Tuesday, July 18, 2006

choose life

I nearly died of embarrassment today. This morning, actually. No I am not using this expression to make a point. I did do something really stupid in front of a number of people.

I lost my keys. I lost my keys and I had to call 1) someone to give me a ride to the dealership to get new car keys 2) the dealership to find out how to get new keys 3) someone to give me a copy of the key of his girlfirend's apartment for whom I am housesitting. 4) the roommate of someone #3 to get the keys because #3 is out of town right now.

Plus I had to explain to all of my new co-workers why I was frantically throwing stuff around in various and sundry cubicle areas. And I had to go back to two different offices in other parts of the building to see if I left them there.

And after all the hullabaloo, I stopped in my office one last time to look around where there on the back of random chair in the room was my jacket which I forgot I had worn because it turned out to be such a beautiful day. And of course, there in the pocket of my jacket were my happy jingling keys.

Which, of course, dictated that I re-call someone #1 to cancel my ride and someone #4 to cancel arrangements for getting a copy of the key. I blew off the rest of them.

So now you know how I nearly died today. But of course, I didn't die. I didn't even come close. I know, I know, it is only an expression right? But think about what happens when we "just about die" from embarrassment.

Your friend tells your crush that you've lusted after him or her for ages. You get drunk, make an ass of yourself, and the next day it all comes flooding back to you. You forget to bring the presentation materials. You cc All on an email when it was supposed to go to one person on the list. You trip in front of a room full of people. At bowling, mid-swing, the ball slips off your fingers, does a flip behind you and lands at your heels. You're caught in flagrante delicto -- jacking off, breaking your diet, reading People magazine.

What happens?

Everything stops. You hear nothing but a dull roar of blood in your ears. You are not breathing, you are not seeing, you are not speaking or if you are it makes no sense whatsoever. You are hot and cold. You are lost. You are scrambling, drowning, clawing at the coffin door.


It might only last for a second. Eventually the light of life suffuses you again. Breathe, senses restart and you go on. Or it might last a lifetime. You might rather die than have to face those people or that thing again. You might die a little every time you remember. Frozen in your tracks, in your thoughts, senseless, lost.

Or it might not happen at all. You can choose not to almost die. I didn't actually almost die this morning. Not literally. Not figuratively. Sorry, I lied. I was just using that expression to make a point.

I chose a long, long time ago that things like this are not worth fretting over ... once I came to accept the idea that I am a spacecadet and will periodically lose or misplace important things in front of other people. And more importantly, even if I do, who cares what someone else thinks of it or me.

That's the odd thing about dying of embarrassment. You are dying for someone else. It is different from dying of shame or guilt because that is about a moral or ethical question. That is usually about real harm, psychic or physical, that you cause someone else.

But embarrassment? Do we really have to die of embarrassment? Next time it starts to happen, think it over for a second. Take a deep breath first. Death is not all it is cracked up to be. Choose life, my friend.


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