Torn tissues of wonderment

The dog, with its appetite for used Kleenex, got into the garbage this morning. I spent several minutes trying to extract the soggy tissue from the bathmat, early-a.m. fingers failing to pull the fibres out of the fabric.

“Kind of a metaphor for what people are feeling right now, the sense of loss and sadness,” I thought. “You can try to pick up the pieces but it’s elusive, almost impossible, and it’s never going to completely go away.”

And then I thought, “Are you kidding me? You’re comparing the random violent death of children to dog-chewed Kleenex? Seriously?”

I forgave myself, and I hope you do too, because I don’t think I’m alone. Over the past several days, I’ve heard and read words from lot of people struggling to deal with the sheer awfulness of Newtown, trying to make sense of the senseless. There are those who have ordained themselves to explain why this happened, as if such a tragedy can ever be explained. No surprise that those who feel they have the answers also have agendas to push, and sadly often hate-filled agendas.

Newtown can’t be explained. It can only be felt. And so the job falls to the jumble of words to express those feelings. It falls to metaphor – even clunky, inappropriately trite metaphor.

But I think we need to recognize the power of those words in this time of inexplicability. I’ve heard people despairing for humanity, wondering how we can go on, how we can live in a place where this happens and is allowed to happen. Yet look what we can do! Just with words! Look how we can imagine and comfort and express our feelings. How amazing are we? How amazing is our potential for wondrous things?

Most of the blogs I read are humour blogs, and it’s these writers who seem to be having the roughest time. It feels wrong to be funny, about anything, disrespectful somehow. And it’s true. I feel it too. We felt the same way after 9/11. Remember the notion that irony was dead? As if that could ever be! Irony! The most sophisticated and subtly complicated notion in language. Go ahead: just try to explain irony. And yet we know it when we see it and it is devastating and powerful and often hilarious. How could we ever think of abandoning such a gift?

As part of the arsenal of language, humour may be the greatest weapon of them all. It can be used to poke or tickle, even heal. As humour writers, this is our role and our duty.

What do children do better than anyone else? They laugh. We never laugh more and with greater abandon than when we are children. Among the Top 10 Moments of New Parenthood, very few rank higher than that first time a baby laughs. She laughed? She laughed! She thinks it’s funny. She is… human!

I bet the children of Sandy Hook were great laughers. Their laughter is gone now and my heart is sick when I think about that. I want to cry when I imagine their final moments of terror. But we owe it to them to carry on their childlike sense of this world’s astounding wonderment.

Humans are magical, humans are brilliant, humans are terribly, maddeningly flawed. Let’s keep living and celebrate that gift by being creative, using our imaginations, sharing joy and making really atrocious puns.


About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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19 Responses to Torn tissues of wonderment

  1. I will be back – I will be using humor – I love humor for so many reasons… this was too close to home for me ~ but I love your words and you are so right about laughter. Thank you.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      I know you will be. And, believe me, I’m not trying to belittle anyone’s pain or silence. These are how my own feelings are coming out.

      • Never would I think you’re belittling anything. Humor is the greatest gift for healing grief I’ve come across.

        For several years I did vocational evaluations – and I used humor to cope with a lot really sad crap –
        I made up a song about Tardive dyskinesia sung to the tune of “I’ve been working on the railroad” – it was highly inappropriate but made me & my boss giggle (not cruelly) and helped to dispel some of the really horrid things we were helping people deal with…and we didn’t sing it to them….but humor is a gift –

  2. Ericka Clay says:

    I respect your views and I agree wholeheartedly on the agendas aspect, but right now for me and for a lot of people, it’s a time to cope. No matter how one moves forward in light of tragedy, I think we can both agree it’s a personal decision.

    Also? A very well written piece.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Absolutely. And, as I said to Rutabaga, I’m not disrespecting or belittling anyone’s silence.

      I have four children. One is in Malaysia right now; we Skyped two nights ago. Another one yesterday drove to and from Montreal in snow and freezing rain. I’ve been flooded with moments of anxiety since last Friday that this or that moment will be the last time I see my children. It’s awful. But I can’t let that fear rule my world. Because this world and my kids rock! You sometimes hear people say, “They’ve gone to a better place.” Well, what better place is there than this!

      Coping, coping, yes, coping…. I’m not making much sense but I’m coping…

      Also: thank you.


  3. breezyk says:

    I know how you feel.. Yesterday I observed an unofficial blog day of silence. I just couldn’t find the words.. I hope readers won’t see the fact that I’m back to regular posting now as being disrespectful, but laughter helps us get through these situations

    • rossmurray1 says:

      I doubt very much that anyone will find it disrespectful. It’s about tact and, I guess, subject matter. One of my funniest Facebook friends, Whitney Collins (Google her stuff; you won’t be disappointed), slammed people Friday for posting Instagrams of their burritos. Like, really?

      If anyone knows about timing, it should be humour writers.

      I’ll be back in form too later this week. I’ve got to say, though, I’ve had an assignment to write a light-humour Christmas piece and it’s been brutal.

  4. Even for me that I write senseless posts has been hard to come up with something. I’ve refrained from posting anything related to this tragedy, I wrote a post after reading about what the WBC was planning to do, I was beyond pissed, the post was too political so I left it as a draft and tried to keep my blog as normal and neutral as possible.
    I really liked your post, well said.

  5. Nic says:

    Been struggling with this since last week, and your perspective on the whole laughing thing is really helping me out right, so thank you for this post. (Also, I agree with your above statement — being serious is REALLY unnerving!)

  6. The Hook says:

    Everyone does this; all you did was adapt recent events to fit your world-view. In this case, that means cleaning up after your dog.
    Don’t fret, my friend. You’re going to be all right.

  7. Maggie O'C says:

    This is going up on Facebook and thank you to Nic for sending me to your page. I have teenage kids so this is going to be educational as well as entertaining.

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