The Post-Pandemic You

Of all the articles predicting what post-pandemic life will be like, the most questionable are the ones that suggest shucking off your cocoon and emerging like a butterfly. “Try out a new you!” exclaimed an essay in the NYT. What a great idea, right? The me I’ve spent my life being is like a costume I can trade for a better one! By better, the essay strongly implied more extroverted. More fun. More outgoing. More optimized!

The Times essay provoked 400 comments, most from introverts who took issue with the notion that their personalities are flawed and need retooling. Some proposed that extroverts learn to shut the hell up, instead.

One of the suggested routes to a New You is to just fake the You you want to be. Pretty soon, the faked qualities will stick! Or, if you’re the methodical type, you can simply make a list of new behaviors that run counter to the Old You. If you’re unsociable, make a point of starting conversations with strangers. Interestingly, there were no strategies for busybodies who need to mind their own business or for controlling types to back off and relax.

Instead of fretting about the weight I’ve gained, I’m thinking about a New Me who is chubby, or let’s go wildly politically incorrect and just say fat. The Fat Me will have a throaty smoker’s laugh which I will employ with gusto. The Fat Me will have to be a lot more fun, and less whiny. I’m assuming people have less patience with a whiny fat person than a whiny thin one, but what do I know? A friend once accused me, in the midst of a raging diatribe about my awfulness, of having no fat friends. I was upset and mortified until I realized she was mistaken.

If I manage to lose the extra pounds, I can try out a Tolerant New Me. I will go around agreeing with people’s idiotic statements and I’ll stop shouting at the people on TV. I’ll stop making fun of mispronounced words like when Ivanka says “impor-dant.” I’ll stop arguing about word usage, like the expression “bored of” when it should be “bored with” or “bored by”. If I can’t stop arguing about this entirely, then I’ll stop taking the argument so seriously that I have to send ten emails proving I’m right.

What about a New Me who can drink beer from a bottle and talk about sports? I have secretly always wanted to be this Me. While I’m at it, I’ll stop carrying a handbag. I’ll use a functional, nondescript backpack or just use my pockets. Girls who can survive without a handbag have always been my idols. So free of vanity and insecurities! They’re not dependent on lipstick or eye-drops or Polarized sunglasses: they are free spirits who will go camping at a moment’s notice.

A Capable Me, a Fun-Loving Me, a Me who lets her hair go gray, a Me who doesn’t want to kill so many people, a Me who would just get up off her ass and do yoga or Tai Chi or pursue volunteer work or stop talking about death….they all sound delightful.

But, big surprise, people are how they are.  To quote an expert in child development, “You may be a certain way for the rest of your life, but the big issue is how you manage it—or not.”

Have you considered how the last year might have changed you in some fundamental way? Have you realigned your priorities or just lowered your standards in choosing the evening’s Netflix menu? Let’s hear about it! Just don’t go on about sweatpants, because the Old Me can’t bear one more word about fucking pandemic sweatpants.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Narcissists and Psychopaths

Against my better judgment, I joined an online support group for people estranged from their adult children. Sure enough, the expression “misery loves company” proved to be wholly inaccurate. It was like being submerged in a vat of hurt and anger. There was no upside, at least not for me.

Without exception, the members were female, which itself is depressing. Don’t dads care about being banished ? Do they prefer to suffer privately? Or is it largely mothers who are the target of estrangement? The mothers seemed to want guidelines on how to proceed on their Journey, ahem, and seemed willing to act on the advice of total strangers. Most were in agony: How could this happen! they wondered. Some were so bitter that they proudly renounced the children who had renounced them first.

Some seemed pretty nuts, evidenced by long sagas of petty squabbles and resentments. And yet even they didn’t fit the description of narcissism, the premiere accusation of estranged adult children. The narcissist mother is usually the villain of the piece. It’s probably more satisfying than just saying I can’t stand my mom. Here’s my private joke for a anyone enmeshed in this situation:

Why did the chicken cross the road?
Because she’s a narcissist.

