Monday, January 7, 2013

It's Got No Feelings to Hurt

"Laddie, dinna ye think ye'd better visit our Shrieking Tree?" she asked with a smile. It was an ancient clan custom in the old country that somewhere near the dwelling of the oldest woman of the laird's family would be the Shrieking Tree.
When Ian was young, Granny Dunross was the oldest, and her cottage was in a glade in the hills behind Kilmarnock in Ayrshire where the Struan lands were. The tree was a great oak.
It was the tree you went out to when the deevil—as old Granny Dunross called it—when the deevil was with you, and alone, you shrieked whatever curses you liked.
" . . . and then, lassie," the lovely old woman had told her the first night, " . . . and then, lassie, there would be peace in the home and never a body has need to really curse a husband or wife or lover or child. Aye, just a wee tree, and the tree can bear all the curse words that the deevil himself wanted . . ." 
Noble House by James Clavell

The granny here is giving advice to the young woman who has just married her grandson. For the sake of her marriage, Granny tells her she must always have a Shrieking Tree selected wherever she is; her grandson has the family fiery temper. 
"Remember, lassie," Granny Dunross had said to hear privately the day they left, "if ye want to keep your marriage sweet, make sure this Dunross always has a Shrieking Tree nearby. Dinna be afeared. Pick one, always pick one, wherever you go. This Dunross needs a Shrieking Tree close by though he'll never admit it and will never use it but rarely . . ." 

So wherever they had gone they had had one. Penelope had insisted. Once, in Chungking, where Dunross had been sent to be an Allied liaison officer after he was well again, she had made a bamboo their Shrieking Tree. Here in Hong Kong it was a huge jacaranda that dominated the whole garden. "Don't you think you should pay her a wee visit?" The tree was always a her for him and a him for her. Everyone should have a Shrieking Tree, Penelope thought. Everyone.   
I certainly should allot some poor tree to verbally abuse. Not because I let things out; I hold them in. Genetically, I tend to internalize aggravations, allowing it to wreak havoc on my digestion and blood pressure. While the benefits of catharsis is still under debate in the psychology field, one should have a place, whether it be internal or external, to bring oneself back into control.

One of the biggest mistakes one can do in life is to allow angry emotions to spillover onto those who are innocent of wrongdoing. A bad day in the office can have a man bellowing at his wife, who in turn takes it out on the children.
It's an injustice. 

Therefore, everyone has to become maivens on themselves. If one is angry, one is annoyed, one is ready to blow, stay quiet. Go for a walk. Think about what the price of "honesty" will be.  

In the penultimate scene from Pygmalion (Act V), Henry attempts to smooth-talk Eliza into coming back. She retorts that he has never cared for anyone, he has absolutely no consideration for another soul, what should she come back for? 

HIGGINS. [arrogant] I can do without anybody. I have my own soul: my own spark of divine fire. But [with sudden humility] I shall miss you, Eliza. [He sits down near her on the ottoman]. I have learnt something from your idiotic notions: I confess that humbly and gratefully. And I have grown accustomed to your voice and appearance. I like them, rather.

LIZA. Well, you have both of them on your gramophone and in your book of photographs. When you feel lonely without me, you can turn the machine on. It's got no feelings to hurt.

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