10 December 2010

The kinder, gentler approach

I am revisiting a project that is terribly difficult and unpleasant on many levels, and reminds me all too much of where I was and not where I want to be. In working on that project again, I find I have to do more research to find more specifics: my organizational scheme of my book is based on a list of characteristics, for example, which I didn't actually have a copy of in my book yet. I am searching for the characteristics I remembered seeing in my earlier research but one mysteriously is not turning up on the lists in this round of discoveries. It's a puzzle. I love that part of being able to find things you need on the internet. Compared to doing research in school, Google makes it cake-eatingly easy. You just have to be creative and persistent to get the best results. But that's true for everything, isn't it?

One thing I am look for more now is other voices of people like me, people who have survived something threatening and want to set the record straight at last so it doesn't eat them from the inside out (many of us lugging household skeletons into closets suspect this is the true root of cancer, when it's not something obvious like poisoning from chemicals).

Everyone says it when they have an unpopular opinion about something (a corporation, say -- I've just read the book A Civil Action so that is weighing heavily on my mind) or someone (the sociopath in your midst) -- "I thought maybe I was going crazy."

It's a terrible feeling, thinking you are over the edge because you believe something no one around you ever wants to see or admit is that close to them, that threatening. Darkness looks you in the eye, and when you tell others, they draw back from you like you've been bitten by the vampire. And it does make you feel crazy, different, vampiric, creepy, and dark to witness it, tell the tale. But you have to or you'll suffer, like living through an earthquake and needing to talk about it for such a long time after.

I saw a documentary about Lariam, an antimalarial drug, that terrified me, saying it can cause brain lesions -- permanent brain damage! -- that induced psychosis in people. In the film, Taken as Directed, these people were devastated, their optimism gone. One said it was like seeing the devil. And we wonder when we hear about someone going crazy and shooting a bunch of people to bits, but do we ever hear whether they had recently had a course of Lariam administered, or whether they had been exposed to other extreme protocols that fundamentally changed the way their brains worked? I'm feeling that neither my daughter nor I should take it. Too dangerous. And we need less of things in our lives that make us feel like we are going crazy, not more. We can't afford to go toward darkness, even if it is an unintended side-effect of another action.

It's good to keep in mind, as I burrow back into this project again, that it's not a preoccupation with the dark and the past, which is what the quick-judging pragmatist might say. No, instead I am going toward the light, illuminating things, making things easier for the next person who knows someone like this to figure out how to spot the tell-tale traits and avoid the devastating effect someone like that can have on anyone in their vicinity.

So I'm advocating a kinder, gentler approach to things lately. I just wrote to the makers of Off and asked for a case of their clip-on mosquito repellents to give to orphanages to put by windows or anywhere they are needed. Nets are probably a good gift, too. I'll ask around.

I am being kind and gentle with myself about the reverb10 prompts, too. It's a busy time, and I'm working hard, and haven't been up to the daily prompting and blogging rhythm. That's okay, I know. But to get on the path toward catching up, the best community thing I did this year was probably continuing to help with the Garden-to-Table project at my school. Surprised I didn't say speaking at Ignite Boulder 12? Or the Thriller flash mob downtown? Those fall close on the garden's heels, I admit, but so does helping the kids in my daughter's classroom learn more about conflict resolution. It's all good.

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