Today I realized that I haven’t bothered with my appearance since the pandemic began. Not that I think that vanity is a virtue, nor have I ever been someone who checks my lipstick at lunchtime during the workday, but I have had a healthy baseline of care and pride when I’ve been well. I’m aware…
“speak. stumble. be seen. be known, be known. beloved.” NEIL REID I love it when the written language can give room to the misinterpretations/multiple interpretations that spoken language can offer our imagination. “Be(-)loved”: affirmative imperative verb, adjective, noun. I’ve struggled with what to call myself since I’ve committed myself to a very spiritual practice of…
I’ve hiked for days once before. And I stopped caring whether my socks matched. I stopped looking at every hill as something to be gauged and conquered. I put one foot in front of the other and kept an eye out for grouse in heather.
What we leave behind us after a long journey is one thing, what we take with us is also important.
All this while, away from the woods, I’ve been planning a garden. Planning. While sitting in this little room. It makes sense really. What is a garden but an attempt to tame nature? To stave off death – or at least create an illusion of control over it.
Maybe I’m lucky, in that I wouldn’t have back my experience of “youth” for the world. Even if that means I have pain in my big toe, in my knees; bifocals and a tendency to say, “Huh?”.
I’m lucky that because of my youth, I know that the rain that beats on the roof will eventually stop. And that all this political turmoil will pass, one way or another. And one way or another we move on. Regroup. Grow.
Forgive. I guess.
Sometimes – just sometimes – I envy young people their hubris. The more we know, the more we know we do not know. How to marry that knowledge with daring? Socrates did it, right?
They say he was a jerk.
And I think there might be even more to it than that. When we glimpse ourselves in that way, we are unaware that we are seeing ourselves. We are looking objectively at the world (in the best sense), and seeing with the compassionate – or even admiring – eye that we look at others with. When we recognize ourselves, we turn on ourselves. With the conscious “posing” comes the conscious judgement. Or vice versa. We wilt under judgement.
I worry that my children are still ashamed or embarrassed by me. I still talk too loudly – an American voice is placed in the mask – it carries (in more ways than one). It’s a matter of physics. What am I going to do? Adopt an accent?
It strikes me as funny that this of all things probably allows me to claim status as a “first-generation immigrant” (as opposed to expat): Worrying that your cultural traits will embarrass my children.
Or it would, if first-generation immigrant wasn’t code for something else.
Do you still miss living here? Miss being an immigrant? Are you happy with the unexpected repatriation in terms of your identity? Sometimes I forget which one of you is actually Norwegian: you or M.
I believe there’s a primal, unconscious fear of people whose emotional needs are obvious. There’s the mistrust: if no one else has been there for that person, there must be something wrong with them. And there’s the gut knowledge that loneliness is contagious, I guess. Monkeys shy away from the shunned and the injured, and so do most of us.
I think it’s a matter of learning how to attend to our needs obliquely.
Yesterday I went to a friend’s theater production downtown. It was an evening of storytelling by seven women, from seven countries. So, I thought about you.
Some of these women were war refugees, some economic migrants, and some came for love.
In regard to casual sexism, “Imagine how you’d feel” is never going to be a persuasive point in this discussion. But I don’t think it’s because of a lack of empathy. It’s because of a lack of perspective.
On both sides.
I believe it’s extraordinarily rare to find a person who doesn’t long to be the object of someone’s desire. (On one’s own terms, of course.)
And tiny monsters can be muses. Unreliable, but they tap you on the shoulder just before you wake, and they whisper things to make your heart beat hard enough to force you to take notice: Your heart is beating.
There would be images of me (taken by God-knows-who) alone on the porch, wrapped in a hand-made blanket, a mug of boiled coffee in hand: the poet looking wistfully over the landscape. There would also be images of candlelight dinners with glinting wine glasses, my lover and all my laughing friends: all on Instagram.
… I know that isn’t the real world.
A pseudo-scientist has to know when to call off the experiment for the sake of the health and well-being of the subjects involved. It is best for everyone.
What I will take with me?
The darkened rooms, and the candlelight after 8 pm.
Every time I hear the phrase “ruined for life” about sexual abuse, I feel diminished. Do I speak up? Being seen as a “victim” sometimes results in losing one’s standing as a rational adult. Compassion can easily slide into pity. And pity is never a good thing.
Holding up victims as examples of ruined lives stops people from daring to speak out in the first place.
When I exhale pain radiates down the length of my arms.
And it’s comforting in a way, to feel it like this.
I almost believe I could grab hold of it, and pull it out my fingertips.
Strands of sharp tinsel.