/BY EDEN FARBER/ //AJT CONTRIBUTOR// Eden Farber
Carefully stepping over small, dirty puddles on the street – the only things left of Atlanta’s “snowpocalypse” two weeks ago – I am reminded that nothing is permanent. Neither snow nor sunshine; neither destruction nor peace.
This impermanence is only enhanced by our fast-paced lifestyle. We require almost instantaneous gratification for something to be up to our standards.
Scrolling through Facebook newsfeeds, death is replaced by birth is replaced by politics is replaced by romance, before anyone can get a chance to process what any of that actually means to us. We want our fast food to be faster, and we want the fastest way of getting it.
When Phillip Seymour Hoffman died, everyone was very quick to mourn the loss of a great person and his talent to an overdose of heroin. Everyone was buzzing with tellings and retellings of the story—until Aaron Sorkin, renowned screenwriter and actor told his telling.
He had known Hoffman personally and reflected on their past conversations about their relationships with substance abuse. But one reflection stood out: “[Hoffman] did not die from an overdose of heroin — he died from heroin. We should stop implying that if he’d just taken the proper amount then everything would have been fine.”
By making that implicit argument, that is was the overdose and not the dose that was detrimental; we lose sight of the real problem.
You can cover up just about anything with leaves, but eventually, the wind will blow at the right place and the right time, and what was hidden will be revealed.
Without attempting to sum up all the sad and disturbing truths of sub- stance abuse, I’d like to try to understand why everyone is comfortable acknowledging the short-term problem (an overdose) and less comfortable focusing on the long-term one (drug addictions and a lack of community).
Short-term problems are easy to fix. I’m hungry; I eat. I have a headache; I take Ibuprofen. I feel a void; I fill it. But we have problems, personal or cultural, that are not ephemeral and require our full attention. We can’t ignore the roots.
We’re not going to slow down, that’s the truth of the matter. Regression is not the answer. We’ve made amazing progress over the centuries. But while our fast-paced society has its ups, it also has its downs.
It’s rather incredible that I can scroll through the world’s happenings in about 20 seconds. All the information is easily accessible in front of me.
With the tap of my finger I can see the world.
But that means I also need to be wary of forgetting that the world is much bigger than my finger can reach. When I scroll through wars, there are people dying on the other side of my computer. I cannot forget what it means to be a part of that world, the one I can’t always see, as well as my own.
Carefully stepping over small, dirty puddles on the street, I am reminded that sometimes all we need is a simple reminder – as little as a pool of water on the ground – to get us back on track.
Atlanta’s Eden Farber, 16, was recognized in the Jewish Heritage National Poetry Contest of 2010 and has published op-eds and poetry in Modern Hippie Magazine and the NY Jewish Week’s Fresh Ink for Teens section.