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“The Boomerang Brick”

November 6, 2014
There once was a man who traveled the world with a brick in his hand. He had decided that every time someone infuriated him, he would clobber them with the brick. It was primitive, but effective, wouldn’t you say?
 
He came across a loudmouth who started saying all kinds of bad things to him. So he followed his plan and threw the brick at him.
 
I can’t remember if it reached or not. Afterwards though, he found that going to pick it up was a real inconvenience. So, he decided to improve his ‘Brick-Based Self-Preservation System’ as he called it. He tied a 3 foot rope to the brick. That way the brick would never get too far away. He soon discovered that the new system had its own flaws. To begin with, his target had to be less than 3 feet away. But also, the string would get tangled up and caught on things.
 
So he invented the ‘BBSPS 3.0’. The protagonist was still the brick, but instead of a rope it had springs. Now, he supposed, he could throw the brick over and over and it would come back on its own.
 
So he set out, and as soon as someone mistreated him, he threw the brick. He missed the target. The brick bounced back and hit him right in the head.
 
He tried again, but he misjudged the distance, and the brick came back and clobbered him a second time.
 
The third time, it was because his timing was off.
 
The fourth time was different. After deciding to clobber his victim, he tried to protect her from his aggression, and in this attempt the brick once again hit him in the head.
 
All of this was making a huge bump…
 
He never understood why the brick wouldn’t hit anybody else but him;
either he had suffered too many blows to the head, or his character had undergone some kind of mutation.
 
Every brick that he threw went to him.
boomerang brick
This mechanism is called retroflection: it protects others from our own aggression. Before our angry, hostile energy gets out, a barrier that we ourselves put in place stops it. The barrier doesn’t absorb the impact, it reflects. All of that anger, annoyance, and aggression, comes back at us through real acts of self-destruction (self-inflicted wounds, overeating, drug-abuse, excessive risk-taking) and in other cases through emotions that mask those feelings (depression, guilt, somatization).
 
In all likelihood an ideal human, ‘enlightened’, brilliant, and stable, would never get angry. That would be really helpful; however, once we feel that anger, annoyance, or aggression, the only way to free ourselves of it is by purging it through actions. Ironically, the only thing that we accomplish through this, sometimes sooner, sometimes later, is to become angry at ourselves.
– Jorge Bucay, “Let Me Tell You a Story”
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