Yes, I do know that it has almost been a month since my last post. Plagued by a very late starting spring, resulting in compressing all the things that should have been done by now into the very shortest measure of time before the 5 minutes of summer comes, I was in danger of shedding my sparkly Pollyanna skin to something more dark, sinister and leathery…hence the silence. I discovered, that I can handle the major stuff in life with relative ease, that is where my problem-solving, common sense super power kicks in. Those irritations like: lost keys, wallets, glasses, bikes, forms…none of which are mine but somehow fall into my purview of responsibilities; broken things that interrupt the flow of the day, like the computer my son just built that shuts down 10 times a day…of course he’s only finished his freshman year in computer engineering, or the eroding land that may cause our pool to fall into a ravine; and those never-ending tasks of life that you swear you just took care of and like going through a time warp, there they are again demanding attention like running out of toilet paper, kitty food, dish soap, laundry soap, razor blades, etc…; and lastly, all the man things that I live with every day too numerous to list here. All these irritations have worn my sparkly skin down to paper thinness, so I can see the serpent skin underneath. What’s worse are the responses I get from the men in my house: “I didn’t touch it”, “Just dump some dirt on it”, “Just turn it back on”, I’ll do it later (loose translation, NEVER) or my least favorite, “Just buy a new one”. It is just not acceptable…I almost died…of irritation.
So, that explains the silence. I saw my weakness and got help, not the psychological kind, but someone who will clean my house and organize the chaos, so those other irritations don’t kill me. Now, I don’t have to worry that the fire coming out of my mouth will burn everything in it’s wake. My sparkly skin is coming back…even through the gob of flem I just cleaned out of the many used glasses that the men in my house love to spit in…I will survive.
I’m a deep thinker…I think you’ve figured that out by now. Today I picked up 25 pieces of used dental floss. Used, man dental floss. Grossly discolored dental floss. I think this is why the universe placed me in crazy town. It’s in the details people. I refuse to put a picture of it on this post, so instead, here is a picture of the new kitten that someone left at Wal-Mart and decided crazy town would be better.
All crap aside, I have tried in the last couple of days to 1) figure out what exactly drives me as an observer and 2) figure out how to improve and change what drives me as an observer. Truthfully, I am stuck. I’m stuck because there is a part of me, perhaps the part that is rooted in common sense, that absolutely can’t change how I view that portion of the world that is so rooted in illusion that they are convinced it is the rest of the world that is completely insane….I KNOW! THAT VERY EXAMPLE FITS ME BOTH AS AN OBSERVER AND THOSE THAT I OBSERVE!!! It is a bit of a conundrum. So, I have begun to disassemble the illusory elements in my life…which also stands as proof that my willingness to accept that I may just be as crazy as those I’ve been judging, is a sign that I am in fact, not the crazy on in this observer/observed relationship. Also, the fact that I would never go out in public with my boobs tucked into my pants because I misplaced my bra and shirt is a point on my side as well.
As far as what drives me as an observer, I would say first and foremost it is my faith as a Christian….I KNOW! MOST OF THE CRAZY PEOPLE I’VE OBSERVED ALSO INCLUDE CHRISTIANITY AS THEIR BIGGEST DRIVING FORCE! That includes, and is not limited to those horrible spirited people who protest funerals, those that think that a woman’s body has special powers to keep from being impregnated when she is “legitimately” raped, and any or all of the “Real Housewives of Orange County.” So, what happened? Did we get it wrong? I, personally, think we did. This then, is where I will start. Read this verse John 13: 34 & 35 and answer this question…is this how you understand your faith? Actually read the whole chapter, it is the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. A wonderful portrayal of what is expected of authority.
I know that Jesus didn’t just grab a random person off the streets and command them to love like he did and wash their feet. He loved these disciples. He had journeyed with them, spent three years with them…he had tamed them. Because he had tamed them, he knew that they would understand his command. The ties that bound them on earth were so important when it came to building and continuing his church, and he was no longer physically with him. They were responsible to each other, just like the Little Prince taught (see post on Taming). I think is the most important part…I asked myself the same question: How am I responsible to Him?. I didn’t get tamed by Jesus personally…only spiritually, and it was through a disciple that I came to understand what he was all about. It is what made me different from any of the others that have made the same claim. It has put me on a path of not focusing on being better than or being right…but one of being better and responsible to this phrase: “They will know you are my disciple by how you love one another.” The break down of illusion starts there.
