Thursday, September 6, 2012
Do Wha....We Need to Do
I'm a day late for my weekly post. A day late, and a dollar short. At least a dollar, but more on that below.
Anyway, I apologize. If you're not bothered, readers, I apologize to myself, because, after all, I am trying to increase my self-control by small steps, and sticking to my blog schedule is part of my routine. Also, increasing self-control increases the ability to reach goals, and well, you all know that's part of my underlying concern in this exploration of the flip side of failure.
I've had a hard time focusing on this week's blog post because it's back to school week. Also, the refrigerator has become untenable. The produce freezes in the produce bins, and if I turn down the temperature, the milk spoils. I've been storing the jars of things and various grains in the produce bins, so there are a half a dozen different slowly wilting greens crammed onto the other shelves and wedged between the milk and the oj. It had to stop. Naturally, because we bought a fancy house, with a once-top-of-the-line kitchen, whose appliances are now crapping out--to use the scientific term--the refrigerator, which is fifteen years old, is a built-in. "Built-in" is a euphemism for "twice as expensive to replace" as a regular fridge. So it goes. Everything we have in our kitchen is a built-in. This is our penance for refreshing our eyes on our fancy house after years of Manhattan rentals with roach-repellent-gel-stained walls. And undersized refrigerators. We had to replace the fridge this weekend. It took a fair amount of psychic energy (that is a fancy way of describing hyperventilating over the prices of built-in refrigerators) and time and money to purchase a replacement.
Then school began. For the 5th grader, it was an easy start. For the 9th grader, however, it's been a different story. We've switched her from her tiny private school to our town's public high school, for PC Various reasons,* money among them, but also to broaden her opportunities and social life. And so we can afford to replace the semi-broken appliances before they are totally broken. We've been cooking on three burners since we moved in, and I mean that literally as well as metaphorically.
So that transition to high school has been rough. Day two, today, was better than day one, and that is about all we can hope for in this life. (Reference to Eloise, by Kay Thompson.)
Meanwhile, I've been digging into Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow, by Marsha Sinetar, which is so Eighties you wouldn't believe it. Words like "synergy" appear. There is much talk of Jung. Jung was big in the Eighties. Especially his idea about our shadow selves, the darker sides of our personalities. As in, even the most optimistic among us have moments of despair, and that causes us shame, which we cover up with even more optimism. But don't get me started on Jung....
The most Eighties aspect of the book is the role of self-esteem. Self-esteem is the bedrock upon which our right livelihood must be founded. Clever readers, you noticed "right livelihood" as a Buddhist term, didn't you? And so does Marsha Marsha Marsha, the author of Do Wha. She refers to Zen master Shunryu Suzuki's book Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. I have that somewhere in my fancy house. I bought it in the Eighties.
But I digress. I'm allowed. Self-acceptance is part of the platform, according to Marsha Marsha Marsha. Accept all aspects of yourself, even the shadow parts. You can do this quietly. You don't have to stand at the window and shout out, "I'm neurotic, I'm anxious, and I have low self-esteem, but that's OKAY." You can stand in the corner and whisper it to yourself. Then you can begin to Do Wha.
So that quote at the top of this post really caught my eye. I mean, I started out loving reading, writing, and drawing, and after many years of training, believed they were false roads to success. Well, don't you know that the minute I let myself do these things again, the better I felt.
Since I've got a need to soul search, as well as to write, I felt kind of vindicated by that sentence. Also, after listening to Michelle Obama circle back to her children being the center of her life in her speech at the Democratic National Convention, I am reading it with my own two daughters in mind. I'm taking note of the things they love now--dancing and writing and figuring things out for the 9th grader, reading and drawing and writing for the 5th grader. That way, if they spend several soul crushing years conforming to the way they think they "should" be, and forget them, I will, hopefully, remember that sentence above and remind them, and trust they'll find livelihoods that encompass those talents and needs and not waste a lot of time, like I did.
*"PC Various" is a shout-out to any Harvard librarians or library assistants who might be reading this blog. Sorry. Couldn't resist.