Is it really?

Okay.  Um…it’s Friday now, which tends to happen on the day that follows Thursday, and since yesterday was Thursday, I suppose it shouldn’t surprise anyone, let alone me, that today is Friday.

I suspect there are plenty of people for whom Friday is a good thing in and of itself.  Or, well, not really “in and of itself”, now that I think about it.  In and of itself, it’s just another day, with nothing to set it apart from the 1.6 trillion or more others since the Earth first coalesced and cooled and the similar number that will pass in the future, until the sun’s expanding surface envelopes Earth and reduces it to cinders and dust in the eventual ring nebula that our solar system will become.  But within our current social system, Friday is the end of the “work week” and the “school week”, and so for many people it is a harbinger of pleasant—albeit brief—times to come.

This will be my weekend off, meaning I won’t be working tomorrow (the office is never open on Sundays), so I don’t expect to be writing anything tomorrow.  I also don’t think I’m going to be making and uploading any videos, but that’s not unusual.  Eventually, I expect I’m going to do a bit of the latter for a while, though it probably won’t last for long.  If I do end up successfully following that plan, I will no doubt share/embed such videos here, for posterity and for the ease of my regular readers.

I’m sure that I’m not alone in feeling discouraged that there are so few regular readers out there in the world.  Has it been this way my whole life?  I feel that when I was younger there were more readers around, as a percentage, than there are now, but perhaps that’s a misperception on my part.  I lived in a family that embraced and celebrated reading; both of my parents read to me when I was young (as did my sister), and certainly my sister was (and is) at least as avid a reader as I am.  My brother is not as big a reader of fiction as I or our sister, but still, he read quite often when I was young.

I think my Dad didn’t read as much as he wanted to, because he worked a full time job, but his father was a big reader, and my Mom read quite a lot.  I remember she liked those Harlequin romance novels, but she also always loved mysteries.  And my family got three daily newspapers, at least for a while, and quite a few magazines.

Nowadays, even people who have good imaginations and who will want to tell stories and be creative in doing so are going to have a higher chance of being distracted by all the video media that abounds, and very few people will read, let alone write, long stories in the printed word.  Even things like Harry Potter became movies even before the whole series of books had come out, so though the books did bring many young people to the wonderful world of reading magical stories, I can’t help thinking that there’s someone out there who would have started reading the books and loved them, and maybe from there would have gone on to read more and other books, but didn’t because, thanks to the films, they didn’t need to do it.

Oh, well.  There is no gravity; the universe is just warped.

In front of me now, one the wall of the train, there is a (very nice) poster advertising* the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and related services.  It’s good that they promote it, and that they do it in such a way, trying to show a group of people from various walks of life, all of whom look glum, and above whom are symbols of things like heartbreak, confusion, pain, etc.  “Lonely?  Depressed?  Anxious?” it asks.  Then below, it tells us, “It’s OK to not be OK”. I have two minor and really pointless quibbles about this line, and I can’t help having them, despite the fact that it makes me hate myself even more than I already did.

The first quibble is with the split infinitive.  I don’t like split infinitives partly because, in many languages, it’s not even possible to split an infinitive**, and this includes the most broadly spoken language in the western hemisphere***, Spanish.  It’s not a terribly big deal, I guess, but I feel that in many ways writing “It’s OK not to be OK” would be at least as good, and in a certain emphatic, rhetorical sense, it might be better yet to write “It’s OK to be not OK”.  That last one makes “not OK” the state you’re in, as one phrase, and I think it really works for emphasis.

Never mind that.  The point that really got into my idiotic, dysfunctional nervous system was to note that, well…it had better be OK not to be OK, because it’s not like people get to choose.  If people could choose, no one would choose to be “not OK”.  Why would they?  It makes no sense.  Surely, if people could choose, everyone would choose to feel good and energetic and motivated and enthusiastic every day.

If people could choose, there would be no self-help books.  Who would say, “Hmm…today, I think I’ll dial myself toward the ‘depressed’ and ‘suicidal’ settings, just to change things up and keep from getting bored”?  If they could do that, why not just adjust the “boredom” dial downward and not be depressed and suicidal?

It’s a bit like saying “It’s OK not to be able to go the speed of light”.  Well, it had better be OK, because you don’t have any choice about it.  And though it’s more complex, you don’t have any simple choice in the previous matter, either.  It’s like I always want to say when I hear the Rush lyric, “I will choose free will”—No.  You won’t.  You either have free will or you don’t have free will, but you don’t have any choice in the matter.  It’s not up to you.

Of course, ultimately, I’m quite sure that the whole point of this most welcome poster on the wall is to say, in a concise and relatable way, that they know that people don’t have a simple choice about not feeling OK, and that people shouldn’t feel guilty or bad about the fact that they do.  It’s not a sign of weakness, or a fault, and even if it could be called such things, it’s not your fault in the sense of being a mistake or failure on your part.  It’s something that happened to you, not something you did.  And it’s OK to ask for help if you’re able to do that…though many of us are not…it’s one part of that thing that makes us not OK.

If you had designed and built the world and yourself, you might be personally to blame, but you didn’t and you aren’t.  Neither did any of the people around you.  So, try not to take at least that bit of blame and shame upon yourself, if you can help it.

Of course, when you’re depressed and suicidal, that’s a state of mind that can be hard to achieve.  Goodness knows I can’t seem to do it.


*Is that the correct term?  I guess it works.  I wish I had taken a picture of the poster; I tried to look for it online but have been unsuccessful…which doesn’t really help my self-esteem much.

**To do so in Spanish would be to split the word in a bizarre kind of tmesis.  “To not be” would roughly equate to “ha-no-cer”, but even that doesn’t quite capture the trouble.

***Based on number of countries, at least, in which it is the primary language.  I think one also cannot split infinitives in Portuguese, the primary language of Brazil.

One thought on “Is it really?

  1. Vary good post today. Yes our family read more then most. The whole group of us. I remember bringing those old paper bags full of books from 1 house to another. I must admit that some of Grandpa’s western novels were not bad. I still pick up one now and then. I think of him every time I do. Well that’s it for today have a great weekend I will be working so go out and have some fun for me I could use more fun in life.

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