I took a step away from deep thoughts for a moment and thought I would step outside my small circle and check out the state of my view on ordinary people out there. It’s not altogether pretty. I’m usually an optimist, but man there is some weird stuff out there, and I found myself spiraling into a deep sense of pessimism that truly is foreign to me. Just perusing through social network sites, (you would be amazed at how many are totally public) was shallow proof that the end of the world is nigh. Seriously, if the observer does has an impact on the state of the world (check the last post), I can understand why we are all slipping into hell in a dirty hand basket. I can’t get over the fact that there actually is a website dedicated to Wal-Mart people…moreover I can’t get over the fact that people on that website actually went out in public like that. I am amazed at the stupid, stupid, STUPID things that ordinary folk take to heart as fact, such as Obama is really a foreign Muslim, or the world is 6000 years old, and Climate change is really Armageddon, so there is nothing we can so do to stop it. This is not good. I am a bit ashamed and feeling a bit self-righteous as an observer and I will ponder on this a bit. Granted there is a lot of strange and stupid things out there, but it is how I, as an observer respond to it that makes on the difference in the world. At this point, I admit I don’t know how to respond…so I won’t. I will, believe me. I just wanted you to understand the silence.
Ok, you know those commercials when blind folded people are led into a room and smell nothing but freshly washed clothes, or a summer breeze? Then, they take off the blindfold and they are standing in the middle of complete filth? Yeah, that was me utilizing my time while my husband and eldest son were in Montana for college orientation and registration, only without the blindfold and the febreeze. I know I’ve blogged about it before…but I make it a point to never go into the man cave…but since it is also the room that leads out to our patio, where we are having a graduation gathering in a couple of weeks it was necessary. There were things down there that would frighten a Yeti…but not me. I spent days down there with my yellow rubber gloves and cleaning products and now, there is a lilac theme and smell to the bathroom. Ceiling tiles were replaced with ones that weren’t stained from the toilet that broke three floors up. All the dead rodents stuck to said stained ceiling tiles were given a proper burial, i.e. they were thrown into the woods to support the cycle of nature. The thousand air-soft bee-bees were suctioned up of the floor along with tokens of football parties past, along with walls that have been wiped clean of the DNA packed particulars that come with the spewing of beer and brat filled man talk. When I was done, I actually closed my eyes and sat on the floor and breathed in deeply. I smelled lilacs…I really did.
In the midst of a frenzied few weeks, when breathing into a paper bag is my stress reliever, I have tried really hard to FOCUS…(the caps are me, telling myself to focus right now at this very moment because even in writing about focus, I seem to lose it). Anyway, there are many lifetime events swirling around me right now: death, new driver, graduation, major home projects, none of which has sent me over the edge. I tell myself that I’m handling them like a trooper. Except not really. So what threw me over the edge? Taking out my warm weather clothing, only to realize that while my psyche may have withstood the longest winter EVER, my body has not. Nothing fits. Stomping around like a 14-year-old didn’t make me feel any better, especially since I only felt winded. Finally getting back to the gym this week only validated what poor shape I’m in. And while body consciousness is usually irrelevant in my day-to-day musings, today it is LOOMING AT ME LIKE OBNOXIOUS WORDS ALL CAPS. Do you know how hard it is to suck in your stomach when you’re doing planks, or how disconcerting it is when your boobs bump into your gut rendering it almost impossible to complete a crunch? I tell myself, that this too will pass, that my butt will be back where it’s supposed to be in no time at all. I will face all these major changes in life with a body that is as tight as my spirit. Right?
