I’ve been thinking lately that plaque, or dust, is a phenomenon that happens in many places: on furniture, on our teeth, in our arteries. I know I could learn how to avoid it or remove it or reduce it or manage it, but right now I’m interested in the fact that it “happens” – it’s a phenomenon, and unless you do avoid or remove it, it just happens.
OK, maybe it doesn’t happen to the enlightened, but in my life it just seems to happen.
And it seems to accumulate and harden, the way layers of dust do, the way cold grease does. It becomes many things: a closing down, an eating-away, a covering-over.
I started thinking that shame might be spiritual plaque. Plaque on my soul. Sharing, airing, excavating – these seem to sometimes dislodge it – and then what? What do you do with it, this thing you’ve worked so hard to extract out of you?
Apparently that’s not really something you need to worry about, as I heard in Elizabeth Gilbert’s interview with Tami Simon on “Sounds True”, “The world doesn’t want your shame… [it’s] of no use to anybody. It’s not of any use to you either … you kind of just have to let it go.”
And that makes sense. Who’d want a box of dust I collected? I wouldn’t. Or … well … let’s not go there right now.
So at dinner last night I asked Ben and Jonathan:
What’s the equivalent of dental floss for shame?
We didn’t know, so we started talking about a worldwide charity video game tournament that Ben watched ’til 5AM in which teams of videogame champions were pitted against each other.
Which made me wish that I could set up ensemble-playing sessions for my online students around the world, which made Jonathan tell me that it IS possible with “Internet Two” or something, which made me wonder how fast a piece of light could travel around the world and whether digital signals travel via light or what, and segued to a discussion of how electrical signals travel.
By SOUND? No, for sure not, and I proved that to myself in Pfafftown, NC when I was 12, in a phone conversation with my boyfriend John Banks who lived 5 miles away, when I heard a thunder clap through the phone and seconds later it rolled through my house. So electrical signals travel way faster than sound.
By Light? Maybe – but I couldn’t figure out how fast a piece of light would travel around the world.
Electricity? Digital signal? No idea how electricity is different from light or how fast it travels, or what defines a digital signal – but I suddenly had another thought:
What is the speed of shame?
This, we could answer. Immediately.
We all agreed it can appear almost instantaneously – we’d apparently all been researching that individually. It appears at least as fast as light – only it’s dark.
But then it slows down.
In fact, it basically stops. As if once activated it loses all momentum.
And then creates a membrane in which there is no movement at all, like an interstice between us and ourselves which appears so thin as to not exist, but in which we can become stuck forever.
So I think it’s time to floss.