No trombone zone

Many of us are suffering from mental fatigue in varying degrees. The negativity that has been the recurrent theme of the past year has affected us all.

We try to laugh, but it’s forced, or our laughter is inappropriate. Others’ attempts to lighten our moods fail, or meet with resistance.

We feel angry and express that anger all too often.

We’re edgy, and cranky. Sometimes we say things we don’t mean, and wish we could take them back.

I’ve had too many “Debbie Downer moments” recently, when I’ve said something completely irrelevant to the conversation that sucked the joy from the moment. I heard the “wah-wah” of the trombone even as the words exited my mouth, and wished I could rewind, or highlight and delete.

On some occasions, tubas have joined the trombones.

I used to take pride in my ability to laugh at myself, but there’s no way to reframe these moments as humorous. My commentary wasn’t purposely hurtful, critical, or inaccurate. It wasn’t malicious, cruel or insensitive. It was, quite simply, stupid. That’s not suggesting it was excusable.

To their credit, those who know me well have laughed and teased me afterwards, witnessing my horrified and humiliated expression. Some have flashed disapproving looks, and others’ faces have expressed bemusement that I’ve said something they agreed with, but knew better than to express aloud.

Stupid statements can’t be ignored, or worse, glossed over. They most certainly cannot be forgotten. They can sometimes be forgiven, depending on who made them, and the circumstances in which they’re made, but there’s no way to retract the words once they’ve been uttered, either verbally or in print.

We all have the right to express our views honestly. Irony, sarcasm and parody have their place, and context is important.

I’ve never been and do not aspire to be, a preacher. This is intended to be an apology, rather than an explanation. When someone offers a sincere apology, the circumstances and the apologist’s character should be considered, but neither is exculpatory.

This is also a promise. I will make a conscious effort to think before I speak, to choose my words carefully, and to be thoughtful of those who hear, or read, my words.

If I fail, please bring the entire brass section of the orchestra, and the marching band.

If you think I’m deserving, please forgive me.

About Jane Wilson

Jane Wilson graduated from the University of Michigan Law School, was a trial attorney for 25 years and has served on the faculty of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy on numerous occasions. She was an Adjunct Professor of Law at Cleveland State University for several years and served as an Interim Associate Professor of Law in the clinical program at Case Law School. In 2009, she returned to the small southwestern Michigan community where she was raised, and wrote a novel.
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8 Responses to No trombone zone

  1. Hello, Debbie Downer. Nice to meet you. I’m Michael Downer. You speak for a huge swath of individuals. We’re struggling, we’re coping, we’re trying to be positive. Each time we make progress, another revelation, asinine statement, or insane decision arises, dragging us back down.

    Oh, forgiven, of course. I’d rather have someone critically thinking and making downer remarks than someone drinking the joy juice and pretending it’s a wonderful.


  2. Jane Wilson says:

    Thanks. I so need my friends, always.

  3. Michael said it perfectly. Orchestras need brass. We need brass. Desperately. 🙂

  4. sammee44 says:

    I do like Michael’s reply too–good for both of you. At least you’re not tweeting or is it twittering–oops, am I allowed to mention tweets and twits. . . ?

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