Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Juggling 101

On the one hand, there is the importance of gratitude, acknowledging all gifts (or, according to some teachings, acknowledging all things as gifts). In contrast is the necessity of allowing our less than glowing thoughts and emotions to surface and be noticed, for word is, they fester if we try to ignore them.

Here I am, in my one and only human, aging and drifting mind, trying to make peace between these combatants. Their feud is ancient, has, at times, involved throwing very pointy sticks and always, always unpleasant words and slapping gestures - or worse.

As I am the only candidate for middle, I am chief among the usual suspects when this pot begins to boil, again. In most days there is - or ought to be - time set aside for attempts at detente. Had I known this was how it would play out, I might have studied diplomacy or joined Ken Kesey on the bus and said to hell with it all. Sadly, balance, or the seeking thereof, is a part of my nature that I just can't flick off.

Since childhood I have been able to go to the cupboard, eyeball whatever remains and know how to prepare something from those unlikely bedfellows that will actually taste good. It must come from a different part of the brain. What I try to fashion from these incompatible tins is something the trolls wouldn't touch.

But those grim thoughts, barbed and rusted memories, are not docile when the lid is tightened. It may take years, lifetimes, but they plot and wait, marking their days on the seeping walls with yellowed talons, knowing they WILL be heard.

What would it be like, a tidy life? I doubt that one has ever existed. I have never met anyone completely free of issues, so no matter how swell it appeared, there must have been...imperfections. Still one can embroider, think the "what ifs" and imagine arriving in advanced middle age as solid and untroubled as a beloved, well-trained, good-natured dog.

That is the angst du jour, not as large as an iceberg nor microscopically pesky as a hangnail or hair that didn't turn out in the back, but still clingy and keening. Heartfelt thanks for every blessed thing versus all those years of...whatever. Would it be so awful to give each faction great helpings of cake, ice cream, pizza and sweet fizzy drinks and send them to their rooms while I go take a long nap?


Sultan said...

Each morning I often feel like I am having a hearty cup of angst!

Elisabeth said...

A powerful post, this struggle to blend the gratitude for things that are good with the resentment of things that aren't. I enjoy your paragraph on the desire for revenge, as you find it sealed up tight, locked away in your cupboard.

Wonderful writing, Marylinn.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Laoch - Sometimes the cup has been prepared before one's eyes are even open. Such is our mixed blessing.

Elisabeth - Thank you. I hoped the struggle would resonate for others...I can't be the only one trying to make this puzzle work out. That would really be frightening.

Donna B. said...

Oh Marylinn...only you can write about a day of struggle and have it sound so inviting...your writing is so just sweeps me away where I can only smile and dream....

Marylinn Kelly said...

Donna - Thank you so much, though we may not want to be swept away to my juggling, either as spectator or participant. Your words, however, I take very much to heart and thank you for being so gracious.

TC said...

Marilynn, when I look around and see the furious effort being put into those lives that appear from the outside to be neat and tidy, these days... well, the reaction here is not so much wanting to join that long gone bus as to momentarily wish to be thrown under one.

Honestly acknowledging and confronting the grim thoughts is to be praised. Usually they have some substantial basis. Bitterness of course is purely negative. But then again, Pollyanna was never a real person. Only in fiction is there happiness all the time.

As a matter of fact, from the evidence of the parts of your life you've taken the time and trouble to so generously share with us, I'd guess you are about as well balanced as it is possible for a person to be. And the dedication to finding and keeping that balance also appears to be a very good thing for your writing, which, it seems from here, benefits greatly from your practice of life.

An "advanced middle age as solid and untroubled as a beloved, well-trained, good-natured dog" has such a lovely ring to it. But my own current experience of the post-advanced-middle, admittedly entirely subjective, has been pretty shaky, and prone to forgetting its training at a moment's notice. The dogs I run into in my defensive pedestrian adventures seem to have a sixth sense that picks this up, and signals "Attack, now."

(And by the way, Marylinn, I'm sorry to be a bit slow getting back to you re. your proposal earlier today on my blog -- things are upside down here -- but yes, of course, it would be fine if you were to do a piece linking to those Depression posts. And it was very sweet of you to have the good manners to ask. In blogworld that sort of thing qualifies for the category my mother's people used to put under the general heading of "Will wonders never cease?")

Marylinn Kelly said...

Tom - You are among the wonders and please don't doubt it. I am warmed by your words which, in my best moments, I can absorb but at other times seem to describe someone else and a life less untidy. Anyone who thought this was going to be a picnic has, by now, realized it is more like running from the dog packs and dodging out-of-control cars...while juggling. Though it may not be close at hand, please don't forget there is solidarity; you are not in these circumstances alone and through your consistent loops to the past, you bring forth strength from other times, other lives. We may feel fragile, yet we are made of sturdy stuff.

Claire Beynon said...

Oh Marylinn, I know just how you feel. The age-old, daily grind of trying to find the fulcrum and make peace with our prickles. It seems to me you approach the task with admirable grace.

I posted today's blog with you in mind (you will take this in the best way, I trust- you are in no ways like the photos I chose!)... I guess I'm wanting to make a nod to you and your readers here, too, who are similarly engaged in the whole knotty dance. 'Ouch and laughter' make incongruous partners but we so often come up on them back-to-back, or hand-in-hand?

Thank you again for the way you articulate these things for those of us who come here. L, C x

Marylinn Kelly said...

Claire - I take your post in the very best way...most that I know are of the two (or more) ouch and laughter (bliss and anguish?) schools of inharmonious existence. Thank you for your comments and for the nod to us over here at MK where, yes, we rewind the tape and begin the knotty dance over yet again. I am always glad when you have visited. xoxo