I subscribe to a newsletter from a well-known expert on family estrangement, and one of the latest was titled “Is My Child a Psychopath?”. I laughed out loud, and who wouldn’t? What an extreme and somehow apt counter to the assumption that your mom is a narcissist.

If being labeled a narcissist isn’t bad enough, there’s now a new kind of narcissist you can be, if you exhibit the exact opposite behavior of narcissists! I thought someone made this up, but no, there’s now a diagnosis called Covert Narcissism, where instead of being shameless and insensitive, you are hypersensitive and filled with shame. To me, this is like finding a new kind of depression that is defined by being happy.

Fuck this, right?

Likewise, calling people psychopaths because they won’t act how you want them to is a pointless proposition. I believe I know only one psychopath and their behavior is pretty psychopathic by any standard. I think we should save this label for only the most deserving.

The worst thing about the support group was the sappy self-care platitudes and the icky affirmation memes or whatever they’re called:

These things make me more despondent, but they seem integral to the Self Help Industrial Complex. People seem to love them. They remind me how averse I am to positivity.

You know that expression “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”? It strikes me as more of an AA aphorism than something Einstein would say. Most of us are doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result. Only Sisyphus knows and accepts that repeating his efforts is useless. The definition of sanity is cultural and keeps changing, but I hope at least some of us can escape being labeled narcissists and psychopaths.

Let’s use gentler language when throwing around diagnoses. Yesterday, I kindly explained to someone who was arguing with me, “You perceive disagreement as an attack, because of your fragile personality structure.” Try saying that during a dispute.  It’s the kind of thing I love, but also the kind of thing that got me kicked out of the support group. Oh well.

 

( btw C.W., if you are reading this, I love you so much, you can’t imagine.)

 

Posted in Disorders, grief, Words | 7 Comments

OF COURSE I’ll be Watching!

In a few hours, I will be watching the Meghan and Harry interview along with the rest of the world. Not the whole world, though, because there are those who think they’re above such trivial things. “Oh, I have zero interest in that,” they will note condescendingly.

Think of all the people over the last few years who insisted, “I just don’t watch politics,” like that’s an achievement.

People who are too serious minded to watch the Oprah interview, and don’t care about Kim and Kanye’s divorce, and make a point of not knowing who Twitter is mad at, should be kind enough to tell us what they are interested in.

If they’re deliberately skipping the Meghan and Harry thing, what will they be doing that is more valuable? That’s what I want to know. Will they be reading Kierkegaard or pondering the Philosophy of Despair?  Are they learning a new language or considering the nature of time and space?

I want to hear what Meghan and Harry have to say about their exile from the Royal family. I hope it’s shocking, or at least revealing. I’m interested because I’m a human being (barely!) and I’m fascinated by the behavior of my species. Because I have a working brain, I’m curious about the consequences of this marriage, and on a lesser level, about any marriage that anyone wants to tell me about.

I guess the aversion, or feigned aversion, to celebrity culture stems from the notion that gossip is a female past-time and therefore trivial and ridiculous. Who knows. I’d just like to hear what subjects and activities are “better” than these human dramas. When anyone tells you loftily that they have no interest in something, demand that they explain their ACTUAL interests.

Over the last year, I have spent hours reading essays on things I never cared about, and I’ve explored worlds that have nothing to do with me. I’ve tried to learn more about my areas of interest, like psychology, writing, and denim. My brain is packed with useless knowledge and some knowledge that might help me navigate my way through the torments of life. None of my knowledge will help me converse at a cocktail party but maybe it’s a form of hoarding. And nothing I know is more worthy than the things you know. If you know about golf or wine, good for you. I personally won’t be interested, but I won’t act like I’m superior.

So, Meghan and Harry, I can’t wait. I hope Oprah will interview Kim Kardashian, Cardi B, AOC, Desus and Mero, Mary Trump, Rachel Maddow, my neighbor who survived a brain tumor and a daughter in law who hates her. I plan to watch more Murder Shows, awards shows, and hopefully more autistic dating. I dare you to explain why your lack of appreciation for any of this makes you superior in any way.

