There is a lens to our awareness of others that we constantly have to adjust for context and proximity. For example, the personality of a comedian is one that often explodes the personal to mythic proportions for laughs, and as the audience grows, the message changes because the audience and impact also changes and the comic must take responsibility or create derision. But, as ego also inflates with the kind of surreal success of celebrity (often) it tends to shut off empathy. The very thing that gave them insight when they started, becomes their blind spot. And those they love, loved and lost, suffer in that darkness too. It is a trajectory we see often in those we once considered “great”.
At one really difficult point in my life I read Cat’s Cradle. I fell in love with Vonnegut. He had characters that were people I had met, crazy people like the ones I grew up with. So after reading Cat’s Cradle I read everything he wrote. Then I read everything that Kilgore Trout wrote. Then I read other science fiction authors and even tried to write a bit.
He was a true human being. He is not unaware of the cruel, and stupid in humans, but he is himself neither cruel nor stupid. He lets us sigh as we acknowledge the damage we have done as a species and laugh at our own folly as we stumble towards kindness. And laugh. And laugh.
Check out the Shapes of Stories a hilarious lecture on how to write a million dollar story: http://youtu.be/oP3c1h8v2ZQ
Dr. Suess made me want to read. Vonnegut made me want to write.
I know I am running the danger of becoming another boring senior who uses a blog to go on about her grandchildren BUT I am actually going on about painting my granddaughter!
I can’t afford to buy a lot of gifts but I have oodles of art supplies so I make a card instead of buying one whenever there is an important birthday. I think a 1st birthday is significant so here it is, complete with sparkles and sequins.
I have a hard time getting started on a painting and yet once i get going I really enjoy it.
It’s always nice when things work out.
But About Complaining About Stuff:
What I want, and how things are do not always agree. But there are so many things contributing to everyone’s inability to do “their absolute best” all the time, not the least of which is how they are treated by others. Paying attention includes sometimes just calming down, and appreciating that “when all is said and done” isn’t it great that we are alive, and at the same place, at the same time?
I guess that’s why I like babies. They’re like (the best) tourists, happy to be here even if they are occasionally confused or uncomfortable, just enjoying the ride.
I mean, air conditioned buses? Whenever they show up, they are wonderful! I can ride one to a library and use the WiFi, watch a movie or show or do research, even have a nap and escape the heat, with my grandchildren!
See how I did that?
*this is not referring to actually speaking out where to not do so would mean doing harm.
I once saw a cartoon with a very chest fallen man getting a tattoo. You can see that it is just being finished and there is the common mistake, “looser” instead of “loser” and the tattoo artist is saying, “Oh, geez, sorry man!” and the sad is saying, “Naw, doesn’t matter…”
I used to write long and what I considered heart-felt and thoughtful letters by hand to a friend who moved far away. When I finally got a letter back he said, “it is really annoying how you always write ‘really’ with only one ‘l'”. In my defense, it was before personal computers and GOOGLE.
So now I have no excuse.
I just re-read my last blog post.
I apologize to everyone who’s eyes bleed when they see such glaring mistakes!
Fifty years ago I was given a simple math question, along with the kids in my class, to figure out how old I would be in the year 2000. I was eleven and I had the thought: I’m going to die in fifty years.
Well last year was the year my eleven year old self thought she would die and when I had bronchitis and almost choked on a cough drop alone in my apartment and then most recently had a spontaneous hematoma, I thought, “This IS IT.”
And it wasn’t.
So, considering I still don’t really know what being alive is all about and therefore can’t really know what being dead is about either I will just continue on as I have done.
But I will eat more chocolate and maybe enjoy a glass of beer more often.
I was out in a social environment, drinking a beer, chatting. In reference to something, someone said, “Oh yes, you are a clown aren’t you?”
Having said out loud that I was retired made it true. But it has been a long time coming. First off the fact that parents started telling me that clowns were “scary” and they would prefer that I not dress up. (I think I am way more scary without my clown makeup but hey, if they don’t want clown face I don’t do clown face.)
But I also started to notice how physically demanding it was. I love talking to the kids about what they imagine they are becoming as I paint their faces, or just seeing their level of commitment as they patiently wait as I apply the paint but there are many younger people who have steadier hands and stronger backs.
And I have grandchildren now. I am so lucky to get to see them as they grow into this world. I think now I need to spend my time doing what I can to see they continue to have one.
I just finished “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande and now I am reading, “The Man Who Wasn’t There, Investigations into the Strange New Science of the Self” by Anil Ananthaswarmy. The first made me feel a lot better about my mother’s death, which was a “good death” all in all. He makes reference to several other books which put me on another path of reading, hence “The Man Who…”
“Thinking Fast and Slow” is the next one I hope to get from the library although I am 369th on a waiting list.
I have had a few experiences and I possess a few patterns, at times frightening and other times wonderful . But I have never enjoyed being “odd” or “weird” except perhaps when I finally gave up trying and just practiced Zazen and Tai Chi a lot. It is exciting for me to learn that neurology is coming up with some very neat connections; New ideas that sometime sound like Buddhist psychology, Zen, Shinjin. 🙂
Originally posted 2010
A few years ago I had just gotten out of the hospital when I learned of the tsunami that hit South East Asia. I remember thinking, wow, the earth is way more upset than I am. I had started crying for no reason and could not stop so I checked in to the hospital after not […]
I am very sorry for those affected by the shootings on the Danforth in Toronto. I was heading away from the Danforth to my home in Scarborough a short time before this and went to bed without ever a thought that this could happen, especially in such a friendly neighbourhood…
I got in an argument when I was a kid about whether a certain plant was poison ivy. I was certain it was a Trillium that was not yet flowering. “So rub your face in it!” was her response. I did. I was wrong. Boy was I wrong.
We all hate finding out we are wrong. We might enjoy the humiliation of someone else, especially a blow hard being proven wrong or laugh at the slap-stick that a wrong premise can lead a character to repeat over and over. We recognize it because we have all known that often uncomfortable realization.
The thing about being wrong, as Kathryn Schulz author of “Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error” points out, it feels just like being right. Until we find out we are wrong we can feel pretty good.
Then, after we realize we are wrong we might continue to act as if we are right because we think we have too much to lose by making such an admission.
On the other hand we can believe that they are so wrong we have to bring them to justice, or to the court of public opinion, or just remind them, frequently. We can even feel pleasure from this punishing of others for their stumbles. It is unfortunate because we will be wrong again too.
Being wrong is part of being human. How a character in a fiction deals with the realization and all its ramifications can drive a story but in real life, it is an opportunity for us to learn and grow as a human being, and in real life we get lots of opportunities. Lucky thing because learning to be an adult human being is what your all too human life is about. It really is.