Saturday, March 24, 2007

Ponderings: a (Long) Musing in Three Acts

Act One
Today I'm having a hard time relaxing. It's Saturday. I'm free from school for a couple of days. Oh, sure, I have Econ, Law and C&I to read, and scarves to (try to) finish for next week's Market Day, a house still in chaos, cats needing attention, and chores to do, but I'm not "busy" as in obligated elsewhere. I'm on my own time. I should be kicking back and breathing while I can.

Yet, I can't. My focus is off. In my head, I'm weaving, cross-stitching, sewing up the knitting needle case I bought fabric for last week (forget the yarn stash—I'm feeding the addiction with other sources, such as fabric and floss!), reading, having a beer on the deck in the warm sunshine. In reality, I'm procrastinating on the computer, sending myself on a "mission" to Big Lots for bins with wheels to contain the newspaper/plastic recycles in the closet (rather than all over the house), reading old newspapers and doing Sudoku puzzles (my newest obsession) rather than doing actual work (studying, cleaning).

What is my mental block about? I wondered.

Ah. That's right.

Doing Sudoku, for example, is to me a good mental workout and something to focus on while my brain resets itself. It's important. It's also fun. I remembered as a child having a preoccupation with Word Search Puzzles and Fill In The Blanks, buying books and tearing through them at a pace so fast that the publishers couldn't keep up with me.

To my Mother, such activities were a waste of time, non-productive, and the equivalent of "just sitting around all day". (I know I criticize her a lot, but I did love her; she was just a very, um, difficult person to please sometimes.) She didn't see the value in it that I did. As I've said before, she was a painter, an artist—she was a CREATIVE, for goodness' sake—she should have understood how the creative mind works.

Perhaps she did, but she had her own blocks about it, and tried to pass them on to me. I seem to have inherited a lot of them. She would pass by me on the way to the laundry room, see me sitting there working a puzzle or teaching myself a foreign language and comment, "Are you just gonna sit around all day doing nothing? How about you either help me a little or go do something constructive?" ("Constructive" meaning chores, or studying, or, well, anything but something that I wanted to be doing, it seemed.) It always irritated me that she said that, and I felt guilty for "just sitting there"—even if that's what I really needed to be doing right then after a hard week at school.

I still feel guilty and irritated, but there's no source. It's all internal. Today I realized it's because my internal tape repeats the Motherisms: do something constructive; do your work first, then when it's finished you can go goof off for awhile; you'll never get anything done if you just sit around all day with your nose in a book. So my problem is, I feel compelled to finish ALL my work—every last bit of it—before I can "allow" myself to relax or do something I enjoy just for me.

Trouble is, the work is NEVER done. I could clean from dawn til dusk for three weeks straight without a break, and maybe the house would be closer to what I envision (if I survived it). My studying is finite, thank the Universe, but everything else, household chores, bills, cleaning, repairs, errands—it's continual until the day we leave the planet.

Hence, I'll never get to "go goof off for awhile". Because this work stuff will never end until I end. And it doesn't go away just because I ignore it.

Now that Mother is on the other side, if there is consciousness there, I wonder what she'd tell me now. Would she stick to her living beliefs (do the work now, play later after it's done)? Or would she tell me, "I was wrong! Play now, enjoy every minute, do a little work every day but don't make it the focus of your day because life is short and the work is unending anyway so learn to live with the mess and just focus on what really means something to you"?

Act Two

Ah, there's the rub. I want to spend my time knitting, weaving, sewing, playing with dyes and yarns, spinning, writing music again, playing guitar, riding my horses, learning to quilt, learning all sorts of things and making lots of beautiful things for myself and others. Most of what I yearn to do doesn't exactly fall under the category of Gainful Employment (although if you refer to my earlier post, I think some of them can transmogrify into GE), and honestly, I really just want to win the MegaMillions Jackpot (even if it's "only" $12 million) so I can avoid working a J.O.B. and spend my time doing the things in the list above. I really resent that W.o.r.k. would intrude upon my life 40+ hours per week and get in the way of living. I mean "resent" in a deeply profound way to the extent that the thought of re-entering the world of 9-5 makes me physically ill.

But that's beside the point. So say I did win the lottery or found another way to be financially secure, and spend my day learning and doing and making pretty stuff. Then what?