I wouldn’t dream of judging anyone by their TV choices, unless it’s The Voice or that awful Ellen game show that is beyond the realm of any primate.

Posted in Celebrities, News, Rants | 7 Comments

The New Nuts

I already knew that people are nuts, but spending some time in Facebook groups this week has revealed a whole new level of nuts. Maybe it’s The New Nuts. Group members are like piranha, waiting for a newbie to make a comment so they can perform a feeding frenzy.

A few years ago, my sister told me about joining an Opera group on Facebook. According to her, she made an innocent comment, and everyone pounced on her. She was shaken by the experience, because she has an extensive knowledge of opera. I didn’t understand why this happened until now.

Why do FB groups propagate this crazy behavior? Are the people who join groups already crazy? Or does being a group member generate deranged tribal behavior?

I wondered if groups centered on the arts attract irritable snobs. But a friend told me her Laundry Tips group was nuts too. This is kind of exciting, actually, and tempts me to join a million groups, to observe how petty and hostile they are.

I learned this shit the hard way by commenting in a group called “Victorian Images”. I rarely look at it but I did yesterday. There was a sepia photo of a stiff little child standing on a chair, as her mother knelt at her side. Stupidly, I commented that it looked like a postmortem photo. It seemed obvious, in fact, that it was a postmortem photo.

Before I knew it, everyone commented on my ignorance, some angry, some mocking. It was incredible. It was death by a thousand cuts. One person exclaimed that I wouldn’t be “satisfied unless there was a Dead Victorian Baby”. I suggested that they were acting nuts, and conceded that I might have been wrong.

So I posted the image on my own page, and got a unanimous vote that the baby was dead. So I went back to the group and said the baby was totally fucking dead, quoting Monty Python, etc etc.

Now, everyone knows that neighborhood groups are contentious, except for their hatred of the homeless, but I just had no idea about other groups. Why don’t these nutcases take their fury to Twitter, where the action is? Are they pussies, only brave enough to vent in a private FB group?

While I have a deep disregard for trolls, I’ve decided to become one on Facebook. Everyone hates me anyway so why not? At least I can have some fun. I read a thing about losing weight in my Sisters AARP newsletter for Black women. It asked me to list ten things that made me feel good, besides eating. TEN, are they kidding? I could only think of 4. You try it.

Well, now I can add trolling to my list, for a total of five things. Yay, me.

Posted in Disorders, Rants, revenge, Words | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

Life Isn’t Fair.

If you’ve ever been a child or a parent, you’re well acquainted with the aggrieved outcry, “But that’s not fair!” I was already a seasoned mother the first time I heard another mother smugly reply to her kid, “Well, life isn’t fair!” It was upsetting. Why does anyone think that’s a good lesson to teach??

I mean, duh, life isn’t fair, as we found out for the billionth time on Saturday. It’s so fucking unfair that they won’t find that cunt guilty as charged. It’s unfair that he gets to get away with so much corruption and inhumanity when everyone else has to suffer.

So much unfairness, but why shouldn’t we let children strive to practice and expect fairness? Just because we can’t have it doesn’t mean it’s not an honorable value. Fairness is a universal concept and ideal. It’s hardwired into us. “Studies have shown” that even chimps understand fairness. There’s some experiment with bananas that illustrates this but I’m too stoned to remember the details.

Children just have an innate understanding of fairness, and it isn’t our job to turn them into cynics.

I may just be pathologically immature in still being shocked when things aren’t fair. I can’t seem to accept the unfairness of it all. I still whine, “So unfair!” at least once a day. I always say it when our Netflix won’t load, because it’s NOT FAIR.

If you expect everything to be unfair, though, you’ll start to think it doesn’t matter. You’ll be like a Republican senator! And no one wants that.

Here’s an example: My mother-in-law is 104 and not happy. She can’t see or walk or do anything but on she goes. It’s so not fair!

