Distinguished ‘experts’ have written all kinds of books telling us how bad we are. They describe, in graphic detail, all the things we do wrong; how we’re mean, selfish, sad, greedy, pathological, doomed failures. Some use humor in sarcastic attempts to help us laugh at our hurtful habits or choices we make that, in thier special opinions, are ruining the world. They might use science or religion to condemn our defaulted choices, usually from a platform of privilege, like having eye sight, money or being flawless, followed by attempts to guilt or shame us into making choices they deem as better. Turn vegan. Recycle. Be a badass. Find your purpose. Organize your sock drawer. Don’t take it personally, but take thier advice. And that might be the problem. Deep down maybe they feel just as worthless, frustrated, insecure and invisible as the rest of us. Has any of it ever been personal?
I found a used book in a Florida bookstore 7 years ago called Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids. I’ve tried reading it but never fully understood whether or not the author was being serious. Every time I scan the pages it feels like I’m either in trouble or being tricked. I can’t imagine how parents must feel. As a child-free woman I’ve tended to view the whole soup to nuts process as a strangely cosmic insult. You get pregnant. Your body is taken over by a foreign host for 9 months. Then you spend 18 years posting rude memes about what a jerk and a burden your kids are until they leave and you talk about how much you miss them. It’s very confusing. I can’t parallel park so I decided I should definitely skip parenting. Pregnancy appears to make you nauseous, emotional, subject to public groping and unsolicited opinions about what you should or shouldn’t eat, what you can or can’t do. Don’t lift that. Don’t buy that car seat. You should breast feed. You should take vitamins. You shouldn’t gain too much weight. Poor people shouldn’t breed. You shouldn’t run. You shouldn’t work. You should work out. You shouldn’t have had a kid with that guy. Was it really wise to have a baby now? Oh babies are so cute! When are you going to give me some grandchildren? Again, I’m just a kidless outsider, half of whom was more or less a whoops. It seems like we drool out thoughtless hopes and fears from deep within our own unmet needs, worries or mistakes. I once went to a baby shower where the mother-to-be ashed into a gift bag while opening her presents. Another woman I knew spent years paying for expensive, painful injections so she could get pregnant. Two week after her twins were born I saw her out shopping without the babies, wearing a black, bedazzled baseball cap that said: It’s all about me. If there’s no fear in perfect love, where’s the love hiding?
Tonight we tried watching the new Ricky Gervais Netflix special; Humanity. It’s Ricky Gervais making fun of everyone, except we didn’t laugh. So we turned on Family Guy and watched a couple episodes; one was about retrieving a hidden porn stash and the other was about a brutish ant-bully who beats up her relatives. Oh. The Netflix teaser said Ricky was going to poke fun at how we take things too personally. Celebrities and dogs make convenient targets, apparently. I don’t know any celebrities but my dog has feelings. Before settling into disappointment I told my husband we probably take things personally because maybe, nothing has ever been personal and asking did I do that? is our desperate attempt to experience connection with the world. We might assume something terrible is our fault, like global warming or the sickness of a loved one, or whether something is the result of how great we are, like the success of an idea at work or the amazing achievement of a friend, proving we aren’t as useless as we might’ve been led to believe. My carbon footprint was smaller today since I stayed home trying not to break the earth with my existence again. Am I the only one who feels like a moral failure for breathing? We either over-give or over-take from our selves and each other in an attempt to make up for five minutes of uninterrupted, no strings attached, straight up love from the beings who brought us into the world, which we didn’t get because of iPhones, marginalization, unlivable wages, laundry or parental Pandora’s Boxes. I’m going to out-parent my crappy parents and you child, shall be my science project. Awesome. Feep. Feep. (that’s the sound a guinnea pig makes.) There are about 6 people on the planet who’ve received the gift ‘perfect’ parents. They’re nice in the same way vanilla ice cream is nice. I’m guessing half of them are related to Social Norm. The rest of us are clamoring for worth by taking those pathetic Facebook quizzes that morph our faces into airbrushed, pseudo-super models or destroying our selves into living expressions of abstract pain through addictions to drugs, achievement, martyrdom or non-profits. It’s all basically the same thing. Look how devoted I am! Look how fat, skinny, rich, poor, kind, mean, fantastical, different, vintage, terrified, burdened, alive with pleasure I am! Alive with Pleasure is a slogan for cigarettes. It might be the best oxy moron ever.
At some point, if we hope to arrive at peace, it’s got to become personal. We have turn to ourselves and say Hey messy brother and sister, I see you. I see YOU. Not the you your parents accidentally or intentionally hoped for, but the real you who showed up in the world. You’re a unique, divine, silly, complex, wondrously flawed and delightful living being. It’s so great that you’re here. Could you chew quieter and maybe be nice to all the people who aren’t you? Thanks. Great. Love you.
Can we dare to give and take life personally? Just curious.
This makes for harmony, that we all care for each other- Corinthians
I knew you before you were born.-Jeremiah