slow motion

Posted on: November 9, 2019


I am a slow learner. It’s not that I don’t see what’s coming or that I don’t hear what people are saying. It’s just that it takes me a great deal of time to take the foreseen threat all in and get ready to take a hit. Once I come across something stressful I find myself moving and thinking in slow motion, playing for time. I’m rather a freezer or a flighter to quote a classical reference from ethology. Never a fighter. I’m a hopeless procrastinator, so kicking the can down the road comes naturally to me. Hoping against all odds that the bitter pill will be taken away from me. But it never does and I know it all too well, I am no fool – anything but. Eventually the painful truth catches up with me. Eventually I give in to the gathering storm.

At any point in time I have a couple of unpleasant realities and truths I am in no hurry to acknowledge, even though like I said I am not oblivious to them and I know I will bow to truth eventually. Looking back at my recent years I realized there’s a common thread running through these off-putting truths, a leitmotiv easy to discern, so here they are:

Friendship. For some people friendship extends only to the point where you burst their bubble. Once their frail narrative is exposed they solve the cognitive dissonance that comes with it not by aligning themselves with truth but by deserting the friendship and leaving. If walking on eggs was never your strength you know you would eventually get tired of dancing around the truth. As much as you try to avoid speaking truthfully outright at first, sooner or later you put your foot in it. You might as well stop even trying and be straightforward from the very beginning. If a friendship requires calling a spade something else than a spade then maybe that friendship is not for you or is not worth saving. While it’s true that bursting someone’s bubble and ripping off the mask people decide to put on for whatever reasons is none of our business it’s also true that we cannot distort the truth to the point where that friendship becomes a farce.

Death. It’s in the order of nature that children survive their parents. It’s natural that parents go first. Nevertheless, if you find yourself in a position where you raise a pet like a member of your family, that law of nature is broken and the order reversed. Eventually all these beautiful creatures are leaving and contrary to the order of nature parents survive their offspring. You subject yourself to a devastating event for there’s nothing more agonizing in this life than burying your child. I knew this all along, from the moment I kept her, but there was no need to dwell on this unnecessarily so I pushed that nagging apprehension to the back of my mind for years. Cancer short-circuited this convenience abruptly and left me no respite. Cancer is a monstrous machine that turns future to present. It brings that end from an indefinite future and makes it real. It makes it now. You can’t procrastinate cancer for long for cancer is like a nuclear bomb to your conscience. It doesn’t give a shit that you are not ready to face the dire reality just yet.

Family. For some siblings kinship ends where the inheritance begins. The idea of relatives fighting over a house or a plot of land is so preposterous and alien to me that I never thought this could possibly happen to me. And so when it did it shook me to the core. Coming from a rather close sister and one that happens to obey the same God made all this even more appalling. As a result I spent a couple of years struggling to come to terms with her pettiness and meanness of spirit. I was in no way ready to accept that people close to you  can be sheer evil and do you harm on purpose so I kept trying to justify her sordid behaviour in any reasonable ways. Given that I am a rather judgemental beast I should be quite proud of my self-restraint. Once again I procrastinated accepting the obvious truth: being born by the same mother is irrelevant to ethics.  Consanguinity doesn’t mean we all share the same moral compass. Your closest kin can be farther than a stranger. Trying to empathize with people when not at their best and making excuses for them is one (honourable) thing, seeing goodness in some deeds where there’s none is entirely another matter. At the end of the day, you are not responsible for their reputation but your own and so you shouldn’t see things through the coloured lens of your feelings for them. A bad thing is a bad thing and the fact that is perpetrated by your kin or someone you love doesn’t make it a good thing.

Love. Some people marry down and some people marry up. Some people are better than others, for we are not equal, obviously. It’s a common fact of life. But it’s also true that in many cases people marry down and marry up at the same time. It’s just that it happens on different levels. Because in these many cases, people are neither exceptional nor awful throughout. They are better than their partners in some respects and worse than them in other respects. So unbalanced relationships are more common than we think and that’s perfectly fine. The only time when this becomes critical is when you marry someone beneath yourself on something that is fundamental to you. For instance, I don’t give a damn about money, wealth, professional status, paygrade, education degrees, age, even looks up to a point, but I do give one about intellect, reliability, morals, set of values, authenticity etc. If I happen to enter a relationship that is not well balanced on the later, on the things that really matter to me, then it could be a dealbreaker. I could never stress enough the importance of having the same set of values and worshipping the same gods (i.e. admiring the same things). In my past relationships these differences put a huge strain on them and made them vulnerable to the point people felt like walking away. You might find in the great works of literature that love trumps everything, but in real life, as I found in my last relationships, social ambition trumps love. Different set of values leads to different paths in life.




As you can easily tell, the common theme running through all of these foreseen outcomes is loss. In the first case I tried to delay the loss of a friend by being less outspoken at first and handling him with gloves for a while. In the second I tried to put off dealing with loss and death but cancer shattered my oblivion and left me no choice in the matter. In the third case I tried to avoid the loss of a sister by sugar-coating her transgression and making excuses for her. In the last one I tried to avoid the loss of a lover by letting the dust settle when the feel of inadequacy kicked in.

When loss starts to rear its ugly head and there’s nothing you can do to prevent it from happening you could throw yourself into it and be done with it. You can put your suicide vest on and detonate yourself. Or you hold fire and brace yourself for the expected loss. You freeze. You go in sloooow motion. At the end of the day, if you are a believer a miracle could still happen. You make haste slowly for “the hurrier you go, the behinder you get“…




(9/11 – freeze response)


“Two nurses led me into a cold, gray room with a big mirror, morning light. They asked me to undress. It seemed excessive. I did not understand why I needed to reveal my skin, but my hands began removing my clohes before my mind approved the request. Listen to them. They held open a white paper lunch bag and I placed my beige padded bra with the worn straps inside. My gray dress went into another bag, never to be seen again. Something about checking for semen. When everything was gone, I stood naked, nipples staring back at me, unsure where to put my arms, wanting to cross them over my chest. They told me to hold still while they photographed my head from different angles. For portraits I was accustomed to smoothing my hair down, parting it on the side, but I was afraid to touch the lopsided mess. I wondered if I was supposed to smile with teeth, where I should be looking. I wanted to close my eyes, as if this could conceal me. One nurse slid a blue plastic ruler from her pocket. The other held a heavy black camera. To measure and document the abrasions, she said. I felt latex fingertips crawling over my skin, the crisp edge of the ruler pressed against the side of my neck, my stomach, my butt cheeks, my thighs. I heard each click, the black lens of a camera hovering over every hair, goose bump, vein, pore. Skin had always been my deepest source of  self-consciousness. I froze, magnified beneath the lens.

(Chanel Miller – Know my name. A memoir)


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literatura e efortul inepuizabil de a transforma viaţa în ceva real

The priest: Aren't you afraid of hell? J. Kerouac: No, no. I'm more concerned with heaven.

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