Anne Notations

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Gloom, grumble, and hindsight

Friends, I have been stressed and tired lately. It's hard to blog in this condition. What strength I have in my personal reservoir is needed simply to get myself out of bed and into work each day.

Our finances are in dire straits, due to Michael's continuing unemployment (since last May). I myself work 80 percent time for a nonprofit, so we are not exactly raking in the dough and are spending our paltry savings to meet the monthly bills. This cannot go on much longer.

In addition, our younger son continues to founder in school, get too little sleep, stay home sick with vomiting and GI pain, and in general make me feel helpless and crazy. He is getting all the help available right now (GI specialist, psychotherapy) but I've just about had it. I was reading through a humor file on my hard drive last night and saw this quote, author unknown: "Raising a teenager is like nailing Jell-o to a tree." Yeah, that's about right.

In rummaging for comic relief on my hard drive, I spotted something else I'd saved (not in the "funny folder"). It's a posting I made to an online support group shortly after 9/11 in 2001. I was struck by how well my initial thoughts have held up in the six-plus years since I wrote this in response to a poster who criticized a memorial service for the 9/11 victims in DC:

> funny, the bishop [in Washington] left out the emotion that's been
>predominant in my mind these last few days.

Hi, J–:

At yesterday's mass at St. Sebastian Church in Providence, our priest did not leave anger out of his homily. Anger obviously is one of the two or three most appropriate, justifiable, and healthy human emotional responses to the attacks.

But Father H– did speak calmly and clearly to us about the choice before us: between retaliation simply to enact vengeance, on the one hand; and on the other, a determination to see that justice is done.

Which of these paths do we find more challenging? more complex? more demanding and difficult, and therefore more respectful of us as beings with highly evolved brains and consciences?

I admit that I hated to hear our priest's sermon yesterday, because it seemed to ask of me more than I wanted to find in myself. Anger is a luxurious, adrenaline-filled emotion; it floods us and animates us and seduces us to remain in its thrall and to act quickly. (This is no doubt an evolutionary adaptation that worked well to ensure our prehistoric survival.)

Perhaps sometimes the easiest path of action also turns out to be the best one. History has taught us, however, that often it is not. May we all (including the nation's leaders) find a core of strength and wisdom to guide our emotions and actions in the aftermath of the attacks.

You can detect, I believe, an incipient fear that our leaders might act rashly in the wake of 9/11 and unlock a Pandora's box of grim consequences. And that is exactly what has happened with our rush to "liberate Iraq" and eliminate Saddam Hussein on trumped-up accusations of that country's ties to terrorists and plans for chemical or nuclear havoc. Years later, the main perpetrator of 9/11's horrors remains at large, the U.S. is reviled internationally for its blustering adventurism in Iraq and Afhganistan, and our economy is quickly sliding into a recession.

These are not good times. My own angst seems to mirror a national apprehension about the near and long-term future. I wonder which candidate for president may have the wisdom, strength, and forbearance to lead us in a more productive and less polarized direction; or, sadly, whether the U.S. has grown too big and complex for our version of democracy to work anymore, and its citizens too individualistic and bellicose to put the common good ahead of narrow agendas.

And, of course, I wonder where my family and I will be in a year or two years' time.



  • Wow, Such a rich post. Oy, if I had a rich post...

    Someone wise once said, if you can get through life you can get through anything. Sounds relevant.

    A great rabbi once said that the dark forces inside us are always building up amo so we have to always be gearing up too.

    I don't generally talk politics. What's most interesting to me is the human side. And I can be moved easily by what strikes me as sincere at the moment. Candidates' speeching of acceptance or of concession or appointment or resignation pretty much always get to me.

    The previous paragraph having been said as an intro, I just want to say that the other night McCain's speech after he won New Hampshire actually touched and impressed me. What made me think about it now was one of the issues you raised.

    He spoke about the need in life to put other things bfore yourself and how to varying degrees of success the thing he's chosen as his cause for most of his life has been his country.

    By Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann, at Fri Jan 11, 01:01:00 AM EST  

  • This cannot go on much longer.

    Please be proactive, even if it means finding a better paying, but less spiritually or socially rewarding job or second job.

    The worst thing you can do is nothing, and just hope things will magically get better, on their own.

    I hope things work out.

    Hang in there.

    By Blogger uknowwhoiyam, at Sat Jan 12, 08:56:00 PM EST  

  • You're in our prayers, Anne.
    And I know what it's like to be exhausted AND have a zillion things to worry about. Take care of yourself.


    By Blogger Karen, at Sun Jan 13, 01:34:00 PM EST  

  • I'm thinking of you. Hard times do pass -- have faith, but batten down the hatches.

    By Blogger bozoette, at Tue Jan 15, 10:53:00 AM EST  

  • Hey, Old Friend. Found you and your incredible gift for bringing it all together with your writing. You are truly gifted and it is a joy to read your blog. Keep the faith. You and Michael opened your hearts, souls and lives to some in need oh so many years ago, and what you sow, so shall you reap. Just think the best may be yet to come.

    By Blogger junesbug, at Sat Jan 19, 12:18:00 AM EST  

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