Friday, January 12, 2007
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?
Posted by LJ at 6:24 PM