February 10, 2005

Response to blog tempest

So which friend has it worse? The woman who wakes up every night with nightmares because she is still grieving for the daughter who was killed when the World Trade Center came down? Or the woman who is struggling to care for her dying father, even though he was abusive to her as a child?

Who has it worse? The friend who has just moved to a strange city and knows absolutely no one, who spends her weekends at the office, doing paperwork by herself? Or the friend who just had twins, both with birth defects, and hasn't slept for more than three hours in a row in weeks?

When I lived in London, a friend taught me this pub game in which each person would tell their saddest story, competing to be the sorriest sod in the group. The game was hilariously funny. Maybe the humor came from the fact that we'd all been drinking all night. Or maybe it came from the absolute absurdity of thinking that we could possibly put such things as stress, anxiety, or grief on a measurable scale.

Life in this culture in this century is difficult for just about everyone. So many of the people in this blog community live far from family and friends, with all kind of societal pressures on them.

My gut feeling about all this : when you are on a ship that has sprung a whole bunch of leaks, water pouring in everywhere, it doesn't make sense to stand around and argue whose feet are getting the wettest.

Stop fighting everyone! Just grab the buckets. And start bailing.

17 comments:

AiE said...

(A secular humanist) amen to that.

Dr. H said...

YES!!!! *nodding head furiously*

I think it's through sharing these stories -- what is hard for us right now -- that we can feel connected through the struggle. I never look at sharing my stories as competing to say I have it worse. Instead, I hope to hear how others are also struggling to know that we are all fighting the good fight toward balance and peace within ourselves and the world together. Unity through struggle. Bailing the water together. I get more motivation to bail when I can see others continuing to do so in the face of their own leaks.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Scrivener said...

jo(e), thanks for this post. I completely agree, and I've followed your example and written my own post on the whole thing too.

It's funny, day-before-yesterday and yesterday, I was feeling so empowered by the blog, discussing my own struggles with work and family. And now, I read that out of those discussions, Jimbo's leaving off blogging and michelle wants to write nothing but posts about the weather. How did this happen?

jo(e) said...

Jimbo -- my apologies for deleting your comment. I was trying to click on the link on the next comment and I must have hit that little trash can icon. I don't know how to make it come back ....

jo(e) said...

Scrivener -- I think the blog community functions like any other community. People are stressed out or overtired or overworked or lonely or angry or frustrated or disappointed -- whatever -- and they take it out on other members of the community. Then people get angry, boundaries get crossed, words start flying. Eventually, they calm down and apologize and each person is left to work through his/her own issues, which often have nothing to do with whatever everyone has been arguing about. Yeah, it takes emotional effort but that, I think, is the valuable part of being in a community.

Ocean said...

This song just came to my head, so this will be my response. We all go through trials and tribulations, let's stand together. Nothin good comes easily, sometime you have to fight. Today, green is the color of my energy.

"Let them all pass all their dirty remarks (One Love!);
There is one question I'd really love to ask (One Heart!):
Is there a place for the hopeless sinner,
Who has hurt all mankind just to save his own beliefs?

One Love! What about the one heart? One Heart!
What about - ? Let's get together and feel all right
As it was in the beginning (One Love!);
So shall it be in the end (One Heart!),
All right!"

wolfa said...

On the other hand, there are times when some people -- though having it bad -- don't have it as bad as other people. It doesn't make it easier: your own hell is always worse. But sometimes it's also good to see the parts of our lives which *aren't* worse, where we are better off than others, even if they're better off in other areas, because it's important to see the good too.

(This is not about the current situation, just a general thing.)

jo(e) said...

Turns out that the comment I accidentally deleted wasn't Jim's -- oh, well. Apologies to whoever got deleted .... feel free to re-post.

Terminaldegree said...

Thanks so much for writing this.
When I was in grad school, one of my married friends used to tell me how much harder her life was than mine. I should add here that she did not have kids, she worked part-time, and her husband supported them in fine style. He provided the health insurance. He did the taxes. He fixed the cars. He did the laundry so she could study. He was a great guy, and I was genuinely glad she had such a great support system. But I couldn't figure out why she'd say, on a regular basis, "Don't take this the wrong way...but life is easier for you because you are single." (She said it once about 12 hours after I'd broken up with my longterm boyfriend.)

Other than this, she was a great friend (yes, really). But I couldn't understand why she felt the need to be the "hardest worker in grad school." (Maybe because she wasn't exactly the world's greatest student? That's my theory, anyhow...that she was afraid of her classes and needed an excuse for her grades.)

Now that she has two toddlers and spends her days cleaning up poop (her description of mommyhood), yeah, her life is probably harder.

But it still doesn't need to be a competition.

dr. m(mmm) aka The Notorious P.H.D. said...

I love the idea of the sorriest sod game. It takes the divisivness of the opression-trumping drive we have and turns it into an absurdity--so we can all identify with each other better.

We used to have fun playing "fiery pit." That's the game where you put someone on the spot with a choice of being able to save only one of two things or people dangling over a fiery pit. The more audacious the choice the better.

Psycho Kitty said...

Yep, yep.
When did you live in London? I was there for several years. I miss it sometimes--although I don't miss the polution!

Manorama said...

There's a "my life is better" game, too. It is just as stupid.

anbruch said...

jo(e), no problem about deleting the comment. I don't recall much of what it said, except I know that I complimented you on your post, which I found exactly on spot and I very much appreciated. Me, I just wish it all had never happened and that now it would all just go away, which is why I'm taking a hiatus from posting.

jwb

Marcia said...

Excellent post. Thanks for the sane words.

jo(e) said...

Psycho Kitty: I was in London in the early 1980s -- as a college student. I still miss it sometimes ....

Elizabeth said...

The version of that game that some of my friends made up was that you go around and everyone has to tell a story that ends with "...but I'm not bitter."

Elizabeth
http://elb.typepad.com/halfchangedworld