After 3 days of listening to pathetic stories of an abusive relationship that I didn’t really want to hear and couldn’t do anything about, I left my county courthouse to let the other jurors do their job of deliberation.
As an alternate on the jury, my job was simply to witness the load of unpleasantness. I was there just in case I was needed, but in this case, I wasn’t. All I was supposed to do was observe. Not participate.
Just watch and listen.
And keep my mouth shut.
When it came time to actually talk about what we had witnessed, not only did I NOT get to be a part of the discussion (meaning I did not get to say anything at all... not a single friggen word) but I wasn’t even allowed to hear the other thought processes.
That made it even harder to swallow, let alone understand, the verdict that this group of seemingly normal people came up with~ I could not (and still can’t) understand how on earth they got to the conclusion they did after observing the exact same things as me.
I’ve been on 3 juries in my life, and started out feeling like I was participating in an important process. Jury duty has never been what I would consider fun exactly, but that last experience left me feeling disheartened, disappointed and confused. My mind was both boggled and dismayed at the world and the people in it.
Perhaps worst of all……. the feeling of helplessness was literally sickening.
(I’ve since read psychological articles advocating for helping jurors process the traumas they see in the same way that police officers are counseled after a gnarly event, but that’s a whole nother topic.)
Anyhoo~ the point is I realized then that I really, really don’t like witnessing~ Especially things I can’t do anything about. I pretty much hate it.
At the time, I thought the universe was giving me a some sort of lesson, like about letting go of illusions of control or maybe about the importance of just observing and allowing or some other load of bummerness. I really did try to understand it and learn, but it really felt more like “blah, blah, blah~ here’s a bunch of depressing poop for ya.”
Over a year later, and many more chances to witness things I can’t do anything about, (which in all honesty felt less like opportunities and more like punishment) and I am still sort of wondering what exactly is the point of all this witnessing?
Not to be negative, but I’m just not seeing any positive in watching train wrecks unless you get your butt out of the car and try to help people out, or at least call 911 or lobby for safer crossings or something….anything.
Just not nothing (I’m sure that double negative breaks some grammar rules, but I’m hoping that some sort of mathematical probability will apply ~ like where the double negative cancels the negativity out, making the whole thing at least a neutral and factual statement.)
The thing is, doing nothing doesn’t really seem like nothing. It seems like it’s allowing messed up things to happen without any deterrent. I know it isn’t always useful, helpful or appropriate to speak up or act out when you see something wrong, but sitting there acting like it’s not a problem just reinforces its acceptance and lets it grow.
In recent months I’ve watched people I know and care about be real buttheads to each other. It was difficult and painful. I tried distractions like providing food and entertaining banter, and I tried communicating my concerns about what I felt I was observing, even if I’m pretty sure it wasn’t heard or understood. Mostly, I felt like I was not able to do anything to stop it, and for my own health, I had to just go on and wish them blessings on their journey.
I realize it’s always easier to figure out other people’s problems and I generally try to not be judgemental, although to be honest, I sometimes fail. As if to remind me that I have a plank in my own eye, a whole lotta instances of buttheadedness happened within my own home shortly after I thought I knew how to fix the splinter in my friends’ family..
More recently, I’ve watched people I care about on painfully obvious self destructive paths and while I want to help and fix things and I have 5 billion potential ideas of how to make things better, it seems that for the most part, once again, all I can do is witness.
It’s bad enough with strangers in a courtroom, but with people you know in real life, the ones who are actually a part of your circle and you love….well, that’s just friggen lame.
And it sucks.
And it sucks further when I try to communicate with all of the best of intentions, but it doesn’t help. At all.
It’s always amazed me to think that some people are actually able to listen to other people’s problems for a living. Like all day long. They must have some sort of ‘anti get involved shield’ that I lack. I can’t even watch the news or scary shows without feeling depressed, panicked and hopeless.
I find psychology fascinating, but I could never be a therapist. Besides the fact that I lack the appropriate degree and there’s probably laws against that, I also have a very low tolerance for BS and time wasting. If things can be fixed, I want to see it happen, not just listen and wait while people process and continue in suffering for a billion years.
There comes a time to quit whining and get busy fixing whatever you’re complaining.
Plus I have no poker face, so if I think something is appalling, or not very smart or just a really bad idea, even if I somehow manage to keep my boca shut, my face will say it for me.
Sometimes though, things need to be said. Not by strangers on the internet who want to crucify and spew venom about people they don’t even know, but by people who care.
