Cafe Witness

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Kick to the Gut

I was browsing my endless array of bookmarks tonight while avoiding sleep and clicked on Cinemarati, a film site I occasionally visit. A recent post directed readers to The House Next Door, the blog of New York Press film critic Matt Zoller Seitz (among others), describing the need to offer condolences for a "terribly tragic personal loss."

I've never visited The House Next Door, and I dreaded clicking through the link. Inherently, I seek to cope with stress in two ways: by insisting things aren't as bad as they seem and by imagining the worst-case scenario so that it, too, somehow seems more manageable, or that the actual situation is able to pale in comparison to what could have been. I usually do these things immediately and concurrently, so my system is prepared for whatever shock it's been led to expect will happen.

Unfortunately, the worst case scenario is precisely what awaits on the click-through.

It's amazing how profoundly the tragedies of people we don't even know can affect us. It's times like these that remind us we're all human, and we're all alike, and we're all interconnected in some unconscious, root way.

I read the account, and then I read through the long list of condolences, all of which blended together by the end. Somewhere, I was hoping to see even one out of place comment, from some heartless jackass who just doesn't "get" how life works, as a sort of coping method through which the rest of the sympathizers could target their irrational anger / confusion / sadness, but instead I was amazed (and buoyed) to see a litany of support, which is so obviously needed for both Mr. Seitz and his readers.

It wasn't until I nearly reached the end of the comments list that I found the one entry that honestly moved me, the one that went beyond the expected, the one I wish I could have written but can't. It was from a Brazilian reader of The House Next Door, who felt compelled to leave a comment even though English is not his native language. I don't know what moves some people to go beyond the call of duty like that, but it moved me. He even apologized at the end in case he used the wrong phrases, but he needn't worry; his spirit carried the day.

It's a small world, a brief time upon it, and a long line of questions we develop along the way. It's best if we slow down sometimes and just enjoy it, our lives and each other, while we can.


  • How sad. Let's stop and enjoy things a little more often, k?

    By Blogger Annie, at 4:44 AM  

  • That happened to me in perhaps the worst of all scenarios. I contacted a guy I was talking with about buying some greeting card art from me for his daughter. I said, "Hey, I hadn't heard back in a few days. Do you still want to design some custom cards?"

    His daughter had passed away unexpectedly. He blogs about it now, and the blogs are amazingly cathartic and insightful into the preciousness of life. If you want to peek, read here.

    It actually inspired me to do an entire series of sketches on grieving. The link's on my Flickr page.

    And I'm with Annie. Um, not physically. I'm in agreement with her sentiment.

    By Blogger Chris, at 10:01 AM  

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