Likewise, I am unable to be with either of my sons, and surely that’s unfair. The universe is indifferent to fairness. But people have certain primal instincts that operate without logic.

I want things to be fair against all odds, and I want you to want that too. If you have kids and haven’t yet assured them that life isn’t fair, I hope you won’t.

Going back to my mother-in-law (because I’m that stoned) I can’t understand why people react to her age with, How wonderful! or Bless her heart! There is nothing wonderful about such advanced old age, despite that French Nun who insists on living to 117. It’s led to my husband and I affirming a wish to die before everything craps out. My husband once said he’d be ready at around 75, but of course he’s extended it a few years.

Have you Boomers come to a decision about old age? Have you settled upon a reasonable expiration date? I just read a quote by Nabokov, about a disliked writer who had lived to an advanced and “entirely unnecessary” old age, and I laughed out loud. 117 and even 104 fit into that category. Bless everyone’s heart.

For me, ten more years might be enough. I’d like to die with my hair and teeth, let alone a functioning bladder. I think that would be more than fair.

You?

(c) Diane Arbus

Posted in Disorders, Horrible Stuff, News, Words | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Is This Happening to You?

I’m having a big fight with my sister but I don’t have to worry about her reading this because the fight was about her refusal to read my blog.

I don’t feel she’s obliged to read my blog. I’m just fascinated by her militant stance about not reading it. A couple of years ago, I realized that she hadn’t read something I thought she would enjoy, and asked why she didn’t read it.

She said, “I already know you in real life. So I don’t need to read it!” She sounded really annoyed. My husband still thinks this is funny, and he likes to say stuff like, “Did Bob Dylan’s brother say that, when Bob wanted to play him a song?”

So, I’m not Bob Dylan, but it might be a useful analogy because it implies an inexplicable resistance and an absurd excuse for it.

But, unbelievably, it came up again last week when my sister wanted to list words we hate, and I said, “Oh, guess what, I just wrote a thing about that on my blog! Go look, it’s a great list.”

God I am stupid.

She wouldn’t look and said derisively, “I didn’t realize I had to read it NOW.” Reflexively, I asked, “Can you tell me again why you have this fatwa against reading my shit?”

This was texting, by the way. She changed the subject, leaving my question hanging there. Now I really wanted an answer, not least because she was withholding one. I kept repeating the question, and she would write back, “I have a stomach ache.” “I need to lie down.” I asked, “Please just finish this sentence: I will not read my sister’s blog because”.

Now she texted, “Please stop”. It reminded me of that Beverly Hills housewife who winds up a fellow housewife and then shrieks, “Staahp!”

I wouldn’t stop. I called her passive aggressive. Eventually, she announces that she received an email from a family member, that was about me.  I didn’t believe this for a moment, so I asked to see it. She said, No, I don’t have to show it to you.

I called her and offered her $500 to show the nonexistent email to me. When she refused, I offered $1,000, and she still refused! Now I was laughing hysterically. I called her a  pathological liar and advised getting professional help.

So we aren’t talking. I could apologize for insisting on a question she was not equipped to answer. We could go back to our close relationship, and wait for the next bitter conflict.

I wish I could stop trying to get answers from people! No matter how badly you want one, no matter how desperately you try to get one, there is only silence. Or a lie about an email. Or a defensive complaint about being expected to just be honest. People want to be how they are without having to justify behavior. Fair enough. Or not?

Most of the time, I know the answer but just want the person to acknowledge it. Then it becomes a harangue and oops, you are a monster because you won’t give up. In my heart, I believe that I’m willing to answer any question to the best of my ability. It is a feather in my fucking cap. Just try me!

But. A couple of weeks ago, I had a big fight with my wonderful husband (who will read this) when he referred to my hair as “brown.” I flew into a rage and demanded that he call it “blonde.” When he punted, I ran around the house going “BROWN? Brown! Really??”

