Competition

The competition between days with too many things demanding my attention and days requiring nothing of me is intense. I want both, but for different reasons. When obligations consume every waking second, my mind has little opportunity to dwell on things I would rather not think about. When I am under no pressure to fulfill commitments, I am free to let tightly-wound tensions ease. Both appeal to me, but both carry with them unpleasant side-effects.

Busy days tire me and spin me in increasingly inflexible coils, all the while washing me in guilt for permitting my mind to stray from things I should think about, no matter how unpleasant. Lazy days drown me in regret for having an undeserved luxury, something unavailable to my wife for far too long.

I feel brittle; breakable, as if I were a long sheet of glass with both ends on top of two distant supports. The weight of a feather pillow half-way between could cause the glass to crack. The weight of a second pillow could cause it to shatter. I am, by nature, emotionally fragile and weak, but I cannot afford to shatter. As I consider this attribute, my anger at myself grows for failing to take whatever steps might have been necessary to strengthen that weakness in years past. Building strength requires repetitive exercise and time. I suppose I was satisfied to be soft and feeble; if not satisfied, then tolerant of the state into which I grew.

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It is impossible to know what is in another person’s head. What we might consider irrational and unwise behavior may be based, in fact, on solid reasoning; just reasoning we cannot understand or accept. That is not to say that we ought to change our mind about the erroneous nature of the behavior, only that we ought to attempt to understand what could be driving it.

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BBC.com sometimes reshapes my day from unbearable to tolerable. Today, for instance, I awoke depressed (and I remain so), but an article on BBC.com gave me a brief respite with a couple of articles relating to India. The first one related the experience earlier this week of the owners of Baba ka dhaba, a street food stand in south Delhi’s Malviya Nagar.  One of the owners, an 80-year-old man, during an interview by a video blogger broke down when explaining how his business had dwindled during the pandemic. The video went viral, resulting in an enormous boost to his business (and some significant donations) during the last few days. The second article involved a British academic’s tweet that called idlis “the most boring things in the world.” The south Indian diaspora responded with stunned indignation (and humor) to the assertion, some pointing out the irony of the pronouncement. The academic is quoted as saying “…a lot of people have made the very valid point that it is a bit rich for a Britisher to criticise Indian food as being bland!”

Aside from temporarily lifting the veil of sadness this morning, skimming BBC.com aroused my desire to have Indian food sometime soon.

 

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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