Phlebotomic is a blog experiment that seeks to gather multiple perspectives around a common prompt, which is provided weekly.

Last week's prompt was "Beauty"...

This week's prompt is "Path"...

06 January 2009

Tension: Or How I’d Rather Write about Distension

Tension doesn’t worry me.

Distension worries me gravely.

Distension is the "expansion or swelling up from within", which is the opposite of the external, pulling forces that are the source of tension. Ever heard of a “distended” belly? You know the look. A starving African child with a portruding belly looks solemnly into the camera as the voiceover pleads with you to sponsor a child – "before it’s too late". That is the picture of distension.

Thinking about those children, I am reminded of our own distended lives. We live an existence that is bursting at the seams, mainly due to pressure from within. We are quick to blame exterior forces for all of our ills, but they are only clever scapegoats.

The truth remains that we are becoming distended due to our own collective will. We are cultural multi-taskers, drive-thru addicts, and Crackberry fiends. We are also temporal cause-junkies, whether the flavor of the day is an election or climate change, Tibet or Darfur. We are evolving into a state of constant awareness, a state that often finds us so “aware” of everything that we are unable to properly focus on (or actually accomplish) anything.

Somewhat illogically, our lives become distended not because they are too full. Rather, our distension stems from the fact that all of our cause-chasing and facebooking, all of our pretending to be important or appear impactful, leaves our lives empty and devoid of real substance.

(In looking for the “right” picture of a distended belly, I ran across a devastating display of photographs of starving children. Just Google “starving child Africa” and click on images. I cannot sit back and accept such horrors… My next web stop was the site of the WFP. It is a good day to fill someone else’s cup.)


  1. Agreed. (sarcastically saying, "As if it is that important that I agree")

  2. I think the fun thing will be trying to work "distension" into a conversation this week. Try it out.