Dealing with bad news, gossip and rumors

IT is time for the bad news.

I think of the bad news as a huge bird, an albatross with wings of a crow, the face of Hydra, rancid teeth and a wrinkling frown; sailing around the world under cover of darkness pleased to be the bearer of ill tidings.  Carrying a basket of rotten eggs, it knows exactly where to drop them.  

On me, for one.

Now it’s right there on the table, but there is a basic courtesy required for others’ need to wallow mindlessly, free of bad news at least, before their first cup of coffee.   Just as others need to spew catastrophe, some bilious green bad news gland or bladder inside them will burst and they’ll get peritonitis of the soul, if they don’t exhale halitosis of the intellect.  Others call this affliction malignant narcissism.

Is bad news worse with pictures?  I think so. Pictures make you look, whether you want to or not.  Children massacred, or world leaders killed by an assassin’s bullet to end a regime. But what about character assassination, the perpetual blood sport? That which feeds nothing noble among humans?  Not even echo can answer that. 

I’m not impervious to bad news.  In my years of crime reporting, I ate tragedy, and shocking news for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  I had access to people’s emotional pains and tragedies.  With a tourniquet in my heart, watched careers derailed, homes fractured; but I wrote it with complete understanding of wounded souls — void of literary sarcasm. 

I am not hardened by bad news. On the contrary I am angular.  With less body fat now than I did before the Big C, I have less capacity to absorb, cushion, or to turn the calories of bad news (and it does have calories).  It raises your blood pressure into the substance of your own body. 

We don’t like gossips, but we need it.  We need to know about it, in case it’s coming our way.  It conjures up herd of deer in the meadow, heads down grazing, peacefully by a rippling brook. Then, woof-woof — wild dogs in the woods.  Heads up, ears forward; prepare to flee — or the musk ox defense. Wolves approaching are the bad news. Snort and paw the ground¸ prepare to horn the enemy, except that we  humans are not brutes without souls.

A beautiful day that smells of fruits and flowers means nothing to barbarians.  In fact, they prefer to invade during beautiful days.  It provides more visibility for looting and massacre.  But they were, long ago, far away and not in our lifetime, perhaps; the barbarians of our genre. They are those young brainwashed in character, dreaming of 77 virgins welcoming them in paradise.  These are news that assail nostrils like an offensive perfume, a slap on the face, scourging the soul.

There was bad news long before we were born, and now we’ll get through it, especially if we get the bad news early.  If you got it, and understood it, then you’ll have known what to do. 

I’ve personally dealt with bad news. Gossips and rumors, I think.  Portents, forebodings:  Birds in flight, like sparrows; flitting in and out of the barn. Bad news are sheep’s entrails.  You never know if the news is true until it pounces, until it’s on top of you, until you reach out in the night and there’s no more breathing, you’re howling in darkness.  Why some creatures can’t discriminate between healthy freedom and sick license, even an echo cannot answer that.

But we’ve faced it head on.  I am still alright.  We have no wounds, no blood pouring out…we are not scorched.  We got through the worst bad news.

Now while everything seems to take longer than it did before, we all want to get on with our lives in spite of the bad news — too much of it.  Sometime we can’t take it.

Today, on an early fall morning, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, there’s no reason not the feel pretty good.  The bad news comes from so far away…most of them explosions, oil spills, genocides, famine, and the Arabs spring copious blood spilled in the quest of freedom.  There will be other news later.  There always is, but we’ll worry about it when it comes.

And I don’t have to write about it anymore.


E-mail Mylah at [email protected].

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