Friday, January 12, 2007

It is, of course, all about me (One blog leads to another)


I am running Phelgm Fatale's reassurance around in my deteriorating gray matter. Specifically, the idea I may have more going for me than the diamond-laden lady who sat next to me on public transit and made sure to inform me she didn't ride buses. I have more going for me because I have diamonds (or at least a few cubic zirconias) in my fabulous brain. (Phelmy, I did appreciate the compliment, but it got me thinking...)

It occurs to me that I am often entertained by the symbols we choose to cling to as proof of our importance or uniqueness in the universe. Diamond lady on the bus. Non-public transit man on bus mentioning his truck. Broken, apparently, but his TRUCK, nonetheless.

Rolling, rolling on this theme...

Men who pose by their cars and motorcycles on internet dating sites, for example, and I'd say that covers 30% of them. Another 15% post pictures of their abs. No face, not much profile, just abs. Women who post pictures of cleavage or (believe me) single out their asses as portrait material. Yes, I'm jealous, but that fact aside...

Professors who insist on being called "Doctor" at all times, by all beings lower on the educational scale than themselves or who adopt the pained look of aristocracy being forced to move amongst the plague-ridden masses when asked to present a request for help or information in understandable form or in written English.

People who do not enter 12-step programs but adopt them as an entire life, clinging to the wound because it has become identity rather than something that needs to heal so that they can move forward.

Not all of this stuff is funny, I realize. Not all of it entertains me.

The man/woman who is so needy that he/she must be complimented on every small accomplishment, over and over again. Who doesn't learn to find that approval inside the self, but will maneuver and manipulate, wasting hours of everyone else's time and energy in order to feed the hunger for validation. Never achieving the feeling of validation, mind you. But never recognizing, consciously, that "empty" doesn't go away no matter how much praise is shovelled down the well. The well has no bottom.

We do well to be suspicious of needing praise. "Needing" being the operative word there. Nothing wrong with a little sincere stroking, nothing wrong with enjoying it. Needing it constantly, past the age of 7, is another thing.

Turning the pointing finger to myself and my own symbols:

Once I had to pick a personal symbol and give it up. It was an exercise in letting go of illusion and the thing I picked had to be intimate and important to me. It came down to two things - my hair and a necklace I'd put together from specially ordered parts & wore every single day. I wasn't courageous enough to cut my hair off.

The necklace was a silver chain with three heavy, circular silver medalions on it. The medalions bore three symbols: the healing hand, the serpent, and the tree of life. The symbols had meaning for me and I never took that necklace off. When you invest in a symbol, it becomes powerful, a talisman.

I gave it to my younger sister. And I'd like to tell you that I let go. But I grieved for that necklace. I thought of it for months. I felt vulnerable without it. Which was the whole point of the exercise, I suppose - a vivid illustration of attachment to false identity.

I have attached to being clever, to writing, to being "artistic," to looking slightly younger than I am, to feeling different and other, to being proud of my practicality and ability to look after myself, to articles of clothing and articles of conscience. I have attached to being tall, to being thin, to being right, to thinking of myself as honest or kind or fair or a law onto my myself or a team player.

I am the woman clutching her diamond rings and the man with the truck. We are all her and him.

We are hilarious and we are heart-breaking, aren't we?

If you had to give something up that mattered, what would it be?

19 comments:

beadbabe49 said...

One of the reasons I come back and back again to your blog (aside from the fact that you're an incredible beader, of course) is that you're always there in your writing. You aren't writing from some lofty plane or some philosophical corner...it's always directly inside you that the work seems to come from. That's rare and precious and always worth my time.
And that's the only precious thing I have to give anyone.

chuck said...

...my lucky penny, polylingual "posturing", pseudoHIP personae, Latin as the "sine qua non" of 'epigrammatic' reference, as the "je ne sais quoi" of literary referencing, as a Rosetta Stone for the serious student of
English language...oh, and my turtlenecks...

LJ said...

BB - I have no philosophical corner...and every time I see the foibles of others, I find myself looking in a mirror. Damn. And thank you.
Chuck - I think that's an A+ list. And it sounds like you didn't have to dig too hard to find it. (My list, by the way, could have taken up several pages of blog space, but I tried to stop short of boring hell out of all of you.)

Darkmind said...
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Darkmind said...
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goatman said...

Breathing air, it's a real pain.
Have a nice ohseven!

LJ said...

