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Friday, September 02, 2005

Good Advice

The Washington Post has an advice columnist who I happen to think it the bomb-diggedy of all advice columnists (that is, until you start writing yours, K). Her name is Carolyn Hax and she's smart and funny and caring and sarcastic as hell when people are obviously idiots. I love it. She wrote something in her interactive chat today that summed up exactly what I think a lot of us need to hear these days:

Reality Check?: Do you ever feel that some of the "problems" that people write to you about are trivial and non-issues, especially considering the real tragedy that other people are facing? I would want to bang my head on the wall if I kept getting questions about frivolous boyfriend/girlfriend/job/best friend/parent etc. problems, knowing that thousands of people have just lost their homes, loved ones, jobs, livelihood within the last week.

Carolyn Hax: Today (and those other days I mentioned)
*she referred to 9/11, the Beslan school massacre and other horrific events earlier in the chat* may stand out, but there is real pain in progress every minute of every day. Kids get neglected, breadwinners lose jobs, terminal illnesses get diagnosed, cars crash. To lose sight of this truth is to live in a superficial little bubble, deserving of contempt.

But to live as if there is no other truth isn't the answer, either. Sometimes a hangnail can be really painful. Sometimes getting dumped or saying the wrong thing or being denied a promotion can dull your awareness of just about everything else for a while, without your being a self-absorbed freak. Sometimes you can laugh yourself (nearly) incontinent over the dumbest movie ever made, and you don't have to apologize for it. You are under no obligation to remind yourself every 15 minutes that someone is suffering while you amuse yourself.

There is room for a broad range of experience, and many degrees of pain. As long as you aren't causing someone pain for your own puny reasons, or, like I said above, not living in a nothing-matters-but-my-wedding-flowers bubble, your problems are wecome here.

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