Friday, May 31, 2013

own the mess

Tonight, I was tired. And frustrated. And overwhelmed. And a little pissed. The minute I got home from work, husband went (escaped) outside to mow the lawn, and I sat like a pathetic, sad lump with two children wanting my attention, wanting a lively response, and using more and more extreme ways to get it. I needed something interactive for them to do that would also get me engaged (even though I wanted desperately to lie down on the floor and stare at the ceiling)...and not a flashy screen, touch screen cop-out.
The house was an intimidating mess. Clothes and toys and toy related debris. Everyfuckingwhere.
Target: locked on.
I tried several attempts (polite requests degenerating into threats) to get my son to help me clean up. No dice. (When will I learn?)  And I could feel myself getting really pissed and Son could feel his manic success in getting a response.
Finally, I just started plowing all the shit, everywhere into one ginormous pile in the middle of the floor. Everything that had been pushed to the perimeter and the corners and under and on top of furniture. Then, after that satisfying exertion, I sat on a chair and calmly told Son that we had a pretty big mess here. We wouldn't be able to do anything fun together until we cleaned it up. Maybe he could think of some ideas of how we could work together to get it all put away. What could he tackle first? Say, stuffed animals?  And what should I tackle first? Blankets and pillows?
Next the big things with wheels.
Then the things that go in the play kitchen.
Then action figures (he stood them all up along the bay window).
Then cars (lined up along the ledge).
The final challenge was the contest: who could put the remaining miscellany into the toy tub the fastest. Of course, he won.
The other approach I've witnessed too many times to mention is to demand that Son pick it up by himself, yell and punish and get increasingly loud loud loud and angry, and get Son increasingly angry/sad/frantic until everything falls to shit and everyone feels wretched.
But this, among other things, completely misses the fact that it wasn't just my Son's mess. It was our mess. I played a role in it getting to where it was. I let night after night go by without setting limits or working with him to make choices and take responsibility and clean up. It became this daunting, scattered thing that no one could get a handle on and no one wanted to touch. So I piled it up. Got it all into view. And it became something that could be sorted and dismantled.
Tomorrow, I'll tackle the kitchen in a similar, though more glassware friendly fashion.
Maybe next, one of the other several overwhelming clusterfucks that I've assisted in creating.
And boom! There you have it: a metaphor for life.

Friday, May 24, 2013

us chickens

Whatever sense of life one has, it seems to me qualified by the literal biological thing we are, and by the fact that, though we may presume differences between us, we're basically, like chickens, not a wildly various life form. Our repetitions are bleakly notorious in every sense. But a world is, as it turns out, in the very word that says it, a "vir (man)-eld (age)," the length of a human life--and what one takes that as being, and what relations one feels it to have or works to accomplish: That's it entirely. If there is a world of insistent pain and poverty and despair, it is a human one. That I have never been able to forget.  
Robert Creeley in Take My Advice: Letters to the Next Generation from People Who Know a Thing or Two [Thank you, Ms. Popova]


I just caught myself thinking, "I need some motherfucking chamomile lavender tea."
Yes, I think I do.

postcard: in the year 04000

I have a terrible sense of history which makes envisioning the future really, really difficult. Lessee...  Continents' edges will have submerged leaving less room and less arable land and less potable water. We'll lose a lot of beautiful creatures. Beautiful beings. People will suffer. People will be kind. Arrogant, self-serving nations (wonder who?) will have fallen and new, more global nations will rise. I hope that the folly of eleventh hour thinking and reacting will have prompted a more collaborative approach to governance and resource sharing. But that would mean that the human race would have begun learning from history. People would have to be nothing like me and most people I know; to wake up from distraction; to recognize the sacred in each other and all things. Or maybe humankind will be wiped out by the after effects of the Great Asteroid of 03011, and Earth will be dominated by intelligent, self-aware descendants of the cockroach. Wait. Evolution can't happen that fast, can it? I suck at this.
In my view, people get to get together to form a society not because they're afraid and they want to strike a deal for mutual advantage, but it's much more out of love that they want to join with others in creating a world that's as good as it can be.
Martha Nussbaum, Examined Life