It’s a lot easier to call out someone you don’t know anonymously than to speak up to someone who are going to see and interact with again.
Years ago, a good friend and I were talking about some young pop star whose life was spiraling into a chaotic mess in the way that they often do. In addition to pondering why and how, we wondered where this person’s friends were ~ you know, like REAL FRIENDS, and what if anything they were saying to her about it.
Since I’m not in the world of this pop star, I don’t really know if anyone was saying anything, but it seems in the world I see first hand, people often don’t speak up about things close to home. Sure we talk smack about celebrities and people in the media, but when it comes to the people close to us, we keep quiet as they sink.
My friend and I decided back then that real friends are willing to do the hard work of calling each other out. We made a pact that even if one of us became rich and famous, the other would still call BS when we saw it. We would love each other anyway, but we wouldn’t silently witness a trainwreck.
So far, we haven’t needed it, but it’s good to know someone has your back.
I just got the notice that I’m call for jury duty again soon, and it filled me with more than the usual dread….not just at the potentially long and boring days of waiting around in an unpleasant environment, not just at the lost work hours and pay, but at the thought of witnessing the ugly side of humanity.
Maybe my cynical face will get me out of it. I hope so because I don’t think my heart is up for that.
How about you~ Can you just witness? How do you watch, listen and wait in life without saying or doing anything?
If you enjoyed my rambling, please let me know in the comments below, and share it with a friend!
I’ve spent the much of last week trying to avoid clicking on the video of the young boy who managed to climb / fall into a gorilla pit at the Cincinnati Zoo. We all know how it ended~ not so well for the gorilla.
I tried to avoid reading much about it either because it’s an all around awful and sad situation that I can’t do anything about, but unpleasant things don’t go away just by ignoring them. Especially not on the internet.
Angry mobs formed quickly with burning torches looking for someone to blame.
Years ago, after the death of my own firstborn, I learned that sometimes there just isn’t anyone to blame. Sure, it’s natural to want to find someone to direct our anger and pain at, but sometimes awful things just happen and it’s not really anyone’s fault.
Some rage went towards the zoo, but for the most part, the mother is the one people are blaming. And viciously.
Why do people always blame the mother? (Unless of course there’s a step-mother~then, of course, it’s her fault.)
Of all the negative “bad parent” commentary I’ve come across, a tiny fraction, like maybe 2 comments have even referred to both parents. The rest just blame the mom. The dad doesn’t count I guess?
The thing is, I’m pretty sure all of us could be that mom.
I think if anyone who has actually raised children can say that their kid never got into mischief while they blinked, they are most likely delusional or dishonest.
Kids get into stuff and make mischief. Some are faster than others, and some are smarter than others, but kids exploring the world and making bad choices while giving their parents and the world at large collective grey hair and heart attacks, well.. it’s a pretty natural thing. It happens to all of us.
Maybe the mom was normally super attentive, and this day she was a bit distracted? Maybe she’s always distracted ~ but since I don’t actually know her, I have no idea, and I sure as heck don’t want to judge her.
Although most people are acting like she’s a negligent monster, I did see one writer say she’s a hero~ although I’m really not sure why.
One thing I know for sure is that she could be just about any of us. I could picture at least one of my kids might trying something like climbing into a gorilla cage at age 4.
What I cannot picture is myself remaining calm or even staying on the other side of the fence. I imagine I’d probably jump the barrier myself and use some psychic animal whisperer communication skills to let the gorilla know we were cool. I often connect with animals better than humans so soon we’d all be friends and everyone, including the gorilla would live happily ever after.
Of course, just because I imagine it that way, doesn’t mean that’s what I would actually do in real life at all. I also imagine that I would land my jump into the enclosure gracefully, but realistically, even that isn’t all that likely. I might freeze, I might scream maniacally~ who knows?
I do know for sure that while I’d be super relieved and grateful to have my kid back, I’d also be mortified and heartbroken over the death of the gorilla.
I considered that perhaps if I saw the video, I might have a better understanding of why the people in charge made the choices they did, but really I don’t think so. I think I’d just be bummed.
All I can do is give thanks for my own happy, healthy and sometimes still mischievous kids and know that Gorilla Mom could just have easily been me. Or any of us.
Who is Zesty Mom?
I'm an Artist, Writer, Funschooling Facilitator, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, Former Goat Herding Chicken Lady, and Full Time Mamacita Extraordinaire to a Couple of Cage Free Kids.
I Made This For You:
Other Places I've Been Featured:
Stuff I Like: