E un fel de foame. Numai că, în loc să fie instalată în stomac, șade ceva mai sus, în coșul pieptului, și nu se lasă identificată cu nicio etichetă disponibilă. Nu doare. Nu înțeapă. Nu cere cumva imediat o reacție, nici apă, nici săruri de cucoane încorsetate, nici ciocolată, nici măcar atenție. Nu trebuie oblojită. Doar e. Ceva ca o bilă de gol, căreia îi corespunde uneori o bătaie ușor repezită a inimii. Se poate materializa mai clar atunci când salteaua decide să răspundă bătăii aceleia de inimă și te trezești ușor năuc cu conștiința că te-a împresurat și din afară. E ca și cum rețeaua neuronală, ocupată până la miros de ars cu păstrarea contactului cu toate lucrurile esențiale și neesențiale care trebuie procesate în același timp, își găsește o supapă instalând un spațiu vid undeva în corp, pe care nu-l monitorizează. Ăla e lucrul de care nu e cazul să iei la cunoștință prea multe. Cu cât sunt mai multe de dus, cu atât bila de vid se umflă și impinge în coaste, devine mai sesizabilă în imaterialitatea ei. Nu e furie. Nu e neputință. Nu e lipsă de control. Nu e panică. Nu e, nici măcar, nemulțumire. Nu e teama că ai făcut prost. Nu e rușine sau vină. Nu e conștiința haosului. E, cumva, un amestec de toate astea, fără ca părțile să fie egale cu ceea ce compun ca întreg, fiindcă suma are calitatea antimateriei, e de pol opus. Ceea ce numesc acum, prin convenție (căci am stabilit că n-are nume), bila de vid e un fel de moarte-care-te-locuiește și de a cărei prezență devii uneori conștient. Nu e niciun rău în faptul că e acolo. Nu e nici măcar spăimos. Îmi trebuia doar o descriere.
We’ve been ill. The low energy that goes together with illness led to turning on the tv a few evenings ago. All in all, maybe 30 minutes to an hour of tv over about four days of proper stay-at-home illness, so still pretty reasonable. Irrelevant. The particular evening I’m talking about, there was this piece of a cheap Hollywood movie in which the slightly stuck-up, conventional American woman discovers – in Paris, of course – that life is made of less black-and-white and more shades of everything. As an ad-hoc life coach to trigger this revelation (I assume the revelation takes place based on the predictability of the plot, we gave up after perhaps 10 minutes), lovely Jacqueline Bisset impersonating a luxury `madame` (in the less than high-brow sense of the term). Irrelevant movie, plot, tv-bit of the evening. However, relevant in the same way pieces of poetry are constantly just the ones I am meant to hear at that particular moment, was the following `let me analyse you` observation: `I look at you and I wonder where that little girl who used to run free with her hair waving in the wind disappeared`. And my blood boiled with… I don’t even know what.
Because I thought I was very much aware of the fact that there are only a handful of personalities and of twists of fate and there is only a limited amount of imagination to go around in people – hence horoscopes. I thought I had made perfect peace with the feeling that none of us is special, in any way. That free will is more than limited. That we live in oh so many predetermined ways. That one could never expect a paid professional who is meant to guide you through personal dilemmas to actually take the time to feel `you`, but that, instead, what you can expect is a sketchy rendering of alternative paths that people generally take. And yet, having at some point been personally served the standard sentence above and having bought it, idiotically, ridiculously, in good faith, as meaning `you see me`, while it was plain as day that it only meant `I see the box you belong in` made me furious. And it made me feel manipulated. And, in the end, silly as hell. And justified in my original mistrust. The more so because I already had little doubt that I had paid money to be judged, not to be helped. Whereas, should one need to feel judged, that can be obtained soooo easily for free 🙂 .
Ce bine că pot
Să mă tac făr’ să mă prefac
Să mă tic fără să mă stric
Să mă toc făr’ să mă sufoc.
Ce bine că ştii
Să mă mustri-atunci când mă îmbii
Să-mi spui pas dându-mi totuşi nas
Să-mi laşi loc să nu dau în foc.
Ce minunat, minunat
Că-mi trebuieşti rezonabil şi cumpătat
Că piticii din ţeastă s-au maturizat
Că-mi trebuie doar trebuitul, şi ăla moderat.
Dar cel mai şi cel mai bine
Ar fi să reuşeşti (alt tu, cel generic) să-ţi ascunzi
Cât mai ai de cărat sacii ăştia cu tine.