One day, I'll die, and all the knowledge/learning I've gained will die with me. All the stuff will become A Problem for my heirs, something to be sorted, organized, inventoried, priced, appraised, stored, tossed, or otherwise distributed, much to their chagrin and likely with much annoyance on their parts at the intrusion my leftovers will make on their lives. It's possible that 90% of it will have little to no value to them. Things that I put my heart and soul into will be labeled with Post-It price tags and dumped onto a card table at a Yard Sale they'll be pissed they have to waste a good Saturday on. Maybe somebody will see the value in Great Aunt Jeanne's hand-dyed handspun cat hair, or my stacks of notebooks filled with sketches or lyrics; but the reality is, almost everything I create will become dumpster fodder when I leave.

Why do it?

Why work so hard to learn, when the learning is finite?

I suppose the only way to make it "worth it" in the global sense of the word is to do my best to pass on the knowledge moreso than the stuff. Maybe I am destined to leave a legacy of learning in some area.

I hope so, because I hate to think of the volume of yarn, floss, fabric and UFOs my poor grandnieces will be buried under when I die. It's truly reached SABLE* point. Imagine how bad it will be after another 40 years (God Willing).

Act Three
I hope that as time passes, so will the rawness I sometimes feel when I think about my parents. It's an odd juxtaposition of missing them profoundly, yet feeling like I'm dealing rather well (better than anticipated, I'm not falling apart at the seams or bound for the nuthouse). I'm able to talk freely about them, if in past tense, and I don't exactly hide the facts nor do I make it my introductory opening (nor, hopefully, do I dwell on them too much).

But I know it freaks out a lot of people when they do find out (mostly the younger set who still believe they are immortal), and there are unexpected moments that make my eyes sting. Not the things you'd think would trigger emotions; rather, it's the more mundane things that get me. Like an incident several weeks ago at a restaurant while awaiting the arrival of my dining companion.

A waiter, who couldn't have been more than 20-21, rushed over to say goodbye to his parents, who had been dining there. They were all of five feet from where I was sitting. I listened to their very ordinary conversation—you know, the usual—when are you done with classes, will you be coming home next weekend, how was your test, we'll send you a check, etc. And the young fellow's responses, slightly embarrassed yet pleased, the caring bond evident between the three. He hugged both of them firmly and waved cheerily as they turned to leave.

I felt my heart swell, and my eyes prick with tears. I couldn't understand why such a common exchange would elicit such a reaction from me.

When my friend arrived, I relayed this story to her and posed the question "why". She said, bluntly, "because you know you don't have that anymore and it makes you sad".

She was right.

So to those of you who still have one or both of your parents, I say, cherish the mundane. Enjoy those irritating little sayings they impart upon you, their annoying habits, the endless criticisms about your life, the small moments of everyday conversation that seem to mean nothing. Once they are gone, you'll miss it, and you'll realize it meant everything.

* SABLE: Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy

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At 10:49 PM, March 24, 2007, Blogger Sheepish Annie said...

Mental "blocks" are interesting things. You can shove through them and forge straight ahead. Or you can work around them and learn a little something in the journey. You never quite know where it is going to take you...

Takes longer, but the insights make us more creative in the long run, I think. I'm a 'muser' from way back. I probably look like I'm wasting time on many days, but the wheels are always turning!

At 1:48 PM, March 25, 2007, Blogger Mother of Chaos said...

I suspect this the human condition. We'd rather be doing something else, but the everyday needs of life take up so much of our time we just can't.

Life has never been easy, I know. On the one hand, I'm not in danger of starving, freezing to death, or being eaten by a saber-toothed rabbit...on the other hand, the grinding nature of our modern life, the constant pressure...sometimes I wonder what we've gotten for what we've given up.

Hey. Go take a load off. Relax. Do some Sudoku. See, the thing about all those "never-ending" chores? They'll still be there in a few hours. And you'll be better able to handle them after a little R&R.

That's my theory, and I'm stickin' to it. :)

At 8:12 PM, March 25, 2007, Blogger Jeanne said...

Wow, you managed to slog through that entire post? I'm impressed! And humbled. Thank you for reading, and for sharing your perceptions (always welcomed).

At 10:16 PM, March 26, 2007, Anonymous Stick said...

Aw... I miss my Daddy, too.


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