I have been inside my house for way too long now. It’s too much. My three modes are boredom, anxiety, or wondering if I’m actually dead already. Actually no, that’s a lie, there is “TV Time” in the evening, when we smoke some weed and I enter the reality of Our Shows. If Netflix isn’t the only thing preventing the complete collapse of civilization, I will eat my hat, and yours too.

Posted in Disorders, irritants, Rants, Words | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

A Better Heaven and a Great Big Shell

If you watched the memorial today for the 400,000 Americans killed by Covid-19, symbolized by two long columns of light, you must have cried like I did. All the people on MSNBC cried too, either sniffling or sobbing, all grateful for this impetus to pour out their grief after holding back for so long. For four whole years, actually.

I thought about Joe Biden’s son, about my son, about Jamie Raskin’s son, Melissa Ethridge’s son, Stephanie Seymour’s son, Stella Tennant’s children, all the unknown families who wonder how they will go on.

The only ray of light is the knowledge that Trump will be back in Florida, unable to torture us the way he likes to.

I blew my nose and went for a walk, the wind howling in San Pedro like the tornado in Wizard of Oz. I thought about the columns of light, how they represented the light each person had brought to the world. In my head, I assured Max, “You are always here with me.” I looked down and there was a great big shell lying in my path. I wondered if I was allowed to take the shell home, and realized, Duh, it’s there for me!

I hope everyone gets a chance to cry today. You might not get a big shell, but a good cry can be cathartic.

I hope tomorrow goes well, but if it doesn’t, I’ve just learned the Jews have an afterlife, and you can’t believe how fucking spectacular it is! As a devout atheist, I know next to nothing about religions except how stupid most of them are. I thought the one cool thing about Judaism was the absence of Heaven, or a Judgement Day. Wrong as usual! Here’s a detailed description of Jewish heaven, long but worth it I think. After you read it, you’ll probably want to convert. L’chaim!

~

Rabbinic literature includes many legends about the World to Come and the two Gardens of Eden. These include:

The world to come is called Paradise, and it is said to have a double gate made of carbuncle that is guarded by 600,000 shining angels. Seven clouds of glory overshadow Paradise, and under them, in the center of Paradise, stands the tree of life. The tree of life overshadows Paradise too, and it has fifteen thousand different tastes and aromas that winds blow all across Paradise.

Under the tree of life are many pairs of canopies, one of stars and the other of sun and moon, while a cloud of glory separates the two. In each pair of canopies sits a rabbinic scholar who explains the Torah. When one enters Paradise one is proffered by Michael (archangel) to God on the altar of the temple of the heavenly Jerusalem, whereupon one is transfigured into an angel (the ugliest person becomes as beautiful and shining as “the grains of a silver pomegranate upon which fall the rays of the sun”).

The angels that guard Paradise’s gate adorn one in seven clouds of glory, crown one with gems and pearls and gold, place eight myrtles in one’s hand, and praise one for being righteous while leading one to a garden of eight hundred roses and myrtles that is watered by many rivers. In the garden is one’s canopy, its beauty according to one’s merit, but each canopy has four rivers – milk, honey, wine, and balsam flowing out from it, and has a golden vine and thirty shining pearls hanging from it. Under each canopy is a table of gems and pearls attended to by sixty angels.

The light of Paradise is the light of the righteous people therein. Each day in Paradise one wakes up a child and goes to bed an elder to enjoy the pleasures of childhood, youth, adulthood, and old age. In each corner of Paradise is a forest of 800,000 trees, the least among the trees greater than the best herbs and spices, attended to by 800,000 sweetly singing angels.

Paradise is divided into seven paradises, each one 120,000 miles long and wide. Depending on one’s merit, one joins one of the paradises: the first is made of glass and cedar and is for converts to Judaism; the second is of silver and cedar and is for penitents; the third is of silver and gold, gems and pearls, and is for the patriarchs, Moses and Aaron, the Israelites that left Egypt and lived in the wilderness, and the kings of Israel; the fourth is of rubies and olive wood and is for the holy and steadfast in faith; the fifth is like the third, except a river flows through it and its bed was woven by Eve and angels, and it is for the Messiah and Elijah; and the sixth and seventh divisions are not described, except that they are respectively for those who died doing a pious act and for those who died from an illness in expiation for Israel’s sins.

