Some posts have to be followed up on. I think when you have the foolishness (ignorance + misplaced courage = a great potential for “it ain’t pretty, folks”) to say that you’re giving up self-pity and it’s no longer Lent: well, this just can’t be left to lie like a bloated raccoon along the shoulder of a two-lane highway.
To be more honest, I’ve always found self-pity to be an excellent defense mechanism. The real problem is, it’s been worn a bit thin through overuse.
My dad has been in St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, MN, for the past week. I have been feeling sorry for myself over this situation because his condition was related to a hematoma on his brain that made him decidedly confused and, for one of the few times I can ever remember, weak in his BODY. This guy is the grandson of a blacksmith and inherited the barrel-chested physique of his grandfather. Seeing him in a helpless state is just a reminder that I’m headed in the same direction. Mortality.
Oh, yes, to engage in self-pity is to be self-absorbed, self-centered and, especially, selfish. I’m telling you that seeing my father in such distress distresses me rather than telling you my empathic feelings for his suffering and the trap that his mind and body have been for him over the past week. I know that and still the empathic impulse is all but dead within me while self-pity plays the monarch.
For tonight, however, I’m spending time with someone I care about a great deal. Someone who I think is lovely, caring and who, self-pityingly, I know I may not deserve. She’s invited me to go along to Rep. Tim Walz’s birthday party tonight. Two of his supporters are holding it at their home in the country. Fittingly, it was the County Poor Farm at one time but the husband is a painter and he and his wife have transformed the place into a real home.
So we’ll see if self-pity can take the backseat to joy, society, and spending time with someone gorgeous. This requires a list of skills that is too lengthy to list and too boring to go into at this time. Thank God and the strange expression of evolutionary progress in the physical world. Why does love make us forget that we have trouble?
It’s a matter of perspective: the large and important overshadow the small and less significant.