If It Ain’t Broke …

by Ted Gargiulo

I think of all the times I’ve written people letters, sent gifts, made inquiries, offered constructive criticism…and been totally ignored. So I’m not without sympathy (theoretically speaking) for other disenchanted schleps like myself, waiting in limbo for responses that they may never receive. But never did I imagine that I, of all people, could be the perpetrator of such neglect.  Not I, who’ve wasted years, it seems, hoping to hear from companies or individuals who PROMISED to get back to me! 

Sadly, after some recent soul searching, I must face the fact that I’m not the prompt, courteous communicator I’d like to think I am. Nor do I always treat others the way I’d want to be treated, good intentions notwithstanding. Have I forgotten how it feels to be treated badly? Perhaps, of necessity, I’ve MADE myself forget. Perhaps I’ve become so desensitized, so indifferent to my own disappointments, that I fail to consider how this cavalier attitude might affect my relationship with others. That’s hardly an excuse for my rude behavior, merely a fanciful (if pathetic) attempt to explain it.

My discernment of time these days is wonky at best. A week, a month, three months—all feel about the same to me. I can barely tell Spring from Autumn anymore; AM from PM; this year from last year. Life feels like one long day to me. People and events I once perceived as distinct and separate, now blur together in my mind. Shutting them out is easier than locating the mute button on my TV remote. They’re like objects one sees every day, but ceases to notice—like my semiannual auto insurance cards that I keep in a designated place so I’ll remember when it’s time to replace the old ones…only to discover that they expired long before I got around to slipping them into my wallet. I tell you, there are enough holes in my head to strain spaghetti!?
I’ve got papers piled on my desk that I’ve yet to go through, books sitting around that I’ve never finished reading, articles that I began sketching and totally forgot about. (Some, I eventually developed and submitted.) I’m constantly uncovering letters that I’d started ages ago, then abandoned. Apparently I’d lost interest in the conversation and moved on.

There’s this busted sun visor in my car that’s been dangling in my face for years, blocking my view and irritating the crap out of me. The only time I think of it, however, is when I’m behind the wheel, and I tell myself, “Dang, I gotta repair that blame thing someday!” The moment I arrive home, the thought vanishes. It’s like changing channels, or stage sets. The lights black out on one scene, then come up on a different one. That is, until the next time I enter the car, see the visor, get pissed all over again, and remember, “Dang, I need to repair that!” So it goes.

Having this dysfunctional memory has caused me much grief and embarrassment. Yet, like my broken sun visor, it’s a dysfunction I’ve learned to laugh at. The mental detachment is oddly comforting. It releases me from the stress of taking the world, or myself, too seriously, and assures me that not everything that’s “broke” can be fixed.  Nor should it be.

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