Sunday, January 01, 2012
Someone, I forget now who it was (that's last night's dirty martinis talking), said that instead of a list of "resolutions", she had learned to take a yearly theme instead. I like that. I'm no good with rules and regulations, even if I make them myself (that's why my Tumblr and livejournal both are named "mumsananarchist", courtesy of the daughter who answered that way when asked whether her parents were Democrats or Republicans.) So I spent most of yesterday in silence - not difficult, since I broke the tv - and decided that my theme this year was to be (insert drum roll here) FEARLESSNESS.
I forget, once again, who said that there are only two emotional states - love and fear. I started rolling through lots of the events of the last couple years, and realized that most of my reactions had to do with fear: fear of being alone, fear of being penniless, fear of failure, fear of success, fear of new things, fear of loss, fear of hard work, fear of looking silly, fear of change in general. Many of these fears were masquerading as sensible things - I mean, who wants to fail, lose their investment and look like an idiot? - but at base, they were still fears.
If we're not acting out of love, we're acting out of fear. If I try to tie my daughters, both in their 20s, to me, that isn't love, that's fear of loss. If I refuse to spring for some new art supplies, or make some changes to my house, that's not love of the way things are, that's fear of penury or of trying something new. If I don't work at the novel or the Other Book, that isn't because I'm busy, that's because I'm afraid to invest the time in something that may not work out (another fear.)
So this year, I refuse to be afraid. If something doesn't kill me...well, Friedrich, it may not make me stronger, but it will make me wiser. And braver in the future. I joined a team that centers on doing an hour of exercise per day, based on some Irish legend. I don't have any Irish blood in me that I know of, but I have lots of Highland Scots, and that sort of challenge appeals to me.
I've been leery of quitting the evening alcoholic beverages - what if I can't sleep? Well, then the next day I'll be tired, but I imagine I'll survive just fine.
What if the book flops? At least it made it into print - even if I have to print it myself.
What if following what I truly enjoy doing leads me into (another) bankruptcy? Well, the first one didn't do me any harm - in fact, I learned things from it I would never have known otherwise. Meanwhile, I've been having fun.
There's nothing and no one holding me where I am now, in terms of employment (got none, lol), family (ditto, at least within 400 miles) or any other yardstick I can think of. I may be 56 and significantly overweight, but I can lose the weight ( I can't get any younger, but I can feel and maybe look younger), get my physical strength back, and find new passions (arts, my friends, not men) to pursue. Hell, I suppose it's not totally outside the realm of possibility to marry again - I suppose I shouldn't rule it out. I've only ever traveled north and south (PEI to Key West), but there's no reason why I can't go west. Or east, although that gets wet fairly soon.
A quick Rumi quote:
LIVE WHERE YOU FEAR TO LIVE.
DESTROY YOUR REPUTATION.
So that's the plan for 2012. And if I show any signs of fear, any Fraidy-cat bull!@#$, I expect you, my friends, to call me on it.
Best wishes for the best year of our lives!
Friday, December 30, 2011
So, as I understand it, this will be our last New Year's. Apparently the Mayans, who had a sort of cyclical calender, didn't go beyond next Winter Solstice, and so we conclude from this that the world will end next December 21st.
Let me point out that if there's New Age hooey to be bought, I'm first in line. I absolutely, positively believe (and have experienced) lots of "impossible" or "unrealistic" things and have no problem with shifting paradigms. But this one has me shaking mah head.
I'm not criticizing the Mayans. They did pretty well for themselves, and their influence is still felt in neighboring cultures, as well as having the only (I think I'm remembering this correctly) fully articulated written language in the Pre-Columbian Americas . They weren't knocked out by the conquistadors - in fact, they're still around, although spread throughout nearby areas. I'm sure they knew what they were doing with their calender - it's our own interpretation of it that I doubt.
There's a Mayan specialist at Colgate University (quite nearby to me) and he insists that we've got it wrong - it's not the end of the world, just the end of a cycle, and that that doesn't necessarily mean anything huge or disastrous at all. Maybe it's due to all the years (and years and years) I spent in academia, but I'm inclined to believe him over Llewellyn authors who have doomsday books to sell.