– Care saci? Nu cumva mă confunzi?
A colleague of mine told me at lunch that she thought I looked so zen about life in general that she thought she should adopt my attitude towards everything. Which sounded quite flattering, up to the point where she said she thought I was simply not thinking about certain problems (that she does/others do worry about) – which sounded as if my attitude was a bit silly and at best mildly irresponsible. But, in any case, if I did worry about the same things, then the zen was just a facade and her image of me was ruined 🙂 .
Luckily, I trust her and, generally, people around me, therefore I didn’t get sucked into any kind of spiral of suspicion about what kind of implied judgment her comments may have contained. I just realised how differently people can value things. Because balance, to my mind, is not made of ignoring any kind of stimulus that might throw you off balance. And therefore ignoring stimuli doesn’t bestow any value upon one’s state of balance. Balance is taking in all the stimuli, thinking about what makes them powerful and choosing, in an as informed as possible manner (insert ten-line disclaimer here), which ones you allow to change your behaviours and which ones you stop fretting about. (Because, as far as I am concerned, balance is about managing comfort, angst, guilt and perhaps other little runaround cousins of theirs.)
Some decisions are easy: apparently worrying that somebody else makes less of an effort than yourself in a commonly run process is really time and energy-consuming for many people – I hardly ever bother thinking about it, except maybe when I fold a mountain of laundry – again. I realise though that it’s a matter of trust in the process partners and that trust works like a market force (I’ll have to think about this in more detail at some point – apparently people write whole dissertations about this 🙂 ).
Worrying that you will get ill or that you should eat very healthy food so that you live longer is, again, something that doesn’t keep me on my toes. I’ll go with the mainstream in maintaining my body in functioning order, check everything regularly and take action when there are repairs to be done, just as I maintain the house, but, although I might feel guilty about things I eat for ecological reasons, I refuse to feel guilty about `feeding my body poison`. Foods will keep being processed, ingredients will change with the years, either I’ll get cancer or I won’t. But I’m not going to pay for the insurance daily and get it anyway, I don’t think it’s worth it.
Some decisions are hard: motherhood decisions are hard. Do I adopt an all-healthy diet for the kids? No. Am I irresponsible for not doing so? Do I cut the tv completely? No. Are they going to develop attention disorders from it? Do I teach them schooly stuff early? Not really. Aren’t they going to miss the headstart I had when I went to school reading fluently? Do I try to dam in the pink spree of my four-year old? No. Shouldn’t I stand at least a little bit more feministically in the matter? (all right, the last one is already discarded to the non-issues bin.)
Also, womanhood decisions are sometimes hard. Do I work at how I look or do I try to accept myself, my age and my body as they are and be happy with that? Do I like who I have become or do I want to change as a person? Is this point in my life determined more by comfort or more by fulfilment (and then again, who says they can be told apart?)?
Political decisions are horribly hard. There is so much information to take in, so little time to deal with it before there’s more information, so many voices that should be listened to properly before dismissing, joining or splitting their message into usable and unusable bricks… Am I guilty for being partly an economic migrant? Do I have the right to protect myself by not reading the garbage or should I know it all in detail?
All these decisions, taken on a daily basis (do you use two or three sheets of toilet paper?) or for life, entail a plethora of feelings about who you are based on those decisions and about your human worth. The most common of these, in my case, is guilt. Which seems to never stop pouring from everywhere, even with so-called zen. I remembered twenty things, I forgot one birthday (guilt). The children who came to my daughter’s birtday party didn’t actually eat sweets – ever (doubt and guilt). Guilt for consuming, guilt for ecological gestures that you couldn’t afford or simply didn’t have the time for, guilt for non-bio food, guilt for your economic status, guilt for the age of the car’s engine, guilt for ever watching tv, guilt for being broken by the time you get home and not feeling like a good roll over the floor with the kids, guilt about fishsticks, guilt about the fact that you felt good about doing a nice thing, therefore it’s not nice anymre, because it’s not selfless – and it spirals slowly into the absurd.
Balance is being a witch from Discworld (I really loved this image): you learn to balance the pain (or guilt) into a big ball and pour it into something else. One day at a time. And this is why trying to achieve balance is, to me, more valuable than many other things – because you get to live and experience and learn from all the shit, but you do your best not to put it on others.
