Thursday, April 28, 2011

Self Absorption

I'm conscious of the above term (defined as: "preoccupation with oneself to the exclusion of others or the outside world") when I contemplate what I wrote yesterday.  Yes, there are flood advisories in West Michigan and we do live in a floodplain and the river is now up to flood stage and rising.  But in comparison to what happened last night amid tornados across the South, my issues are minute. MSNBC is reporting that already 213 are reported dead, and that number will no doubt rise---a number that pales in comparison to Japan's terrible earthquake disaster.  And yet, I easily forget this devastation and focus on my own issues. I've worked sand-bag lines helping to save homes and I've donated to Haiti relief, but bottom line, my own problems are foremost.

Self-absorption, I think, is a human/animal quality of self-preservation.  I cannot weep over every great (and small) tragedy or I would be weeping all the time---and confined to a mental institution. I came to terms with this more than 40 years ago when my mother was killed in an auto accident.  My co-workers were all sympathetic after I returned to New Jersey from the Wisconsin funeral, but a few hours later I heard them in the lunch room howling with laughter, having forgotten my pain.  That's how it should be. I decided that then and there.  My sorrow is my own; others can comfort, but bottom line, I must bear the grief alone (and with others who are personally affected).  Maybe the term self-absorption is too strong, but I think it's good to chide myself with the term as a way of putting my own issues into perspective.