Thursday, June 13, 2013

Doll House


Sometimes I walk past these sweetly manicured brownstones in the city, and I wonder who lives inside, what their lives are like, if their corner of the world is as manicured as the facades of their homes appear. Today I am slogging through, dragging myself and my dark thoughts through the day. I am imagining everyone's life more perfect than my own, their pockets more able to carry the weight of their responsibilities, the bodies lithe and supple, their homes large and light-filled and artfully appointed, with enough storage for everything of course, and no penchant in them to worry, certainly not the way I worry about the most minute things, almost superstitiously, as if the moment I let up worrying, disaster will blindside me, so I have to keep it at bay by worrying. Sometimes a new danger occurs to me, one I didn't even know to be worried about until I chanced across it, and I feel a wild flash of panic, as if I need to make up for lost time, as if I better get busy worrying about that thing before it has a chance to find my house and come through my door. You might think I'm kidding, but sadly, I'm not.

I had an 8 a.m. meeting this morning, way too early for me. There was a panel of five women and one man talking about what can be done to curb gun violence. They offered the usual prescriptions about background checks and assault weapons bans, but there was also some exploration of societal factors that escalate the problem. One of the women, a psychologist, talked about the need to teach our children to handle disappointment, and to help them foster a sense of kinship with others, especially those who are different from them, rather than an absorption with self and tribe. And then she said this: "We have to allow our children to fail. We have to let them fail and show them we still love them and that the world didn't come to an end. We have to teach them how to pick themselves up after a failure and go on." It's seems so obvious, really. So why do I worry so about my children as if they are delicate hothouse flowers I must protect at all costs, not the resilient, wise, quick-humored souls I know them to be.

So here's a question: When you think about someone having it all, having goodness and wealth and health and beauty, having love and community and purposeful occupation, I mean everything we dream about having, who is that for you? What public or private figure comes to mind? I'm just curious. And I'd wager whoever it is, would be surprised to be seen that way because perfection, the kind we might dream of having, doesn't exist in our understanding. Maybe I need a new understanding.


20 comments:

  1. Ironically, I guess, when I read your last paragraph, the person who came to my mind as the person whom I think of as quite possibly having the most fulfillment in her life, the most community, is Ina May Gaskin who has spent her life working as a midwife and traveling the world to help women reclaim their rights to give birth safely with midwives. She has done much to point out that midwife- assisted birth is generally lower tech and has better outcome. She has written books, she has spoken all over the world, she is in films about her life and her work, she has inspired hundreds of thousands, she has changed the world, I think, although most people have never heard of her. Which means she's not really a celebrity. She's also lived, for the past forty years, in what used to be a commune but is now a co-operative community. And she has been married to the same man for those years. This is what I think of as someone who has truly succeeded in life. And yet, I have no doubt that she has worries and troubles. She is human as human can be.
    And probably not a whole lot of money.
    I also think of Jimmy and Roselyn Carter for obvious reasons. And, you know, Keith Richards inspires me because he is exactly the person he is and doesn't seem to have any interest at all in trying to be anything else. Many different human traits I admire in these people.
    And...I admire you, Angella. You are not afraid to admit you are afraid. I love you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mary, what fine human beings you look up to, and such a range, which doesn't surprise me one bit. I've always loved the way you hold the wildly different expressions of our humanness close to your heart. The key for you, i think, is authenticity. I love it. Thank you for this thoughtful sharing.

      Delete
  2. Nobody. There is nobody I think of as having it all. Every life has challenges. Different challenges than mine, but real ones.

    The other day I was sitting on the couch next to Indy and I said, "I'm so lucky to have you," and she said, "You're so lucky because you have everything", and she was right.

    Like Ms. Moon, I love you for saying just the all of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vesuvius, you are so wise recognizing your everything. And your Indy, too.

      Delete
  3. There is no way that their lives are as finely manicured as these facades. I don't know really about a specific person that I admire. I usually look at traits from multiple people. I admire people who seem to be at peace with what they do and who they are. I am loving the artist Kelly Rae Roberts right now. She seems to be doing something she absolutely loves and she inspires others to live their best life. I admire you too Angella. Remember no one is perfect. We are all trying to do the best we can.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Andrea, people who love what they do and are at peace with who they are--that's a wonderful yardstick. Thank you for your kindness, always.

      Delete
  4. For me, that person would be my friend Steve, from whom I found your blog. I have known him since college and although he is not a celebrity, he epitomizes someone who has done the best with his life, despite it's ups and downs. He also has the knack for making the best of his opportunities and for creating new opportunities for himself as well as figuratively landing on his feet when things don't go as planned. That is my idea of a successful person.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. e, i have often thought the same things about Steve. He is such an innately good soul, he strives to be kind, to have compassion for our human frailties, and he does certainly meet life's challenges with grace. and i have yet another thing to appreciate him for: introducing me to you.

      Delete
  5. perfection is really a figment of everyone's imagination. but sometimes it serves as a direction toward a goal. and goals are underrated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Candice, perfection as inspiration to move in a particular direction, i get that. that's a good way to think of it.

      Delete
  6. I don't think anyone has it all. we all have it.
    Ms Moon nailed it.
    love,
    yo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yolie, the duality of having and not having at the same time. It really reminds me that our experience of what happens very often depends on what we are able to hold in focus. love this and you.

      Delete
  7. I don't have it all. But I do love my life and believe that my occupation is one that I was born to do. Does that count?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. grady doc, i read a study yesterday by dr, david williams at harvard that found that black people get poorer medical care across the board because of the unconscious bias of doctors treating them, and that this subconscious tape that doctors (of all races) don't even know they are playing results in a 5 year shorter lifespan for black folks, a loss of $1 trillion for the nation, as well as a host of other effects. All i could think as i digested this information was "I am sooo glad that Kimberly Manning chose to practice medicine at Grady hospital, and to open our eyes by writing about it." Thank you, dear Kimberly. So. Much.

      Delete
  8. It's funny, because when I ask myself that question, I think, immediately, that no one has it all. But then I thought -- well, I actually "have it all" with the possible exception of wealth (financial). It really made me stop -- and pause -- and be grateful, which I'm loathe to do, far too often.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Elizabeth, you are a true Bodhisattva. Yes, you have it all, and how wise you are to know it.

      Delete
  9. There's not a person on this planet who has it all. We all have successes and failures and disappointments. We all have self-doubts and see only each other's public personas -- which is why we think other people DO have it all.

    I am, of course, flattered that E chose me in response to this question (unless there's another Steve from college who also reads your blog -- ha!) but believe me, I don't qualify. I am, as you said, "surprised to be seen that way." I have been very fortunate in a lot of ways, and I think I am blessed with an adaptable personality. I don't ruminate on things. Much.

    I think raising our children to be comfortable with failure, and to know that ALL difficulties are transient, are the keys to healthier kids. We also have to foster a sense of empathy. Kids -- adults too! -- need to look at others and recognize that we all feel the same disappointments and anxieties and anger and fear. We all want the same things, happiness and security. "The Russians love their children too," to quote The Police.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Steve, i love that you quoted that line from The Police. I think it is your empathy that people feel so comforted by; we want to stand in the space where you are, and learn from your example. Its why I missed you when you stopped blogging for a while, more than you might imagine.

      Delete
  10. I for one am relieved when things are not perfect, I know then that my life is real and there is still some of the journey ahead. I hope to focus more on living up to template I have of myself inside than of others around me. If I can live with myself then my feet are at least on the right path. Love you though, you I think are perfect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Radford, *swoon* hardly perfect, but i love you too!

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...