Beyond Paradise is the higher Gan Eden, where God is enthroned and explains the Torah to its inhabitants. The higher Gan Eden contains 310 worlds and is divided into seven compartments. The compartments are not described, though it is implied that each compartment is greater than the previous one and is joined based on one’s merit. The first compartment is for Jewish martyrs, the second for those who drowned, the third for “Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai and his disciples,” the fourth for those whom the cloud of glory carried off, the fifth for penitents, the sixth for youths who have never sinned; and the seventh for the poor who lived decently and studied the Torah.

Posted in grief, News, Religion | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Awful Words Roundup 2020

Yes, awful words are still awful, even in a pandemic. Let me put it this way: If I were being drawn and quartered, and someone said “Yaass queen!” I would flinch.

This year has brought a whole trove (or tranche, to use a horrible word that’s having a moment) of stupid words related to Covid 19. Should we bother including them? There are so many!

Pod, bubble, maskne, quarantini, zooming, super-spreader, herd immunity, and all the rest are hard to get away from, and unpleasant reminders of how our culture has devolved. What is your least favorite Covid-related word or phrase? Mine is “new normal.” There are so many that the Oxford English Dictionary, for the first time, declined to choose one for it’s New Word of the Year.

Let’s go with words and phrases that have reared their ugly heads in 2020 to make our miserable lives even more miserable.

Qanon
Proud Boys
“So” at the beginning of each sentence
Fire (meaning great)
Lived experience
Deeper Dive
Unpack
Cancel culture
Truth to power
Self-care
Karen
Tik-tok
Ask as a noun
Shattered norms
Thirst trap
Inflection point

The other day I heard a guy on the news say “Marxian” instead of Marxist. I also heard someone say “uncomfortability.” I objected but nobody cared. People on TV also keep saying stuff like “My wife and myself” or “Myself and my crew” because they must think myself sounds more intelligent than me. People trying to sound intelligent are just ridiculous, whereas people who say “anyways” are at least sincere.

As this fucking horrible year comes to an end, I am ready to announce my vote for most egregious of all new words: WAP. WAP is so tragic, I don’t know where to begin. A wet pussy is obviously a good thing. I mean, it’s better than a dry pussy. It’s a good thing to discuss between lovers. But it doesn’t belong in an anthem!

Snoop Dogg admitted that he was against WAP, explaining that it referred to a “jewel” that a woman should not devalue. I think he got some shit for that on Twitter. Cardi’s husband Whatshisname”pushed back” by saying something about empowering female sexuality. I’m sorry, no. Just as I don’t want a guy to sing about Big Hard Cocks, I don’t want to hear WAP. I wouldn’t want little kids asking about WAP, but that’s just me, i.e. Karen.

Weigh in with your own list of awful words! I want to see what I left out.

Posted in Celebrities, irritants, Rants, Words | Tagged , , | 13 Comments

American Music Awards 2020 Exegesis

 

I’m pretty sure you people are too smart to waste your time on this awards show, but do not fear, I watched it for you! I missed the beginning with the Justin Bieber performance but it’s safe to say that it was embarrassingly awful.

When I started watching, a huge fat blonde woman was singing a duet with an older black guy. They were sitting down, probably because she was too out of shape to stand. Imagine my surprise when she turned out to be Katy Perry! What happened, I thought, is she still pregnant? I googled her, and she’s already had her baby with its stupid name.

After that, or at some point, that guy The Weekend performed his hit song with his whole face in bandages like an accident victim. I’ll bet there’s a reason but I’m too lazy to google it.