While my momentary body consciousness may be the expression of the challenges I’ve faced as of late, I think the root of my anxiety lies in the fact that while I am fine with life moving forward, I am not always fine with how well or effectively I’ve lived thus far. Note, that this statement comes from that guilt ridden, Irish Catholic school girl inside me who will never be satisfied with how well I’ve done anything until I’ve earned a feast day. But as life will have it, something extraordinary happened. While Steve and I were bickering about which depressingly expensive pool liner we were going to purchase to replace the one that lived 3 years beyond its life span, the young man behind the counter asked me my name…(to which Steve used this momentary distraction to vacate, to make his tee-time) when I told him, he smiled and said, “You were my teacher at Holy Angels” It was lovely to catch up, but even more so that he actually remembered some things that I said in class that stuck with him. A simple moment, but remarkable given the funk I was in. It was nice to know that I did make an impact on a life. Sometimes it’s just nice to know. We should all be better at letting others know how they’ve impacted our lives. I know I will.
So, what does perfection look like? The dictionary defines it, in part, as the full growth or development of anything, or a completed state. So beyond all the traditional trappings…I ask this question, “Given that God is perfect what does God look like? Avoiding the easy traps of artists portrayals, I start with the old testament when God was always shrouded somehow, because to look upon God physically meant certain death. The metaphor that came to me as I was struggling to find something completely unique, was that of God as a flasher–God revealing the deeper realities of life, for God’s pleasure, and our limited ability to see God in full glory. NOW WAIT INTERNET, DO NOT FREAK OUT, KEEP WITH ME FOR JUST A MINUTE! I have waited for enough time after writing this draft to validate that I have not caught on fire, I have not turned to stone and my head hasn’t turned all the way around once…so just bare with me, if God’s OK with it, so should you. First of all, the reason I use the flasher image is that God has been clothed in so many different layers over the centuries, it’s about time to challenge many of these historical notions. So when all the layers are stripped away, what do we have left? I don’t have that answer yet, but and this is a big one, BUT I certainly had to ask this question first? Am I willing to see God naked?
Culturally, nakedness is far more associated with sexuality and porn than personal knowledge and perfection. The kind of exposure from someone who reveals themselves out of pleasure without being asked to do so is not only uncomfortable, many times it is a criminal offense. Perhaps it is our discomfort and limited capacity for understanding perfection that God chooses to show us only so much at a time. It can be more than a little daunting to entertain the possibility that many of the fundamental assumptions we have about God are really ill-fitting costumes that not only hide, but distort God’s very essence. I say this, in part, because if we were so clear about God’s true nature, wouldn’t our world be in a much better place? So let’s go back to before being naked was an indecent thing.
According to the book of Genesis, when Eve, then Adam ate from the tree of knowledge, bringing sin into paradise, they recognized their nakedness, tried to cover themselves up and hid from God. Note that being naked was a good thing until they sinned and they began to see themselves differently as a result. It certainly doesn’t imply that being naked was intrinsically a bad thing does it? We are created in God’s image, after all…free of any wardrobe malfunctions. Isn’t it more likely that the need to cover ourselves up as a result of recognizing our imperfection naturally flows to why we try to cover up God as well; we don’t want the constant reminder of how imperfect we really are. History certainly says so, for Christians anyway, look how humanity treated Jesus. If we are truly created in the image of God, and by our own choice moved away from that image, it seems to make sense that in order to discover God’s true nature we deal with our own nakedness…and the neurosis that comes with it first.
Looking at my own naked flesh is mixed with many different emotions. At my age it is impossible avoid gravity, period. I will never resemble those beautiful women in the magazines, and I guess I’m OK with that, but sadly, though, I never thought my body would ever resemble one of those prehistoric fertility goddess figurines comprised of sagging breasts and a marsupial like stomach either…and while spanks work miracles, they do have to come off some time. But at the same time, this body of mine has survived breaks, falls, injuries, childbirth, dancing, and the many things I have done for God…all that comes with living life. Our bodies are the empirical evidence of all that we have seen and experienced. So why is it that we worship bodies that bear no reflection of the greater lessons in life? Isn’t it true that most supermodels hit their peak before the reach the age of majority? Why focus on a blank canvas, or a body free of experience? I truly believe that God’s true nature is probably closer to the reflection most people see of themselves in the mirror–a body worn with experience. Let’s go back to the definition of perfection…the full growth or development of anything, a completed state. A life lived fully, should be seen as closer to being perfect than running away from it through growth hormones, plastic surgery or the other myriad of ways we try to look younger. I’m not saying that we allow ourselves to waste away, our bodies are temples after all…but the obsession with youth has to stop, especially since it sends an unfair message to young people that their bodies are the standard to which all perfection should be measured. Would I go back to the perky body I used to have? Ah, now therein lies the rub…the temptation would be great, but seriously no, I would not. I think I would focus on all the wrong things. As much as I struggle with aging, it is a natural part of coming to completion…and it is up to me, with the help of God to figure out how to wrap my head around it. Perhaps, it will mean for me that I am one step closer to seeing God.
