Friday, September 29, 2006

Grin and bear it; I dare you. I'm having a great time suffering this week. I realize that I just went online to boast about it, so I won't get into the specifics. I do still dare all of you to not only suffer quietly, but also to achieve quietly. The moment that some misfortune or fortune occurs, the impulse is to rush to the nearest available phone, keyboard or person to crow endlessly about how utterly helpless the idiot on the phone was or, "oh my God, I'm starving!" The motivation to abstain should not be from extremes on either end. That there are people with bigger problems and bigger achievements should not be what motivates you. Instead, quietly accepting frustration and failure should be the product of a desire for happiness and dignity.

It is no doubt corrosive and pointless to launch into a "rant" or "vent" at a customer service lackey, friend, acquaintance or total stranger. The only thing that is accomplished by doing so instead of calmly accepting what has happened is, ironically, further suffering. By going online to "rant" about how miserable your day was simply prolongs the suffering for the five or ten minutes it takes to construct a poorly written account of that day. By going online to boast that you didn't eat for 21 hours but still managed to run 10k, as I have just done, you come across as vainly seeking attention and glory. However, all the glory and all the pity received, be it via cell phone or comment box, can never satisfy in the way of an absence for that desire.

I am not saying that it is both useless and harmful to talk about your life and what happens within, be it good or bad. I am saying that it is useless and harmful to talk about your life when done out of a naked, unabashed desire for attention. To launch into a thunderous fulmination for mistakes made in a retail environment is to be motivated by the same entitlement that might allow a slaveowner to have a slave beaten. It is done for no other reason than it can be done. The semi-literate serf at Bell Canada has to accept your fruitless abuse and say "thank you for choosing Bell" at the end. Your friend has to listen to your barrage of complaints and is obliged to offer some consolation. In both cases, however, it is better to be the person who is already happy and therefore not in need of consolation or the dispensation of abuse.

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