I had to run an errand after work yesterday. I was driving across town listening to NPR's "All Things Considered." I had missed the beginning of the story and came in on a description of a doctor twirling ice picks and of the sound the picks made as the doctor thrust them through the patient's eye during a transorbital lobotomy. Then Howard Dully, one of the doctor's patients, began to speak in a hoarse, measured voice. His story completely held my attention. I couldn't go in the store until after the piece, which turned out to be 25 minutes long, finished. The doctor had lobotomized Dully in 1960 and countless other people throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Dully tracked down the doctor's son and interviewed him. He reconnected with his father to try to get an explanation of why he would have allowed his 12-year-old son to be lobotomized. He interviewed other patients (victims) and their families. After living a life of anger and frustration over having lost a part of himself "in his ten minutes with Dr. Freeman," talking to others and telling his story finally brought him peace.
For me, this story reminded me of how inescapably fascinating it is to hear of the pain, suffering, excitement, and joy, of other people's lives. That's one reason why I find blogs so fascinating. I enjoy the political ones, but I am often captivated by the very personal ones, ones I find by simply clicking the "next blog" button on the "blogger" site. I read about a nurse going to visit a former patient as she lay dying at home. I read the story of a young mother going to WalMart trying to buy some makeup to make herself feel better and leaving empty handed and in tears. Stories from anonymous people, encountered accidentally, that affect me profoundly.
I think of this as I am working on a new publication. I need to keep focused on the fact that we love to read about other peoples' lives.
If you missed Howard Dully's story, "My Lobotomy," you can hear it at the NPR website.