As it so happens, when I am able to articulate a bit of wisdom, or share a challenge of sorts… others may sit back and breathe a sigh of relief they were able to move a bit down the path of righteousness…I just close my eyes and wait for the karmic tumble that I know I’m about to take. Generally, it manifests itself in a couple of ways, 1) In the form of a shit storm, most often metaphorical, where I am barraged by spiritual excrement in the attempt to call “hypocrite” and make me take back what I said, or 2) In the form of a person who makes it almost impossible to put into practice what I’ve just put out into the vastness of cyberspace. This time, it was number 2…yes, pun intended. Mind you, rarely does anyone put my teeth on edge like this particular person…a person who at our clinic in a full waiting room, once showed me a disgusting souvenir that his Philippino “girlfriend” sent him and was just barely able to scream at him to put it away before I vomited in my mouth. This is a person who after bringing me to the edge of my fragile sanity so many times finally stopped speaking to me because I wouldn’t let him come over to our house and use our pool for “rehabilitation”. Finally, I was free…of course until I shared my words of wisdom about seeing everyone through the eyes of grace. HMMMM! Was it the devil or God who decided to test that notion? Whatever, it doesn’t matter…because I get it. Sometimes it’s HARD, so hard that when I picked up the phone with my bright message of, “It’s great day at Edling Chiropractic…” that horrible, horrible voice, forgiving me for being so inhospitable made my hand involuntarily rise to my temple and start pounding the phone against my head until the phrase, “See him through eyes of grace” popped in there. Lord of All, I love you with all my soul…but that, my deity, SUCKED BIG TIME! Ok, I tried. I was kind. I kept my boundaries. I wasn’t mean. I listened, even though he only called to talk about his bracket for March Madness. I am humbled, and now I need a shower.
Please note: if I had multiple personality disorder, this post would belong to an emotional primordial element of myself that I blacked out into after walking downstairs into the man-cave and stepping on cat vomit on the carpet that has been there for months because it has literally petrified. I try to never go into the basement…for that very reason. Once in a while, though, I succumb to my optimist self, and believe the men in my house when they tell me the basement is clean and venture down into the pit. Well, like Charlie Brown keeps falling for Lucy’s football schtick I was blinded by my own optimism. The bastards lied. I didn’t lose emotional consciousness right away…I have dealt with all sorts of clashes with bodily fluids and wastes that are not my own, it was the array of filth, the biodegradable kind mingled with the non-recyclable kind and the ensuing stench rising up from the metamorphosis that pushed me over into blind rage….you know the kind that produces spittle from screeching unintelligible sounds like a she devil that has been caged way too long. I saw all too literally the remnants of all things tasteful and beautiful about our basement decor crumbling away and remember screaming something about acting like they were from the backwoods of Appalachia only to realize that I was insulting those poor backwoods people in Appalachia for using them in comparison to these animals. I know, by the look on their faces that I needed to put myself in a time out, so I opened a good bottle of white wine brought up some olives, salmon and almonds on a beautiful dish and locked myself in my room. After watching a mini Gilmore Girls marathon I felt my sentient self returning a bit…although I felt dizzy every time I heard them call me from the recesses of our house. I used to laugh at the antics of living in a household of boys. Now that they’re huge burgeoning men…I just think they’re stupid. The fact that their frontal lobes are non-functioning and they’re bombarded with hormones is of no comfort when their father mirrors the very things that are leaching away at my psyche. Pray for me.