Sunday, November 11, 2007

Some people have real problems.

This is the title of the new Sia joint, which I haven't heard (and probably won't get; I have other listening agendas). I liked some of the last album--I was pretty obsessed with "Breathe Me" for awhile, well before it was the soundtrack for Six Feet Under's grand finale--and I do think she has pipes. She is also quite charming and I recently heard her in a live performance on The Current, in which she described the origin of the album's title. During recording, "some people have real problems" was a stock response to any privileged moaning such as we all engage in on a daily basis, some of us even ON OUR BLOGS. For example:

Yuppie: "Wahhhh, my ipod battery ran out in the middle of my workout!"
Other yuppie: "Some people have real problems."

I have thought about this line quite a lot lately, but in a serious way. Did anyone hear This American Life last week? Here's the synopsis, from the website:
Jason Minter lived through the worst trauma you could imagine: he was at a friend's house, a gun pressed to his head, while his mother and another woman were raped and shot to death in the next room by robbers. He was six. And even though he saw a series of therapists as he grew up, he's never been able to feel anything about what happened. He's never even cried about it. So almost 30 years after the crime, Jason decides to make a documentary, to revisit every aspect of his mother's murder, in hopes that he'll connect to what happened, and to her, in some way.
While I listened to it I was basically thinking, as I have so many times when I am trying to get over my cheap self, "I actually don't have any actual problems at all."

Then today, I heard an Indian anti-slavery activist share a version of this speech and I thought pretty much the same thing--except with the added bonus of being uplifted by hearing firsthand about people who are doing world-changing work. This stuff is easy to overlook if you spend any time watching the news or listening to NPR or reading about what a terrible place the world is.

At some point soon I need to do something besides throwing a few bucks in the collection plate.


  1. I heard that This American Life episode, and I thought that exact same thing. Every time I hear of a child witnessing anything traumatic, I'm hoping in my heart of hearts that they will be able to recover in a way that will let them live happy and healthy lives without being constantly retraumatized. But clearly, this is not the way the world works most of the time. :(

  2. Ooh I heard that TAL episode and it slayed me - honestly. I had to stay in the car til it finished. I cried. I dreamt about it that night. I'm not normally that affected by stories but I think it was the LACK of emotion in his voice that really got to me, the idea of this kid going through that, seeing their mother randomly killed, unnecessary and awful, and that moment when he trustingly followed the man into the house (how often did he revisit that moment and wonder "what if"?) and his wonder that he couldn't just break through and FEEL even though it had clearly impacted everything in his life... goosebumpy. So sad.

  3. The thing that got me about that episode, which I heard twice in pieces but failed to realize he was six at the time, is how he fixed all concern onto his sister rather than himself. And he did it in a can-I-get-you-any-more-tea kind of way, as if was cordiality and formality that kept him safe.

  4. I found all of that kind of chilling, actually. How he seemed to race to narrate the place and what had happened, while his sister freaked out. And the fact that they'd never talked about it. And the fact that his crazy stepmother like burned every sign that his mother had ever existed.

    I'll tell you what got me: the fact that he became obsessed with security, building locks and weapons and constantly upgrading. This is obviously a very fortressed individual, and who can blame him.

    What got me even more is the image of a six year old running through the woods with two three year olds and another six year old running after him.

  5. RE: doing more than throwing a few bucks in the collection plate--Word. (For myself.) Thanks for the reminder and inspiration.

  6. It's such an odd sensation to read about oneself through strangers. I really appreciated the post on this blog and the comments that followed. You all gave me a perspective that I didn't have before. The cat story made me laugh too. :)

  7. Wow, Jason, thank you for stopping by. Your story obviously had an enormous impact on a lot of people and believe me, absolutely everyone wishes you well.

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