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Friday, August 20, 2010

We refer to death in everyday conversation. Two examples come to mind. One often hears how ready a person is to punch out when mortified in public: "I'm so embarrassed I could die." Another will exclaim upon over-exertion: "That nearly killed me."

Death appears to be right below our consciousness, and is readily called up in extreme circumstances. I don't believe that those who refer to death at such times are all histrionic personality disorders. If they had their wits about them and could take a moment or two to calm down, I bet they wouldn't, in fact, want to die as a means of escaping embarrassment. Yes, embarrassment--a milder form of shame--is highly uncomfortable, even painful, but bearable. All of us survive multiple embarrassing occasions over the course of a lifetime. And though we strain ourselves yet too we survive such over-exertions. In truth we are way more hardy than we give ourselves credit for.

So sturdy and durable are we that each and every one of us even endures the most arduous undertaking of all: death itself. From this vantage point, there is no greater test of endurance and all of us--no exceptions--live through it. It is only in the realm of thought, then, that we see ourselves as too delicate or frail to survive embarrassment or harsh conditions. Not so.

that snail
knocked off eight times
ninth time climbs the wall

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