Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Horror in Your Head

To start this one off I will have to begin by giving a short summary of some recent world events in the news.

On Sunday May 15th approximately one-third the town of Slave Lake, Alberta was destroyed by a horrendous fire. The blaze originated in the forests outside of town and was pushed closer and closer to the town by winds up to 100 km/hr.
Despite the best efforts of fire-fighters and civilians the perimeter of the town was breached and 95% of the 7000 residents were forced to evacuate.
By the time it was over, City Hall was burned, many businesses vanished and two hundred residences were destroyed.

In the United States a wingnut named Harold Camping who is president of Family Radio, announced that the rapture and Judgment Day would take place on May 21, 2011 at 6 p.m.
He based this stupidity on his calculations and conclusions from passages in the bible.
Sadly, this loon was given far too much coverage on the world stage and some folks actually felt that the Apocalypse could actually take place.
Happily, here we are 3 days later.
Doofus was wrong but now claims that he made an error and the event will actually occur on October 21, 2011.
Wouldn't it be nice if this guy had no access to media from now until then and we wouldn't have to hear about it again in a few months?

Over this past weekend more than fifty twisters were reported across seven midwestern states in the United States.
The worst hit was Joplin, Missouri where on Sunday a single twister killed at least 116 people, and the figure is expected to rise as debris is cleared.
Hopefully they will find some survivors as well.
This was considered to be the deadliest tornado in the United States in almost 60 years.

That's quite a bit of scariness and bad news for a short period of time isn't it?
At what point does it become too much to bear?
When does the horror of the world smash around inside our brains and finally cause it to collapse into itself?

I remember watching the movie "The Fisher King" starring Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges and feeling so sad for Robin's character.
Following the death of his wife, William's character slips into a catatonic state and remains there for a few years.
When he emerges he becomes obsessed with the tale of the legend of the Fisher King and most of the movie follows his hallucinations as Jeff Bridge's character tries to help him.
I won't bother going into full details but my point is that sometimes things happen that cause someone's mind to go into another place which is a different reality than what the rest of us know.

On the other side, I think that at times a mind which has been worn down by time or altered in some way may take what it sees, good or bad, and twist it around into another reality.

Perhaps this isn't always a bad thing.
If we can take a whole bunch of messy things and turn it into something nice in our mind what harm is there in that? Especially if it is in our later years and we don't have a lot of time left on the Earth?

That's the nice side.
What about the scary side?
What about when someone takes several things and turns them into a horror in their head?

I think that I witnessed this yesterday when we were visiting my grandmother at her nursing home.
To start I want to mention that the home is a beautiful place in the Village of Gagetown. It's cozy and overlooks the water.
No matter what time or season I have been there the view and scenery are always great. This is very important as Granny loves watching the world from her window.

During our visit yesterday Cheryl went down the hall while the boys and I stayed in the large TV room with Granny.
A few minutes later Cheryl came back and asked me if I had heard anything about a disaster involving 200,000 people in Ontario. An elderly man had just said something to her about it.
Holy moley. I'm pretty certain that I would have heard about something like this!
Even if I had never turned on the TV or radio I would certainly have heard something through Twitter or Facebook.
I had not heard of any disaster of this magnitude.

A couple of minutes later this gentleman came into the room and told us that 200,000 people were watching a football game and were sucked up into the sky to their deaths.
He then said something about a bus with thousands of people that was destroyed.
Then he said "I'll show you the paper. Hold on." and scurried out of the room.

When he returned he held up the front page of the Daily Gleaner.
He pointed to a photo of Prime Minister Stephen Harper touring the destruction at Slave Lake with the Mayor.
I started to say something about the fire at Slave Lake, Alberta but he interrupted me and pointed to the remains of a building in the photo and said that was where the 200,000 people had been watching the football game when they were killed.

The entire time this fellow was speaking it was in such an urgent and distressed way as if he had witnessed something terrifying.

Then he sat down on the couch beside my son.
He told us that from the morning to the evening yesterday he couldn't bear to watch the TV anymore from the terrible things that he was seeing. Then he covered his face with his hands.

I confess that at there was a moment that I felt some amusement listening to this man since I knew that what he was saying wasn't true.
If it had been real it would certainly have been horrific.

But here's the thing.
To this elderly man, I think that it WAS real.

I think that he had heard about the news items such as what I mentioned above and his brain put them together into an event of death and destruction like no other.

His tone of urgency and sorrow convinced me that he really believed that what he spoke of had actually transpired.
I don't think that anyone could convince him otherwise.

Perhaps he is like that all of the time? Maybe it was the first time that this had happened to him?

I don't know but it did not appear that anyone in the place was concerned about it.

On the way to the van I told Cheryl how sad it was that if the mind creates another reality why does it have to be such an awful one?
Why not something happy and peaceful? That would be so much better, wouldn't it?

As I write this I feel more sadness for this man than I did yesterday.

I'm hoping that when he opened today's paper he found some good news.

Stay well,


Rhonda Maccarone said...

Great blog Tim. Thanks. Whether you could have convinced him otherwise or not, the important thing was that you listened to him. They all need to be treated with dignity.....it may be us someday.

Lynx said...

The hum is back

Tim Scammell, PTech said...


Lynx said...

woops! ;) I forgot the link