What fascinates me about all this isn't whether the world will end or not - I mean, what can you do one way or the other? - but how people will react to the predictions. Will there be all kinds of Stuff purchased with a "no payments until 2013!!" guarantee (enjoy now - be dead before the payments come due!) or will people stop buying altogether, gathering their resources in survivalist strongholds?
Should we bother to decorate for Christmas? Should we buy as usual and just celebrate early? Should we pull all of our money out of the stock market and buy Stuff to play with this year, since next year (and thus stock dividends and the opportunity to enjoy them) won't be happening?
As far as I'm concerned, these are the interesting questions. I think there was a movie out a few years back about all this, but I somehow missed it *cough*
I guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens. Isn't this more fun anyway?
AND ABOUT THAT Y2K MESS.....
Funny, I always felt partly responsible for Y2K. I was in grad school in the information science department in the late 1970s, working on computer languages, and I remember a few of the coding guys noticing that they hadn't put in a provision for the century to change.
In those days we were just getting away from keypunches and it was a big deal to go back and change something, so like the people who have their corpses frozen in the hopes that future generations will know how to thaw and cure them, we just said, "Oh well - they'll be able to handle it then." And then I guess we forgot about it.
But the future generation *did* notice and figure it out in time, so the crash of the banking system and the stock market and all the other dreadful things never came pass. They just dragged us geezers back and made us fix things in languages mostly no longer used - things like COBOL (mine was SNOBOL) and FORTRAN 4 and other computer Sanskrits.
So it all worked out in the end, and there was no computer-generated Apocalypse.
As Gilda said, "It's always somethin'. "
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Every year, I make all sorts of RESOLUTIONS and by mid-January have bailed on most of them. I think the deal is that instead of planning small changes that will build up to what I want, I basically say, "Tomorrow I'll get up and BE SOMEONE ELSE ENTIRELY!!! :D :D :D " and it hasn't worked yet. By the end of the month - and frequently the day - I'm the same old me.
Another thought - and if I mentioned this before, please forgive me for repeating - is that after three years of having people I thought would live, die and money I thought I had, vanish and houses I thought would be valuable, sell for 1/3 their prior assessment, I have a sort of learned helplessness. When bad things happen, even if I could do something relatively simple about them such as calling a plumber, I just shrug and think, "Oh well, there goes the hot water." I haven't had more than warm water since about June - I believe we need some sort of filter. The water is too cold for the dishwasher, so I boil water on the stove for rinsing after hand washing. It's just like camping! Only....I just put in a new kitchen four years ago....and it had a dishwasher, instant hot water from a teeny little extra faucet, lots of hot water, a faucet that switched from stream to spray with a toggle switch, and a hand-soap pump on the sink. Now they're all kaput and I just roll with it. This doesn't even make sense to *me*, and I'm pretty flexible.
So instead of a bunch of resolutions I know I'll never carry out, I'm just going to make some suggestions to myself that might make life a little easier:
- water problems? Call a plumber.
- weight problems? Think about what you eat and move about a bit. If I don't want to eat something, I probably shouldn't buy it at the store.
- exercise issues? Just do it. Seriously - just put in a tape and do it. Lock the dog in the other room if she feels she must participate.
- no money? Maybe look for a job. (?!)
- house looks like a tornado hit it?? Put a couple things away or work steadily for half an hour here and there, instead of planning these marathon cleaning sessions that exhaust and overwhelm.
- can't get dressed because nothing fits? Buy some clothing. Ditch the old stuff. Realize that you can't bring back the past simply by dressing the part.
- overtired? Take a nap - the world won't come to an end and I won't die
- need to make some kind of decisions? Make lists. Read a book on the subject. Talk to people. Don't just sit and fret.
That sort of thing. The sort of actions that probably come naturally to lots of people. I think they even used to come naturally to me.
