When I was pregnant, it was hard to move fast or raise my feet up as I walked down the hallways at work. My body was hard at work making a new person. It felt like gravity was a lot stronger around me.
Now I am feeling gravity more as I fight through this medically administered poison called chemotherapy. My body is very busy coping with all its processes.
Very few of these are what I want to think about. I’m struggling through this dense gravity to find my focus and keep my attention where I want it to go.
The world is still going, and I have stuff I want to keep up with. I’ve got a job, a family and every stuff I want to complete. I have to put some effort into keeping my attention where I want it to go.
IT’s easy when I am tired and not feeling well to do the stupid things. The easy distraction: food, silly internet games or videos.
And If I am willing to spend this life on small insignificant things, I will get insignificant rewards
I am not satisfied with insignificance.
So, I have to use the times when I can focus to come up with a plan and set of steps I can take when I gravity is dragging me.
Yes, I’m less capable than I’ve been. But I’m still capable.
I’ve got two more months of chemo. I don’t want to lose that time. My old friend the to do list can help.
It’s not so demanding this time. Not a HAVE to do list, but more of an aspirational TRY to do list.
With tiny steps. 15 minutes on each thing is a decent goal. I’ll have to let that be enough.
I’m still under here, beneath the gravity. Inching forward like a worm on the surface of my big ideals.
It’s the movement that counts. It can be enough.
Nurses keep saying to me “One day at a time.”
It makes me crazy.
I have goals, and I have plans. These take time. In this third dimensional time space continuum the time is where the goals become reality.
And the realities don’t—can’t! –happen one day at a time.
In the book Why Time flies the author says time is in the experience of it. It’s not as rigid as numbers and science would promise.
when chaos rises and the storm lands in my life
living space is far smaller than one day.
I can only occupy the
only when peace returns can I can see further
once again I can reach for something else
Dreams, wishes and aspirations…my days can contain more
Small horizons are for small people. I am not fighting this hard to be small.
“I am large—I contain multitudes.” Walt Whitman said it in Leaves of Grass. I want to be large. Can I contain the multitudes of dreams I carry?
How to fill my time, attention and energy with worthwhile things is a goal in itself.
I think of J. Alfred Prufrock’s lament,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons…
I find the strength to push away the tiny dreams. I will lift up mine eyes to the hills…
Tiny steps on big ambitions. Like Mary Oliver said, this is my one wild and precious life.
Back to Leaves of Grass:
The past and present wilt—I have fill’d them, emptied them.
And proceed to fill my next fold of the future.
I will redeem my time.
Something was in my eye. IT was the middle of the night. Flicking on the light int he bathroom in the middle of the night, I stared at my sleep-swollen eyes to see what it was.
My eyelashes were missing.
The humiliation of losing the hair on my head wasn’t enough. No, my girly curly lashes had to go too. It’s a new kind of naked.
I’m trying to keep it together. I have to make a presentation –a shape and a shading–in the world in order to be safe.
Cats do this. If she is startled or threatened, kitty with arch her back, puff her fur and look big. I didn’t make this up, and I’m already deep in it.
In the dark of 3 AM, I ask the internet what I need to know aboutfalse eyelashes, hoping I can string together a passable substitute to keep face.
In my weakened state the internet serves up a lot of stuff. The Barbie movie slips in.
As a toy, Barbie is provided with a car and a dream house, with clothes and shoes. The movie has brought out the women who see Barbie and her world as something to aspire to.
I know some women who have a sense that their path to the car, house and
party time is the same as Barbie’s:
they are gifts because they are beautiful. And men are the givers.
In my life, I learned early to mistrust men and I only relied on myself to
get what I needed with no strings attached.
But I ran into women who had a different expectation. They see men were the
source of stuff. And for these women beauty is the currency to exchange to get stuff.
This was so foreign to me that it took decades for me to understand it. For
many women, that system of exchange is more real than compound interest.
The gift economy is an old way of surviving. Some people—some women—get a
lot of benefit from it. It’s a way to be safe.
I’m not as skilled at it, and since my eyelashes fell out I’ve lost some of that value.
It’s a small thing. Only the idea of a thing, really. It’s part of my reaction to what my eyelashes mean now that I’ve lost them.
Less silly is that things fall into my eyes more. The eyelashes protected my eyeballs in a real way.
I got some false eyelashes. They aren’t so easy to get the hang of, but they do add a lot of Barbie power to my eyes.
And they protect my eyeballs from particles. I guess I have to add on all the unnatural pieces until the real things come back together. And trust that I’ll be safe.
In the sleepless hours of the night—morning really—I am reaching for things to listen to. I’ve run through a lot of audiobooks, but the other night I picked up the end of a lecture series on Russian History.
Other than my own country I have spent the most time in Russia. I lived there for a year and a half, shared meals, laughter, and lots of worried and doubts. It changed my life. I was eager to finish the Russian history lecture.
The second to last lecture started by talking about the Sixties in the Soviet Union. The iron grip and terror of Stalin was past. The obsessive push to be a communist and comrade was getting weaker.
The ‘60s in America had a music revival and the Vietnam war to protest. The 60s and 70s were full of consciousness raising and re-examintations. The soviets had a War in Afghanistan first.
They even got pundits together to talk about what just happened with that whole Stalin thing The Soviets had a folk music thing too. They started to pass around a word “Lichnost”—the Russian word for “person.”
Personhood. Individuality. After decades of uniformity and lockstep indoctrination in the Soviet mission, the soviet people wanted to chill out and have a good time with family and friends. To enjoy themselves with what made them happy.
I even learned of a wildly popular ballad called “My Arbat.” The Arbat is a street in Moscow which holds an open market. Around here we would call it a swap meet or a flea market. In opposition to the tight control of goods that the Soviet government.
The lyrics say “ My arbat—my religion—” A strong pushback against conformity and toward personal taste and individual preference. A return to acoustic guitar music, to individual preferences and allow for a single perspective.
That was 50 years ago. It was a spirit that swept throughout the world.
In the dark hours of the morning, it struck me again. Right now in my own country I am feeling a resistance to the conformity of opinions and actions. There has been a tightening of acceptable opinions, and I have had things erased off my social media by the tech lords.
I am longing for more personal connections—for individuality and family. It is meaningful to see where this has happened before, and how things might move in a different direction. People have been here before and come out of it. I am looking for the way to connect to the arbat of ideas and personal tastes again.