night swimming deserves a quiet night

My latest post on Overthinking It compares The Demolished Man vs. Demolition Man – the 1951 Alfred Bester novel to the 1993 Sylvester Stallone action flick. They have more in common than a name, you know. (Serpico deserves some credit for inspiring the initial comparison: thanks Serp)

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Imagine the following two different scenarios.

  1. You and a loved one – a close friend, a family member, a spouse or significant other – get into an argument. It’s not a violent disagreement; just some petty nonsense that you really don’t have time to deal with. You part in bad spirits. Later, another friend calls, asking you something you’ve told them a dozen times already: you snap at them in response.
  2. You’re getting up from your desk at work. You bang your knee on the corner of your desk. It’s not a serious injury – just one of those sharp bumps that makes your eyes water and your breathing tight. A coworker stops by, asking you something you’ve told them a dozen times already: you snap at them in response.

Which is the more “legitimate” reaction: #1 or #2? Which is you just lashing out?

Once you’re comfortable with that answer, imagine these two.

  1. A close friend tells you about a loss that a family member or loved one has recently had. In sympathy with their suffering, you feel your breath start to come short and tears prick at the corners of your eyes. You feel rather subdued for a while; maybe an hour, maybe the rest of the day.
  2. You’re working out: maybe doing yoga, maybe just stretching after a run. You go into a really deep stretch and hold it until the muscle aches. As the muscle starts to shift out of its tension, you feel your breath start to come short and tears prick at the corners of your eyes. You feel rather subdued for a while; maybe an hour, maybe the rest of the day.

Again: which is the more “legitimate” reaction: #1 or #2?

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Busy today; my thoughts on the above questions aren’t fully formed yet. More to come at a later date.

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