Posted by: Scott | January 12, 2010

Smelling the 800-lb. Gorilla…

Last month, I read a discussion about how we tend to willingly distract ourselves to avoid dealing with potentially unpleasant tasks or circumstances, often referred to as the 800-lb. gorilla sitting quietly in the corner of the room. Distractions are perfectly good (for a while) for dealing with post-traumatic stress, but not very useful when you really have to tell your roommate what deadbeat they are. So anyway, I got to thinking about all the ‘distractions’ we oftentimes willingly put in front of ourselves to avoid doing or confronting something else. (By the way, I say this in full recognition of my hypocrisy, for I should at this very moment be attending to another, more important writing project. I just l-o-v-e the art of procrastination, don’t you?)  

The art of procrastination - perfected to a science!

So why do we try so hard to avoid dealing with the 800-lb gorilla in the corner of the room that we all know we’ll have wrestle with sooner or later? Of course, it’s so much easier to turn on the TV and catch up on whichever celebrity has managed to get themselves into trouble this time, or check out how our favourite team is doing. Or, go the mall and engage in some retail therapy. Or just pick up a bottle wash it all away for a while.

But the gorilla’s still there, and there would appear to be a lot of gorillas lurking in the corners of our lives. What do they look like? How about a little Afghanistan, with some Iraq on the side? (Or is it the other way around? Eurasia, East Asia – Orwell must be spinning in his grave.) Here we have a couple of very big gorillas that can also serve as distractions from an even bigger one – like overcoming our dependence on finite resources, perhaps?

How about some others? Let’s see: broken political systems wherever you go; a hopelessly backward economy that rewards the few instead of all; a general unwillingness to notice, much less help, our neighbours; criminalizing homelessness; oh, and ecosystem breakdown, just to name a few. I’ll stop there, just in case you’re already reeling from the thought of wrestling all those gorillas at once, which at some point we’ll have to, anyway.

When we finally do get around to it, we might just realize that those gorillas really aren’t that big and scary after all, and we’ll wonder why ever it took us so damned long to look up from our distractions, however entertaining, and take some kind of action. I just thought I’d remind you (and me) so we can put down the TV remote and let Tiger Woods deal with his screwed-up love life all by himself. I’m sure he would appreciate it.


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