Megan Thee Stallion came out with some sexy dancers and lip synced a raunchy song about how much she loves her body. There is so much body to love, Megan! She is like a Mount Everest of a voluptuous woman. She is a fleshy giant who can twerk with a bored look on her face, which seems like a special talent. You can’t imagine the twerking, literally. I see why she’s a star: She is mesmerizing.

Poor J Lo was left to writhe around on the floor in a sheer leotard thing, FOR NOTHING! She was just an unfortunate also-ran, unable to muster any sex appeal due to the tragic amount of effort she puts out to make a buck. No J lo, please go back to the block.

What else? This guy Something Capaldi who has the most annoying radio hit of 2020 came out to bleat a different tortured heartbreak anthem. I forget what his hit is but you know it if you’ve ever been in a CVS. I saw that he was chubby and sad looking and it made me feel bad for hating him. I will just hate his voice, not HIM, going forward.

I think that Bad Bunny guy performed, or maybe he just won an award.

Billie Eilish performed and it was the usual with a couple of twists. Now that everyone has seen her large chest, she made sure it peeked out of her Kimono thing. She sang in an under-amplified voice and pranced around looking impressed with herself. When she fell backwards off a miniature stage, it was a nice little shock. Otherwise, I’m tired of her shtick now, are you? I want her to knock it off or go away.

A rapper called Doja Cat accepted an award by saying “wow” over and over then raising her arms in triumph as though she’d just won the Olympics. I really really hate her, having witnessed her lack of even a smidgen of talent on another stupid music awards show.

What do you think of smidgen? What would be a better word? I’m pretty stoned so I’m blanking out. A soupcon? An iota? A shred?

Anyway, to sum up, Megan -1, everyone else – negative 100.

Posted in Celebrities, News, Rants, Words | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Finding Equanimity

The Sanskrit word upeksha means “equanimity, non-attachment, nondiscrimination, even-mindedness, or letting go.” Upa means ‘over,’ and iksh means ‘to look.’ You climb the mountain to be able to look over the whole situation, not bound by one side or the other.

In Buddhism, equanimity (in Pali, upekkha; in Sanskrit, upeksha) is one of the four great virtues (along with compassion, loving kindness, and sympathetic joy) that the Buddha taught his disciples to cultivate.

Equanimity isn’t indifference. It’s a balance that comes from inner stability–remaining centered when surrounded by turmoil. It’s a state of acceptance, but not in the sense of being resigned or defeated. More like being at peace with things as they are.

Does this sound like self help gibberish? I learned the concept from a podcast by an expert on family estrangement. It’s my first podcast! That’s how much the subject weighs on me. Being powerless in a critical aspect of your life is so fucking difficult. It can lead you into a never-ending loop of regret, guilt, anger, remorse, and despair.

I am beginning to see that the best way to approach insoluble situations is to do nothing. Not just do nothing, but to feel nothing. Nothing can be a good choice, and in my interpretation of equanimity, it is essential. Accept what is and let it wash over you. Don’t react to the feelings or urges attendant to helplessness or misery. Just go, Uh-huh, and go about your business.

Until this week, I would have called this approach “denial” and I would lobby hard against it. What’s more pathetic than denial? I am constantly pointing it out and deploring it. It’s part of my Just Admit It worldview. Everyone hates me for this bossy, superior stance but there you go. I want everyone to face their own life, even if it’s a tragedy, and to face up to their demons. I feel it’s their duty, as a human being.

But once you face up to it, why keep suffering? Recognize the truth, evaluate its awfulness, and then stop struggling with it. If you can’t change it, assume a state of equanimity. Say to yourself, My parents are awful, my kid hates me, I am useless, everyone’s crazy…and then return to a state of calm. I think if I practice this enough, it may set me free from my daily torment.

I will aim to only get mad about the things that are fun to be mad at. Bad grammar, hideous denim, and the ex-wife. Also, music awards shows. Did anyone see that stupid American Music Awards the other nigh?? Oh my god, so awful. I guess I should go write an exegesis.

Namaste or whatever.

Posted in Disorders, Religion | Tagged , , | 3 Comments