Darkmind - I felt exactly like that about The Langoliers. It wasn't his best, I figured - but it stayed with me. My review is still on Amazon & it's the only review I ever wrote.
It's under my hypenated, former married name.
Breathing air, Goatman! Whoa. You got me beat.

herhimnbryn said...

b is right...here you are and I have read this twice now and gone away and thought about it on and off throught out the day......what would I give up that mattered to me? i relate this decision to last year when we were informed that a bush fire was approaching and to be ready to leave the house. Photographs suddenly became very important, a couple of books I knew I could never rplace ( one 2 hundred years old) and the three silver beans my husband bought me when we got married.
So, there you are...they would be the things that I would have great difficulty in giving up.
ps the fire was controlled!

LJ said...

Talk about something that wasn't exactly a practice run, H! Wow.
We were evacuated (quickly) for several hours in my building while the fire department put out a fire - and I thought about photos & I grabbed my wallet. But all I actually took was my wallet. And it occured to me that actually, although I'd miss many things, most of important things, I carry in my heart. I think that's basically the case with you, too. You just had a bit more time to decide.

Darkmind said...
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phlegmfatale said...

Wow - LJ - just totally wow RE: this post. I've been grappling with something for a very long time and trying to pee or get off the pot and the thing about the necklace particularly spoke to me, too. I have a large silver cuff that is my talisman - my Wonder Woman bracelet, but I'll never have the gumption to give it up! It's funny how certain things we cling to are our armor. This post speaks to me on so many levels, and I love the directness of spirit here - yes, we are all the lady with diamonds and the man with the truck. And we all possess that most vile of human traits, the self-betraying sin of self-comparison in which we see the pathetic crutches of others but say "not mine - my validating article/trait/idea/act is cool and original and well-thought, unlike the mood-ring pet-rock validation of that yahoo over there. I'm unique." Yeah, we're unique, alright: just like everybody else.

zhoen said...

I've had to do this so often... through design or accident, I don't know that I have anything else.

My christmas ornaments, I suppose, but largely because they feel like a trust given to me, the elderly women in the neighborhood who bestowed them on the only family with children in the street.

I highly recommend shaving one's head once, at least. Know thy scalp.

LJ said...

Wow, PF - I think your comment was better than the entry! And yeah - that's exactly how my necklace felt. I really believe that when you invest meaning and energy into an object, and wear it every day, it becomes a kind of protection. It sounded so stupid to get bent out of shape about the necklace, but I did. Just overall, a great comment. Thank you.
Zhoen...For many years my hair was cut with clippers. I can remember when it felt long at half and inch. But it has significance to me , whether it's long or very short. For me, when I last buzzed my hair off, I was desperately unhappy and it was a denial of the softer side of myself. This is PURELY personal & I don't read it into anyone else's short hair. Growing my hair (personal, purely personal)was a symbol of the time when I reclaimed a measure of happiness and sexuality.
And by the way, I can understand why you wouldn't want to give up the ornaments.
I swear that objects, walls, things absorb the energy of their makers or owners. When the energy is sweet and generous, as with your ornaments, it would be a shame to have to give them up.

Teri said...

My hair would be hard to give up. I always suppose that if I got cancer and was going to lose my hair, I'd cut it off first and donate it to Locks of Love. Then I ask myself: why not do that anyway? But I know I couldn't. I look at pictures of myself when my hair was longer, and others with long hair, and I pine for length. I get finicky or tired of dealing with it or I don't get it trimmed for a year and the ends look like shit - then I impulsively get 6 inches cut off. I convince myself that I like it at first, but then I fall into melancholy and miss it. I always feel less than if my hair is not a certain length - but as you said, it's personal. I never read that into others' short hair...in fact adore and envy short haircuts on other women. So what does it symbolize for me? It's my beauty, I guess. I place a lot of value on beauty. I see beauty in so many people but cannot see it easily in myself. I have always told myself I'm not pretty enough for short hair. Sometimes I think it would be liberating to shave my head. I wish I could get to a place where I was so secure and so joyful that love and beauty just radiated from me. Then I could pull off a shaved head, or short hair.

This question sure opened a floodgae of neuroses in me, eh? Thanks for letting me talk about my hair. :)

Darkmind said...

(O)

Mella said...

(o)

Vita said...

(0) Jan 24

Koru's Daughter said...

(o)

Minor Deity said...

What's wrong with abs on motorcycles? ;)