm. I know he would help me any time I asked him to. He once drove all the way from Chicago to Mayo to drive me home to Pence (nearly a 1,000 mile trip for him) after my release from my cancer-related neck surgery, and he did it without my asking. So how can I say no when he needs something? But, I mean, couldn’t we move the furniture and haul out the ornaments tomorrow or the day after, okay? A little advance notice is all I ask.

And then, of course, I am awash in guilt for being such a lousy friend and so petty about taking time out of my day.

Being childlike is charming and a quality I always admire in people. Being childish (“It’s mine!” “No, you can’t have it.” “No, I won’t and you can’t make me!” Pouting. Figurative foot stomping. Mentally throwing things. Swearing. Seething with totally out-of-proportion anger) is not. So how is it that I can realize this with such calm detachment, yet insist on flying off into a fury the very next time anything happens the way I do not want it to happen?

Writing is most certainly cathartic, as this blog is proving. Okay, so blowing off steam is healthy. But why do I have to blow it at you? Excellent question, to which I have no answer other than a lame “because I have never been one to suffer in silence.” Believe me, if I get a paper cut, I will tell anyone I can button-hole about it, complete with a detailed accounting of how it happened, the excruciating pain involved, how I nobly overcame the agony, etc. What is the point in being terribly brave and noble if no one knows you’re being terribly brave an noble?

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