Monday, October 27, 2008

E-Z Recall

Years ago, humorist Dave Barry wrote a column in which he said he believed some unexplained suicides could likely be explained by the brain dredging up some unpleasant memory. He confessed to having many such memories available on what he called his brain’s E-Z Instant Recall Circuit, including a memory from his youth where he noted, at a dance, that his date was holding hands with him while holding hands with another young man. To his response to the situation – a muttered “Um.” – His brain cheers “Way to go, Dave!”

I’m having a similar experience today, involving a rather unpleasant memory of a screwed-up newspaper story that led to my departure from the industry in 2005. I know I was to blame for the screw-up, so the visceral reaction – I literally felt sick – to having that memory dredged up today was startling. So I’ve reflected on the situation a lot today, and have come to the same realizations I arrived at earlier: The screw-up was a symptom of a disease, and that disease was disaffection with my career as a journalist. The symptom, though unpleasant, led to a cure to the disease, though the cure took more than a year to accomplish and involved financial distress and a crushing of my already-fragile ego. Conclusion: The situation was, and remains, unbearably painful. But I’ve come out of it all right and, in most ways, for the better.

In addition: If this is the largest screwup I’ve ever committed – and I believe it is, because I’m not like Homer, who once expressed the thought that he was responsible for two China Syndromes at the nuclear power plants “plus a lot of stuff they haven’t found out about yet” – then I should be pleased with myself. Not that I don’t regret the screwup, but, I believe, it helped me move on in a better, more positive direction than if I hadn’t screwed up at all. I suppose that’s all part of the learning process. As we get older, as we gain experience, we get more perspective on things. And we certainly remember the pain of a screwup enough that we don’t want to commit that particular sin again.

Maybe nobody out there in Blogland cares about this. But then again, I’m not writing this blog for everyone out in Blogland.

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