Walk on by

31 Jan

If you give me half a chance I’ll watch a documentary about death, illness, sadness, pain. Leave the remote out for a few minutes and I’ll sneak in a particularly harrowing Horizon episode. I’m drawn to them, which isn’t really such a great thing considering I have a propensity for low mood. But I reckon it’s life, and worth 60 mins or so of my time.

My husband is the opposite. He’d rather gauge his eyes out than watch or read anything sad. He’d gladly sit through 20 episodes of In the Night Garden, than emotionally commit to an hour of Silent Witness.

It’s true, I find the human condition fascinating. I read/watch these things because they stimulate my thoughts and remind me of what it is to be human. They feed my questioning mind. Yet it’s more than that. A sense of responsibility. If I switch over I am belittling that person’s feelings. I am walking past them begging on the street, turning up my jacket collar and hanging my head to avoid eye contact, telling myself I don’t need that depressing shit today.

I often wonder how many people read the opening lines of some of my posts, groan, click on that little red cross and go back to picking their nose and guffawing at the sneezing panda. Sometimes I feel a bit embarrassed of my ludicrous deep thinking. There she goes again, being all morose and turning everything over to deep philosophical thinking. Big fat yawn.

But the thing is, I can turn over and watch something else, buy a different newspaper, unsubscribe to a blog because I find it too depressing. But they can’t. They’re living it, breathing it, fighting it. I can turn away, switch off, zone out. I can do all those things, but I choose not to. I choose to listen because I think that each one tells a story worth listening to, and even if it doesn’t impart any particular nuggets of wisdom, or answer any new questions, it really is just a small, fleeting piece of my time.

18 Responses to “Walk on by”

  1. Lucy January 31, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

    Similarly, I love the misery memoir. I yearn for tales of triumph over personal trauma. Life lessons learned despite adversity. Maybe that is why I like to read blogs?

  2. Kirsty January 31, 2011 at 8:09 pm #

    Sometimes I read your blog and don’t comment, because the points you raise are so thought-provoking that I could write a whole post in the comments!

    I’m more on your husband’s wavelength. I hate watching films about war, for example. If I start thinking about the thousands of young men who gave their lives for us in WWII, or indeed the various terrible conflicts going on around the world at the moment, it blows my mind. I try to comprehend that sort of suffering, deeds of that magnitude, and it threatens to overwhelm me with sadness, frustration and guilt. If I thought too much, the logical conclusion would be to become an overseas aid worker, or a politician – to change the world somehow. And I’m too lazy, content, scared or something else, to do that. I like my quiet life with my happy little family. So I don’t give any emotional space to those stories. I want to live a full and real life, but maybe by not engaging with these painful things, I can’t claim to be doing that. Mind = boggled.

    • marketingtomilk January 31, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

      One word – balance?
      I think if you’re too busy looking at only the great stuff you miss the most amazing stories of human strength and fortitude that often accompagny the sadness. But i do agree that you could find yourself in a bottomless pit if you spend all your time down there. I know i have stop myself occasionally.
      I love that you want to write big answers to my posts – always welcome. x

  3. Mwa (Lost in Translation) January 31, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    No, I don’t have that at all. I’m with your husband. (In a completely metaphorical sense of course. It’s not like there you are watching some sad sad story and I’m off on the town with your old man. You know what I mean. But I could be. Or someone else. Maybe you should switch off that TV and look at what he’s doing. You think he’s watching the Night Garden twenty times, but really he’s a grown man and Iggle Piggle is not that good looking, so chances are he’s not. Just saying.)

    Anyway, with regards to the sad sad documentaries, I reckon that 1) I don’t make anyone’s life any better by watching them, and 2) I have been given a pretty good life so it’s up to me to enjoy it and not squander it on pointless sadness. I’m thinking the battery chicken or Moscow junkie, if they got the chance, wouldn’t be wasting their time on watching me be miserable either. If they weren’t in their predicament, they’d probably be roaming a yard pecking or shagging their boyfriend. (Chicken – junkie.)

    Yes, I’m deep too.

    You’re welcome.

    • marketingtomilk January 31, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

      ARe you really insinuating that while i’m wallowing in all these sad tales of woe my husband is off shacking up with someone else? probably the moscow junkie.
      he he.
      you’re too funny. Not sure about deep. But definitely funny.


  4. Lady-like Pervert February 1, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    First of all – don’t knock the panda… he’s sooo cute!

    You, my dear, have nothing to be embarassed about. Your posts have more depth than the Pacific ocean! You challenge EVERYTHING and in turn, you encourage your readers to do the same.

    Now excuse me while I watch the Panda again… 😉

  5. Rocker 38 February 1, 2011 at 5:35 pm #

    Being questioning and open to other people’s misfortune or misery is a good thing because it reminds you of the fragility of life, be it in health or wealth. However, living in the 3rd world, as I do, you can overdose on the misery when poverty and hardship are in your face day to day. Unfortunately sometimes you also realise that the misery can be of that person’s own making. The difference is knowing when to “feel” for others and when to just walk on by. Sounds harsh but unfortunately it is sometimes true.

    • marketingtomilk February 1, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

      I dont’ think i could ever easily walk on by, but i do get what you’re saying.

  6. nmaha February 1, 2011 at 5:39 pm #

    I’m the same.

  7. Kirrily February 1, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

    I could’ve written this post, right down to the ITNG-watching husband bit. You’re a girl after my own heart 🙂 (ok, well…. maybe not literally, although I bet you watch autopsy shows, right? ewwww. I can’t do those anymore… used to, but not these days)

    • marketingtomilk February 1, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

      well i’ve seen every episode of CSI, does that count?!

    • mama-andmore February 13, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

      Totally agree – I had to check myself there that you weren’t actually tapping into my brain! Weirdly enough though, Mr G can’t bear to watch happy chirpy movies a la chick flicks, and is all up for deep – except for depressing true life stories. I on the other hand prefer to watch real human emotion, but reckon joy is part of that too. It’s definitely about balance. Although give me a newspaper and guaranteed the only story I’ll want to talk about is something with a major downer attached. Great blog, really enjoy (am a marketing chick also, holding on by my fingernails to full time) – keep em coming!

  8. Modern Dilemma February 1, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

    Hear hear. I’m very much like you and my Alpha Male is very much like your chap, though it’s Sky Sports rather than ITNG (for which he mutters something about he’d rather be in a darkened room poking his eyes with knitting needles; a tad excessive maybe?). Anyway, I love your writing and think the fact so many people keep coming back tells you all you need to know.

    MD xx

  9. Iota February 4, 2011 at 11:16 pm #

    I’m sorry, but the sneezing panda isn’t nearly as cute as the singing puppy.

  10. Livi February 6, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    And that my dear is why I love you. I’m the same, although not fascinated with it I do force myself to watch those things because it’s life and it might be heard and heartbreaking for me but it’s real.


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