Monday, July 31, 2006

The Long Tail

The problem with difficulty is that it is a beast with a very long tail. If you have experienced a life-altering crisis, it will have a profound effect on your life for a very long time. There is a way in which the long tail is the hardest thing to deal with. You and the community around you arise to the moment when the crisis explodes. You are moved with grief and compassion. But, long after the moment of crisis, the tail of difficulty remains. It is hard to live when you are still being whipped around by the tail.

Difficulty really does have a long tail. Perhaps it's the long tail of devastating financial implications. Or maybe it's the long tail of lasting injuries. Or it could be the long tail of unanswerable questions about the furture. Or the long tail of loneliness and alienation. Or the long tail of profound life questions that are just below the surface all the time. Or the long tail of fears about recovery. Perhaps it's the long tail of unbelievably long days, trapped in three rooms of a house. Maybe it's the long tail of contemplating over and over again how much you have lost. Or it could be the long tail of wondering where your friends are and what they are doing? Or it could be the long tail of anger and envy that never seem too far away.

The immediate crisis is over for Nicole, but the struggle is far from over. The beast hasn't left her room, because this beast has a very long tail. It is the long tail of difficulty that Nicole (and we) are dealing with right now. There are moments when we deal with it well and there are times when it feel as if we've taken all the whipping we can take from the tail.

We grab hold of the hope that we do not deal with the long tail alone. There is another sufferer who exposed himself to the long tail of suffering so that we would have help when our moment of difficulty seems like it has gone on too long.


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