There are many standards that we never consciously picked up – they are more or less „infused” into our very substance through their pervasiveness. There are things we admit or not, things we share or not, because there are standards about what is share-able, and placing yourself on one or the other side of certain standards makes you immediately „one of those people who…”. But given that this page is not (read: pretending really obstinately to itself not to be) an exercise in (narcissic) likeability, but rather one in being honest to oneself, I’m questioning my standard.
I’m on a (rather severe) diet.
I read blogs of people who write about body image; I can agree with lots of stuff, I can get judgmental and wonder whether continuously writing about it doesn’t affect the extent to which you think about it – and it really shouldn’t be that important… I admire some of them for their sustained effort of embracing themselves instead of media images. And I am, by no means, one of them.
I have long ago tacitly embraced the standard that a woman might joke about her weight, but a `strong` woman should never show that she actually has issues with her body – because, well, she’s not that shallow and self-esteem cannot possibly be influenced by something so `worldly`. Yet, the same `strong` woman should never `let herself go` and turn into a middle-aged shapeless potato sack. It’s always perverse – because, to obtain the `cool and composed` attitude, you should never visibly count what you have on your plate – or else assume the consequence of being a different sort of fretting woman. And to obtain the `decent`, `I have everything under control` silhouette, you should do something about it – something that involves time and effort. But it shouldn’t show.
Therefore today I am writing about it. I’m on a diet: it’s awful and masochistic to bake cake for your kid’s school birthday party while working your willpower to its end not to touch the frosting; it’s a test of dealing with frustration, putting it in perspective, coping with low energy in a demanding life pattern; it’s time-consuming in preparations and asocial because, apparently, all social things at work and at home are organized around food; it’s really boring if you’ve developed gourmet tastes; it’s a journey of confirming that this is my weakest physical and possibly psychological spot; it’s possibly demeaning in the eyes of others who are struggling on a daily basis with how their body, of whichever shape, is themselves and needs to be loved. But I’m tired of this game of constant guilt, damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I’m giving it my best shot, and if it saves me thinking about this for the next 10 months, at least, then it will have been worth it. If I can extinguish the desire to press delete whenever I look at pictures of myself, even if it’s only temporarily, it’s worth it. (Of course, it won’t be, given that, when I weighed 10 kilos less than today, I was desperate to find a gym where they know what you should do about your upper arms (that was perhaps around 21). ) But it turns out that there’s strength to be found in all positions on a spectrum, and today, I’m sticking by this decision: I caved in to society’s ruler – I’m a wimp on a diet.
„an insufferable know-it-all”, cât de tare Hermione îmi defineşte momentele de ruşine că iar am vorbit prea apăsat, am tăiat cuvântul cuiva în goană, sperând în sinea mea să nu-i încurc prea rău, dar să zic totuşi şi eu… Că am râs prea cu poftă, când susceptibilitatea altuia ar putea să fi interpretat că… Că am căutat pe wikipedia sau pe imdb ca să-mi dovedesc dreptatea prin implicarea unui terţ într-o controversă irelevantă – dar dreptatea aia, când eşti „verschrikkelijke betweter”; oare de ce lucrurile care te compun şi te fac uneori folositor sunt totodată sursă de ruşine? Iar am păcătuit, părinte, iar nu mi-am văzut lungul nasului, a vorbit gura fără mine, am făcut un banc prea mult, m-am simţit prea în siguranţă şi mi-am imaginat că şi cei cu care convieţuiesc îmi împărtăşesc siguranţa şi că nu le pot face rău. Pare că totul e o negociere a unui punct de echilibru extrem de fragil între ce dai şi ce păstrezi, între ce crezi şi ce spui, între cine eşti şi cine vrei să fii, între munci, vieţi, relaţii, răspunderi, amoruri, vieţile altora… un gest în plus şi faci o zbârcă. Şi uneori o vezi în timp ce o faci, dar nu mai e loc de dres, şi dacă o admiţi, e ca o pată de grăsime pe care te apuci s-o ştergi cu şerveţelul – se face doar mai mare. Şi dac-ar fi să facem penitenţă realmente, ce, n-are dreptate Yusuf? Se aruncă chitara cu totul – se-nchide, în cazul ăsta, blogul, se tace cu adevărat. Doar că nu cred în penitenţa care neagă substanţa penitentului. Deci se înghite ruşinea cu linguriţa şi se merge mai departe. Sperând că ăia dragi o să ştie că „but she meant well”.