Thursday, February 12, 2009

The last few days have been kind of intense, not only because I've been really tired (yawn--there she goes again) due to messing around with my blog much too late every night, but also because of some questions I asked myself recently--questions about what I want from this blog, what I want from life--that have been hard to answer without a significant amount of shame, uncertainty, and, for lack of a better term, soul-searching.

What I'm ashamed about is wanting Fame and Glory--wanting praise and attention, love and respect. I've wanted the light to shine on me, to single me out as more special, more smart, more beautiful, more good, more strong, more perfect--more perfect at everything than everyone else. I've wanted to climb above the writhing heap of humanity and wave my flag, stake out my plot in the Land of Importance, in the World of People Who Matter; I've wanted to be noticed and known and remembered.

I've wanted all this good stuff for me, it's true. I've wanted to be singled out as better, which (there needs to be a standard of comparison) means other people should be less interesting, less worthy of attention, less special. I've wanted others to have less so I can have more; I've wanted happiness at their expense.

It's Darwinism, maybe: creatures want to survive, to spread themselves far and wide, and being known is a way of doing that. One's genes can't be shared through books or memories, but one's ideas can, and with no less significant results: survival of the fittest in the minds of others.

Since it's natural, it must be right, right? It's ok, and even healthy, to want recognition while other people linger in the shadows? And maybe, after reaching the top, one would discover a previously unknown inner strength, a deep hidden power that could be used to conquer, once and for all, violence against women? Should one pursue the desire for personal success because it's natural?

What is the answer?

The answer is that I was standing in line at the doctor's office today, waiting to be told which floor to go to for my blood glucose test, and in front of me was a middle-aged, grey-haired woman with her 7? 8?-year-old daughter. The daughter was wearing a nightgown with pyjama pants underneath and a pink-and-red bathrobe whose sash hung untied at the sides; on her feet, which looked proportionally too large, like a puppy's, she wore fuzzy neon slippers. Her light brown hair waved gently around her head and down her back in long loose braids, and she stood quiet and still next to her mother with an aura of seriousness I attributed to the sobering effects of the stomach flu, or maybe strep throat. Together they approached the registration counter, and while the secretary searched her computer screen, the girl leaned her face on the edge of the counter and turned it so I could see her fine, pale profile; she gazed outside, where it was sunny and full of bright greens and blues. After a moment, she must have sensed me looking at her, because she suddenly turned around and looked at me.

In her drawn sunken face, whose huge bright eyes hung above alarmingly deep dark shadows, and whose full-lipped red mouth was like an incongruous cry of life in all that white piqued skin, I saw a look I first took to be hostile and then realized was simply defensive; she didn't smile, when I attempted a lame smile of my own, and she didn't do much besides assess, apparently, that I was not something to worry about. She turned back and leaned against her mother; her mother hugged her as the secretary finished searching the computer screen. I heard the words "she can go" and "radiology," and then the mother and daughter turned and walked quietly past me.

That's where I found the answer to my question about what I want--about what I should want--from life: in a little girl, wearing pyjamas during the daytime and looking way too pale, in the way that girl gazed outside and maybe thought about playing with her friends at recess, in the way she looked at me as if she were used to being on the lookout for danger, in the way she leaned into her mother's body and in the way her mother held her.

I found the answer to my question, and tonight when I came home I hugged Lula long and hard and told her over and over that I love her. I gave her all the love I could give her; nothing else, I knew, really mattered.


Anonymous said...

I'd say don't worry about becoming famous and widely read. We'll know it's happened soon enough when we're standing in a crowded party and overhear someone behind us whisper to someone else, "Hey baby, let's go fruitcake."

Noopette said...

Thar be tears in me crusty old pirate eyes lady. Fruitcaking awesome.

uncleremus said...

what a beautiful gift you have received!!!!
its perfectly "normal" to let the ego fly & aspire to greatness--that's what helps us get thru this crazy mess called "LIFE"!! before i go further i want to say that you ARE "special, smart & beautiful", so quit being so hard on yourself!!! but you are beginning to see between the cracks of the "lie", the great, big, huge "LIE" of mundane life, & that's amazing!!! to let your heart be full of love, & to try to spread that love to others in this messy, angry world is indeed a challenge, but one that is worth pursuing!!!!
im proud of you Gorilla-girl!!!! you just remember that im always on YOUR side!!!!!

Post a Comment