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Faithbook

by MISSY BEATTIE

On Facebook, I was scrolling the thread of posts from “friends.”  One was open-wound personal, a wretched couple of sentences about how someone treats him, someone about whom he cares.  Yeesh.

Most of my “friends” put up political articles, deliciously radical statuses, thought provokers, music, and videos.

I don’t want sound bites of wrenching, molecular-level emotion.  But even as I complete that sentence, I’m thinking that for the last few months, I’ve been writing pages of self-pity, about the death the death (that’s not a typo) of my husband, some of the saddest words I’ve ever told.  And, suddenly, that “ever told” delivers a jolt of childhood contamination, “the greatest story ever told,” to the entrance at my molecular level where all my personal data is stored.  And that thought leads to the stories we’ve been told.  From the biblical, mystical, praise-the-lord, blame-the-devil, I-love-the-lord bias to another that embraces American exceptionalism and imperialism to, well, both—God-bless-America speak, stockpiled to drag out at every opportunity for the national obliteration of reason.

I wrote the above before my cell rang.  After answering, talktalktalking, I couldn’t remember where I wanted to go with this piece.  And you’d think I would be able to read the four paragraphs up there, and say, “Oh, yeah.”

So, while I wait for those lost chords to shatter some glass, I’ll tell you what’s going on in my life.

I went to IstanbuI, visited all the must-sees. I walked, ascended alleys that became steps, flattening to plateaus for a breath, and, then, became downward paths. I ate my way across the neighborhoods.

Oh, and Laura and Erma and my children, John and Hunter, and Hunter’s girlfriend Casey were with me.  I can’t write anything better than to tell you I’m smiling, now, right here, as my fingers dance across these keys that feel smooth as the marble in the mosques we toured.

I’ve written already about part of the trip.  Not the 11-hour flight. Told Laura I’d forgotten that babies are allowed on airplanes.  Crybabies.

At home in Baltimore, I’ve continued reading, writing, writhing, and arrhythmia (the latter two during attempts at meditation).

One of my dearest friends, also a Facebooker, wrote, “Welcome back.”

Facebook.  That’s it.  The word is up there in the first paragraph, so why didn’t it spark a neuronal ignition when I couldn’t board the thought train earlier?  No matter.  I’m back on that circuit I was traveling when I tripped a breaker and chased a nonhazardous arc.

So, I was writing about exposing intimate thoughts on Facebook, the social network with which I have a love/hate relationship. I look at the word.  It becomes Faithbook.

And I wonder if there are parents who’d name their child Face Book __________.  Insert surname.  Weirder combinations of concepts have been introduced. I offer this illustration: Sage Moonblood Stallone.  And I go UGH, not only for finding fault but, also, about how horrible I am, because Sage Moonblood died, recently.  I’m thinking that even if the death weren’t recent, it, still, would be horrible, and how horrible I am.  I don’t want children to die.  Anywhere.  Okay, he wasn’t a child, as are many the Empire has droned, but he wasn’t old, a man who’s had what we might call a “complete” life, which is what my husband’s dear friend said.  And it really helped: “Missy, you have to start believing that Charles had a complete life.”  And it helped.  I said that, already.

Within a few minutes of being helped, though, I had this thought: “But MY life is incomplete without him.”

And, now, I’m considering how fortunate I was, am, and may continue to be.  I know someone who made a split-second mistake in judgment and is incarcerated. This person, who is compassionate and kind, I met before I knew the accusation, and that mitigates the circumstances for me.  Touches my empathy.

So, I’m going to turn negatives that start spinning in my cranium into positives.  It’s what I’ve been working on, lately.  And I don’t mean atrocities that affect the masses, like US foreign and domestic policy.  I’m talking about the he said/ she said or he did/she did in my tiny orbit.  Something’s bothering me, I take it and give it a little pinball-machine tilt before shaping it into a gift.  It works.  I’m smiling, thinking about it.  Here, I’ll try to give you an example.  No, I won’t.  That would be a little too much like the people (I feel AWFUL about criticizing) who write all that stuff—the people I should be sitting face to face (not Face staring at book) with, in a real friend conversation, where I could reach out with eye contact, facial expression, my body English, and touch, flesh to flesh, gently.   And I see it.  I see that I’m going to have to take this and roll it around in the strings of my netting to play it into optimism.

Missy Beattie lives in Baltimore.  Email:  missybeat@gmail.com.         

 

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Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

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