Monday, October 08, 2018

And a thought

This is paraphrased, because I read it somewhere else and don't remember the exact wording, or where I read it:

"Start romanticizing your own life. Imagine your drive to work with some kind of funny cute thing happening. Turn things that happen into funny stories. Be the hero of your own life."

And you know, I used to be better about that. I guess I still do the "things that happen into funny stories" thing some times, but I used to be better at seeing my life as more of a narrative or a "movie" than I have lately. And maybe that's something I'm missing.

I think we all do crave "narrative" in our lives because we desperately want to believe that we're not just random bits of matter thrust into an uncaring universe. And who knows? Maybe creating a mental narrative makes it so? Maybe we can wrest meaning from life by telling ourselves there is meaning there and trying to look for it?

I think maybe also stopping to remind myself: "what you are doing is hard*, but you are doing it anyway" is maybe helpful

(*Hard = being far away from aging parents and worrying about them, teaching too many classes and trying to juggle too many things, striving to remain pleasant, or if not pleasant, civil, in the face of a culture that seems to me to be increasingly unpleasant and crass, carrying probably more than my share of a volunteer-work burden)

I think also maybe I get to stuck on the "doing the grand gesture" thing, where I really want some kind of work that will outlive me but honestly? Few people get that. (And sometimes the "work" that outlives you is something bad, so). Maybe it's enough to feel like I make a few people's lives better or happier just for today, or that I do something like pick up the trash on my street for today, even though I know tomorrow there will be more.

I'm not sure. The world is sometimes a hard place to negotiate and sometimes I wish I had the certainty that some people seem to have that they are good and what they are doing is right and important. Then again, in my experience, sometimes the people who are sure that what they are doing is right and important and good for others are the people who turn out to be petty tyrants and the like.

Another thing I used to do, that maybe I need to get back into doing, is making up little stories, like, when I'm stuck waiting somewhere. I used to do that *all the time* as a kid (and even a young adult). The stable of characters I used changed over time - as a kid, I had a little group of woodland animals (Hector the mouse, his best friend Harriet who was a robin....Hector's girlfriend Guinevere who was a pet mouse that escaped...) that had adventures. As a young adult, of course, the characters were human, but it was still a bit of a fantasy world in that the more unpleasant or nasty bits of being human didn't really intrude. Or I contemplated what it would be like to be a Hobbit, how I might make my living (I imagined I'd be an independent female Hobbit, who had a weaving business) and negotiate the world and all that. And admittedly, yes, those are escapes. But escapes are fun, and sometimes the outside world doesn't always have very many things to recommend it. (And I wonder: why are some people so 'anti-escape' or anti-imagination? Is it that they want us mired in whatever daily unpleasantness exists and never be able to get away?)

I also read something - though I take this with more than a grain of salt - that said we have become so attached to the imaginary characters (they gave the example of television, but I suspect books work as well - I know I have walked around with Albert Campion "living" in my head for days when I read one of the books in that series) that we actually register as feeling less-lonely when we think about favorite characters, and while I'm sure some people would say that that was "sad," and evidence that some of us weren't good at forming human relationships - well, in some cases, again, it's a nice escape. Because fictional characters (a) can be what we want to imagine them to be and (b) we can leave out the less-pleasant parts of life in thinking about them. So I can imagine, for example, what Hercule Poirot might say about some situation I was dealing with, or maybe the consolation I'd get from Applejack (how's that for whipsawing between genres) when something was hard in my life.

And you know? Maybe I need to let those characters back into my head a little more, instead of shutting the door and going "no, you're a monkey-fighting adult, you're not supposed to do that" but instead let myself imagine Poirot smiling enigmatically and raising an eyebrow and saying "Hein?" in response to one of the sillier things a colleague does, or hear Fluttershy say in my head, "Oh, that wasn't nice AT ALL and I am so sorry!" when something unpleasant happens to me.

I don't know. Maybe it does make me feel less alone.

(I recently joked to someone that "That's the only way I know I have someone who will listen to me" when she commented I was "talking to myself" (I was looking for something and repeating what it was so that I could remember the specific thing to find it). And like most jokes, there's a grain of truth there - I often don't feel heard. And I often don't feel like there's anyone who will speak sympathetically to me. So maybe I self-comfort by going back to the practice of imagining some of my favorite characters as friends? It sounds utterly mad written out, but I remember getting great comfort from it when I was younger...)

And maybe all of that is what's getting me down. That it seems to me of late I've let life, including its unpleasanter bits, get all up in my face, and I've sort of lost the ability to push it away for a few minutes and go "No, I am going to think about [random fun thing] instead." It's a thing I need to relearn, maybe. Because I suspect in the next few years there will be unpleasant stuff.

It's sort of a mental blanket fort: you can't live in there all the time, but it's nice to be able to retreat to it for a little bit and regroup. And I need to do more regrouping.

(At least I made it through the volunteer effort, and even though I was awfully keyed up when I first got home, finally calmed down enough to sleep....)

1 comment:

Lynn said...

My youngest son (he's 34) talks to himself A LOT. It's actually kind of funny. We joke about it sometimes and he says something about having "someone intelligent to talk to."