This thought occurred to me when Chadwick Boseman (November 29, 1976 – August 28, 2020) Wikipedia died from complications of cancer back in August. The man was so amazing on screen. Now imagine being that amazing while all the time knowing what was eating you alive from inside. The treatments. The pain.
…And still. Some of the best performances ever recorded on film by anyone. I am in awe of him and so many other people out there who strive and achieve against such great odds. It inspires me to keep going. To not give up.
I never say “I’m fine” When asked this question. Well okay, almost never. Even when I was reasonably healthy I hated the “How are you?” and “I’m fine” responses. It is all so meaningless. Just say hello.
Just say hello, because you don’t really care how I’m doing. I can prove this general assertion. If someone launches into a list of their illnesses when asked “how are you?” it is demonstrably seen as a breach of manners. They don’t really care and the mannerly response to this feigned interest in the other person’s health is the discardable reply “I’m fine.” This allows the real conversation to commence.
So why ask? When I’m asked this question as part of a greeting I try to give “fair to middling” as my response. Why? Because it evades the question and makes a mutual joke out of the feigned interest in my health. Unless that person is my doctor or a fellow chronic illness sufferer, I assume the question is just an assumption of familiarity that does not exist. If we were familiar, they would know not to ask me that question unless they wanted to talk for an hour.
The Wife took me to task for this beef of mine.
…one thing I find highly annoying is your beef presumption that the person who asks how you are doing is just babbling meaninglessly. That is the utmost arrogance. Yes it is part of polite conversation but it is intended as a conversation starter and can be as short or as long as you chose. How often have you seen me ask that question without wanting the real answer? That’s probably why so many people talk to me and though yes they do sometimes give me more that I wanted, it starts connections. Just something more to chew on.
She is allowed to give me beef in return because I have been forced to wait on her for half an hour to an hour while she talks to clerks and cashiers, fully engaged in a total stranger’s complaints and whims, and I’ve done this more times that I can count. I’ve gone out to the car on more than one occasion. Gone out to the car, gotten in the driver’s seat and pulled out of the parking space. Started to drive off. This is the only way to get her to come out to the car so we can leave on some errand that can’t wait for a spontaneous conversation to end.
When I go into a convenience store, it is inconvenient to talk to the cashier for a half-hour when all I needed was a doughnut and something to drink. A five minute excursion, tops, when it is just me. When she’s along, pack a lunch to eat in the parking lot waiting on her to finish her conversation. She is on the other end of the spectrum from the average person when it comes to conversation. An anomaly. An outlier. The exception that proves the rule.
Chronic illness sufferers know this to be true. No one wants to hear about your pain. A good portion of the time even the people you pay to care don’t care about your pain. This fact is demonstrated to us repeatedly until we learn to shut up about what is bothering us. Just say hello. It’s not too much to ask.
Carl Sagan always used to say that when he was trying to explain something to someone, he would go back to that time when he didn’t understand it, and then he would retrace his thought steps so that he could make it absolutely clear, and that’s one of the infinite number of things I learned from him.
Our actions entrench the power of the light on this planet. Every positive thought we pass between us makes room for more light. And if we do more than think, then our actions clear the path for even more light. That is why forgiveness and compassion must become more important principles in public life.
Some years ago, I was lucky enough invited to a gathering of great and good people: artists and scientists, writers and discoverers of things. And I felt that at any moment they would realise that I didn’t qualify to be there, among these people who had really done things.
On my second or third night there, I was standing at the back of the hall, while a musical entertainment happened, and I started talking to a very nice, polite, elderly gentleman about several things, including our shared first name*. And then he pointed to the hall of people, and said words to the effect of, “I just look at all these people, and I think, what the heck am I doing here? They’ve made amazing things. I just went where I was sent.”
And I said, “Yes. But you were the first man on the moon. I think that counts for something.”
And I felt a bit better. Because if Neil Armstrong felt like an imposter, maybe everyone did. Maybe there weren’t any grown-ups, only people who had worked hard and also got lucky and were slightly out of their depth, all of us doing the best job we could, which is all we can really hope for.
At first I did blame him. You should say there is no loyalty if someone commits crime, but if someone didn’t, then you should not lie about people. Then one day I was so angry when they told me that a detainee lied about me. When I was tortured, I did not blame them anymore, because I was saying, “Wow. This is one way for Allah to show me that I am a weak person too.”
Not weakness. Fallibility. Choosing life over death isn’t a weakness. He lied to save himself. He’s human.
This is episode four in a series from WNYC and Radiolab. Like most of my long-term listening podcasts, I’ve listened to every episode, even some that aren’t on the current podcast list. Since they don’t link the other episodes in the series, I will link them here.
If the only other person that had my name that I could find on Google had been a detainee at Guantanamo, I would have wanted to understand that RAnthony the way that Latif wants to understand this guy. There is a American football player who uses RAnthony the way I do. I wondered who that guy was who was more popular than me.
In the first four episodes we discover just how little evidence existed for why we took him prisoner in the first place. In episode five we go into the Upside Down (is it a movie reference instead of a Stranger Things reference? I wonder) and discover the other side of Abdul Latif Nassir. What did we do to him? What have we done to him in the eighteen years we have kept him locked up. Locked up without trial. Without charges. Without a justifiable reason other than that we wanted to hide away what we had done to him, and to the other detainees in Guantanamo Bay.
“I felt my eyes swelling as though they would burst from their sockets, and the veins on my temples were dreadfully distended with pressure of blood upon my head,” Brown wrote. “I felt a cold sweat coming over me that seemed to be warning that death was about to terminate my earthly miseries.”
Ignore the clickbaity header and footer if you can. Just experience the beauty of the verse.
…The shameless promotion represented in the clickbaity come on to watch almost kept me from watching the damn thing. This is why nakedly inspirational material will almost never be found around me. Most of it amounts to a desire for wish fulfillment. Saying “I’m not broken” is easy. Living the best life you can with disabilities is very hard, and continues every day that you get up and start the day again.
It’s about– adherence to the Constitution. And the American people and the Congress is insisting that he allows us to do our job. Basically what the president has done and the Republicans have done, they’ve joined hands. And the Republicans have been basically not only blocking but become the defense counsel for the president. Okay. But no documents? I mean, come on.