Tuesday, January 3, 2012


I'm a firm believer in not having to do all living yourself. I think it comes from having been a reader since I was five, but it may have been my oppressed adolescence, when vicarious living was crucial to figuring out what anything to do with boys was. If you can learn from what you see, you get to do several lives' worth of living in the lifetime you get.

I've been putting together some resolutions for myself since yesterday morning. My lovely friend and I were discussing autism while we packed up food and folded inflatable mattresses, and I realised, with a shock, that I don't have a lot of empathy for people with autism or Aspergers; in fact, I have a hard time with anyone who doesn't show emotion in a way I can relate to. I remembered what I said to Vincent last week after Max's meltdown on Parenthood, about our kid doing that if the Jenga Queen was in hospital, and I felt embarrassed, and horrified. I always excuse my feelings towards people I meet who are reserved, or people who are emotionally closed, by telling myself it's our feelings that make us human. On the drive back from the beach yesterday, I admitted to myself how full of shit that is. Being human is what makes us human. I thought I was empathetic, but I'm not; not when I've excluded an entire group, including people with conditions that make it impossible for them to be emotionally open or socially sophisticated. It's hard to realise something like this, that everyone who knows you probably already knows, but at least when you know something, you can do something about it. I picked the above clip, instead of just the song on its own, because it reassures me that fucking up is normal (although we with the egos seem to manage the biggest fuck-ups); regrettable, but normal. It's what we do after the fucking up - it can't undo what has happened, but it makes all the difference.

My Resolutions for 2012 (and beyond):
1. Develop empathy that doesn't rely on my own experience or imagination (I think the way to do this will be reading, watching stuff, and talking to people who know about things like autism).
2. Make exercise part of my life (vomit, vomit, cry and vomit, but if I get bronchitis and crack my ribs again this year, I may strangle myself).
3. Start doing the things I've been planning (these are specific, and related to work, politics, and charity).
4. Go on a holiday with my Mum and Dad, and another with my soon-to-be-Dunedin parents.
5. Visit someone I love, but don't often see, every second Sunday.

On Christmas Eve, a friend of Vincent's was killed in a car accident. We told our friends about it when we saw them on New Year's Eve, exactly a week later, and I remembered all of the things I realised and became so afraid of when my baby nephew died eight years ago. I would wake up in the night, terrified, because I couldn't hear my dog breathing, and I would think the difference between life and death is breathing; that one tiny thing is everything. When Vincent and I told our friends that day, and earlier that day when he and I debated which super-powers we would give up years for, and how many years the ability to freeze time would be worth, I thought about how the difference between life and death is also time; a second, or a few days, or a week. I don't think every minute can be spent on a specific mission; not for me, anyway - for me, that wouldn't be living. But when time is the difference between life and death, it has to mean something; it has to. I want all of my time to mean something.

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