Monday, July 4, 2011

Should Recognition be your Ignition?

I think we all get days like today... Mine just happened to be a Monday. I don't blame you, Monday, but really, was it necessary to make today, today?

I get down - really down sometimes. And I don't know why I call it "down" - truly, it's just a low in my depressed state. I guess it's like my Gramma's depression being called "nerves" - suicide attempts and hospitalization and they just called it "nerves"... Go figure...

Anyway, today was one of those days. Just bleak and grey and lonely and sad and the cool kid stole my candy kind of days. Cold pizza and grapefruit couldn't cheer today up. Chips may have helped but it never occurred to me to go find any... None the less, it seems when I get these lows, people I know post inspirational quotes on their Facebook status.

You were born an original. Don't die a copy.
~ John Mason

This made me sadder still. I don't know why - perhaps because I struggle with my identity : Who I am versus who I want to be versus who I think I should be. The phrase "Authentic Self" keeps popping into my head. On one hand, I believe that phrase is junk. Authentic self - how can one be anything but authentic... Then on the other hand, I think I don't think I understand this - because if I do, I'm truly one of the most unauthentic people I know. I am the image of who everyone thinks I should be... Which is the key descriptor of "Fictional Self".

Where did I get lost? Or did I? Was my shining, new self tarnished by childhood drama? Do I blame my parents (FYI - I don't - just theorizing here)? Television? Media? A plugged-in world? Was I suppressed, oppressed and depressed? How did I get here? Bad choices, uninformed choices? Why did I chose to lead my life as the vision of how others see me (or is it just how I think others see me)? How do I be more 'me' without offending, upsetting or destroying all that is my life now?

Dr. Phil seems to think he has the answers. Or at least if I buy his book, I will have them (in complete detail, his website just has teasers). Like this one:

1. Did you at one time listen carefully to your innermost voice? Describe this moment. When was it and what was the circumstance? Do you suspect that somehow, somewhere along the way, you have lost contact with it?

Yes. The last time I heard a voice, I was taken away... In all seriousness, don't we quell the inner voice during childhood? Don't say this, don't do that - we all tell our children. And when they ask why, we say "Well, we don't do x or y because..." enter the fallacy here. In reality, we don't play with our penis at the dinner table because it's rude. We don't say to Mommy "Why do you have this lump?" when he's pointing out one of the many rolls of baby fat you haven't lost yet because it'll hurt her feelings. We can all argue why these two examples aren't done - we'll say it isn't nice or polite or what good people do.

Reality is, all of it is a convention set up by someone else. It isn't how any of us start out living our lives. Kids call things as they see them. They are authentic because they haven't been told different.

My son is very social. Embarrassingly social. His father and I are introverted. Having our son speak to every person imaginable causes a high level of anxiety in both my husband and me. I don't like talking to people I don't know... Mostly because I'm afraid of looking stupid and of bothering them. I'm not sure of my husband's motivation but I know mine. My skin crawls when I have to talk to people I don't know. My hands sweat, I get nervous. It bugs the hell out of me.

But I have a social, outgoing, gregarious child who must - must say hi and bye to everyone he sees. Everyone. I'm not exaggerating. We stopped in to buy a drink and a snack on our way home, he had to talk to the store clerks and the two other patrons in the store. Grocery shopping on Sunday, every person we saw, he greeted with a smile and a "Hi!" When they don't answer, he says it louder. And when they still don't answer, he says "Mommy, why didn't that man/woman hear me?!"

I've started telling him "Some people aren't as friendly as you." I say it in my normal speaking voice. I also have never shushed him for doing it.

You see, what he is doing is fine. There isn't anything wrong with talking to people. Looking at people or asking questions. I like that he's outgoing. I like that he's confident and believes in himself. I like his authenticity and I'm not going to go out of my way to hamper that.

Sure, I'll tell him not to play with his penis at the table, but I will not shush his innermost voice. Even if it's my feelings he hurts. When he asked if my rolls contained more Mummy milk I just told him that every person is different and special and we should celebrate and encourage those differences.

He then likened the differences to dinosaurs - specifically dinosaur excrement... (this video will only play for those in the USA - YouTube has poor quality videos of the same episode).

So where was I going with this? I don't know. I started off sad and melancholy and thought I'd wax poetic about life and the great tragedies... But as I started to examine this idea of self, I looked to my inspiration - my son - and it's like the light found me. His innocence and youth are my guides and although I don't know the answers or even my path forward, I know that I'll find the way.

Here are a few other points to ponder. They all got me sad today but rereading them tonight, I don't feel quite the same way. Maybe it's because I'm wearing my three year old goggles. ;)

The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another. ~James Matthew Barrie

There is just one life for each of us: our own. ~Euripides

There are only two great tragedies in life: one is never getting what you want. The second IS getting what you want. ~ Oscar Wilde

And just in case you are wondering, the title of this post is from The Northern Pikes Big Blue Sky.


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