The second problem is that, when I do sit down and make a list of all the things I need to accomplish in a day to meet my goals (work on writing, exercise, maybe see a therapist, meditate, plan meals, clean, buy cat food, work outside, walk outside, tile the sunroom, don't forget to relax!, etcetcetcetc) and try to fit it - as recommended by so many organizational people - in my day planner on the little hour lines, I realize that I can get it all done only if I give up sleeping altogether (and that destroys resolve #37, which was to get a minimum of eight hours sleep [but a maximum of nine]). Oops! Forgot to schedule in "give back to the community." Wait! Forgot to schedule cooking and eating. See what I mean? Yeesh. No wonder I just give up and decide to keep up with the Kardashians from the safety of the sofa instead.
So this year, instead of planning all these drastic changes and/or assuming (on some sub-conscious level, I guess) that I have no control over anything anyway, I'm just going to try to do a little bit better. (Somebody gag Yoda before he says that thing about, "There is no 'try', only 'do' or 'not do'") I won't nag at myself because I almost never drink the eight glasses of water per day - I'll just have a small glass now and again when I'm in the kitchen. I won't insist that I have to do yoga *and* cardio *and* strength train every day or else do nothing - I'll give a shot at just getting one done.
Let's think a little about good ol' King Lear:
No, I will weep no more. In such a night
To shut me out? Pour on; I will endure.
In such a night as this? O Regan, Goneril!
Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave alló
O, that way madness lies; let me shun that;
No more of that.
if I read (and recall) Shakespeare correctly, he's just spent an entire Act obsessing over the crimes of his daughters, and he is now out of the house in a howling storm. He's still insisting that he can bear anything, that the gods (he'd spoken to them earlier, asking for this and that, and had never received answers) and his ungrateful daughters can hurl at him what they may - he'll endure. It's a weird form of self-pity, and just as he starts to think about it, he bails on the sentence because he knows darn well he doesn't have a frank heart and never gave all; to think about such a thing, to search the Self in that manner, is the way to madness.
But it's the rational Lear that is really mad - the one that thinks that he has everything, can control everything. As he sinks deeper into madness, we see him lighten up a little and begin to think entirely differently: by the time he is entirely without reason, his new reasoning becomes simpler and a lot more full of freedom.
(Okay, I'm stretching a metaphor here and those of you who know Shakespeare are shouting about how there's a lot more to it than that, and I agree. Just go with it, okay?)
My point is simply that it's time to stop thinking of myself as a victim of circumstance on the one hand, and as someone who can control every detail of every day on the other. Like Lear in his madness, maybe I can use a little creativity and freedom actually to build a decent life instead of dwelling incessantly upon the old one and my misconceptions, misfortunes, and failures - both real and imagined - in it. Face facts, be creative about solutions, be flexible about outcomes, be free.
And isn't that what the whole New Year's deal is, after all? The freedom to create a new future, unburdened by the past.
Wednesday, December 07, 2011
and I'm fine, as I had expected.
See, my Dad died of colorectal cancer, so when the doctor told me I should have a colonoscopy at age 40 (sixteen years ago), I did. The experience was pretty unpleasant but I was totally clear so they told me to go home and come back in ten years.
Ten years came and went. I told myself all sorts of things I knew were lies even as I was saying them: "I'll get it done as soon as X" where X is anything that isn't happening immediately. I managed to put it off for another six years before I finally got the "perfect storm" of health insurance, a ride to and from the hospital, and the mindset to prod myself into doing it. I scheduled it, and once you do that, you have to follow through because the paperwork and scheduling is a big deal for all involved.
Revelation: much has changed in the last sixteen years! One no longer has to chug a gallon of vile stuff while sprinting to and from the bathroom - I cleared out my colon with OTC products and the 68 oz beverage of my choice (for me, Lipton Citrus Iced Tea.) The anaesthetic was a breeze (although the last time I was awake enough to watch on the video as they scoped, which was kinda cool.) One minute I was there and the next I was done, and it wore off very quickly.
They'd removed two polyps, one quite large. The doctor said he doubted very much that either was cancerous, but you never really know until you get the labs back, which I did today. I have to get another colonoscopy (known in younger circles as "butt cam") in a year, but I don't even dread it this time. I know it'll be no problem.
So don't let your fears and/or embarrassment get in the way of getting this test done, even if you don't have a family history. It honest-to-God is not a big deal. As a friend of mine once remarked, "You think you're so special, but to the doctor you're just another a$$hole." Truer words were never spoken.
Now do it!
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