The Other I

April 12, 2017

Sizing up the situation

Filed under: Just Stuff — theotheri @ 3:40 pm

Image result for celebrity logo

If by any chance you grew up like me with the goal of becoming a member of the Great and the Good, you might recognize my current thoughts not as an admission of failure but as a worthwhile achievement.  Given my Catholic background, I was planning on becoming a saint, preferably one like Mother Teresa who was recognized before she died.  I will confess I also wanted to be physically attractive and smart but thought that wanting to be rich would demean my high moral standards.

What I’ve grown beyond is the desire for public recognition.  Celebrity, whether it’s packaged as friends on Facebook, canonization by Rome,  or ranking for the Big Prize in sports, politics, or entertainment aren’t worth the paper they are written on.

What has taken its place in my mind is an appreciation of the nature of human consciousness and so of our first and more important responsibility:  to care for those nearest to us.  For all of us around the world, the closer something is to us, the more emotional energy it stimulates.  And indeed, almost always, that is where the greater the possibility is that we might be able to respond in some meaningful way.  Like most people reading this post, I feel deep sympathy and care about the seven million people, several million of whom are children, who are on the edge of starvation caused by war and drought.

But you know, the child next door who is being abused by his parents can use up more of my time and energy and attempts to help than the entire Syrian, Yemen, and African crisis.  When I have to choose between those closest to me and those further way, I think my first responsibility is to those closest to me.  If I have to choose between my family and yours, I think my first — though not only — responsibility is my family.

Which is a very long convoluted way of trying to explain the conundrum I am currently facing when I sit at my computer to write a post.  There are the immensely complex and critically important things happening in the world. But there are also life-changing events going on in my immediate family.  A brother has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, a sister walked into her bedroom two weeks ago and found her partner lying dead on the floor.  The double tragedy is that 40 years ago something similar happened with the death of her first husband.  I won’t write any further about these things because I do not want to invade their privacy by posting about their experiences here.

But being there with them is focusing my energy.  I’m not able to spend as much time staying abreast of current affairs, and am making do with reading headlines.  When I distract myself with trivia I feel shallow and self-absorbed.

But that’s a mistake.  Putting food on the table for my loved ones, keeping the house half-way clean, getting enough exercise and sleep to maintain my own energy and health, watching entertainment television or reading escapist novels might feel trivial.  But they are part of what I can do to support those nearest to me.  And to receive in turn the love which sustains me.

So from now on when I write a post, whether it’s silly or serious, I’m not going to feel guilty and self-absorbed.

Okay, I got that off my chest.  Thank you for listening.




  1. Thanks for the thoughts – we can usually have a better effect close to home


    Comment by rayvoith — April 14, 2017 @ 3:10 am | Reply

    • Thank you for your comment, Ray. My brother, btw, who is dying is Dick, the ex-Maryknoller who is included in several of your website’s Scranton pictures. Another brother who also went to Venard is hoping to join the reunion, which I notice you have marked on your website. Amazing how life evolves, isn’t it?


      Comment by theotheri — April 14, 2017 @ 11:34 am | Reply

  2. We react to tragedies on TV with our intellect. We interpret things. We may even feel passionately about things, and so we should. But it is my personal opinion that most of the time, when we react to such things, we are simulating emotion, not REALLY feeling it. We instinctively know we OUGHT to be outraged, ashamed, sad or overjoyed…and we behave exactly as if we do. And we are good people for doing so. We get so good at it that we ourselves don’t know the difference at times. It is only when tragedy hits close to home, to people we know and wish well, that we can tell the difference between a true emotion and one that is there because some part of our brain feels it OUGHT to be there.
    It sounds like your family is going through a rough patch. It also sounds like you are doing your bit, you are contributing, supporting, being a friend. Hang in there. If I were more religious, I’d pray for strength for you and your family. For now, I will wish it really hard.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by psriblog — April 18, 2017 @ 4:02 pm | Reply

    • Thank you for this. And also for your promise to “wish it really hard.” Harvey Cox says you don’t need to believe in God to pray but I’m always tempted to add a tiresome philosophical explanation of my own whenever I use the phrase. “Wishing,” and “hoping” don’t come with the historical baggage that “praying” does, do they?


      Comment by theotheri — April 19, 2017 @ 1:27 pm | Reply

  3. I once heard that to make the world better just take care of the small area around you. Might have even been the “10 feet ” around you. I’m finding the aging process is just making that harder and harder. Not dealing with any health issues but just the process of downsizing is almost over whelming for my husband and I at this moment. But I can and will pray for you and your family…;)


    Comment by DJC — June 9, 2017 @ 11:27 pm | Reply

    • Donna – thank you so much for this supporting comment. Several of my (younger!) sibs are facing end-of-life issues, and your prayers are much appreciated. Like you, my husband and I find that downsizing, in all the forms it demands, is overwhelming. How did we ever acquire so much stuff? The conundrum is that it is not worthless, so putting it into the trash isn’t really an option. And the younger generation don’t want/need so many of the things that seemed essential in our younger days. I just keep reminding myself that we are lucky to be facing this kind of problem. For so many others, the challenges are far more profound, aren’t they? It sounds as if you are in a similar fortunate position. I hope so. Terry


      Comment by theotheri — June 10, 2017 @ 9:13 am | Reply

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