Identify what is most important )0( Eliminate everything else
The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world. Dr. Paul Farmer
The suffering of others is not alleviated when no one knows about it.
There is no one right way to live. Daniel Quinn Ishmael
The only thing that you need to start an asylum is an empty room and the right sort of people.
We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be. Kurt Vonnegut

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

ledgers & (Toulouse-) Lautrec

Albi has this cathedral, which has this fresco titled The Last Judgement.

It is below the organ in the very large cathedral.  Impressive, but what I like the best is that fresco depicts dead people at the time it comes...judgement.  They are all holding ledger books.  The dead people to the left of the altar, who have lived good lives and have ledgers good enough to gain them admittance to heaven are a pretty calm group; they look self-satisfied, even look kind of happy, which I guess is how you would look if you knew that the afterlife was going to be pretty cool.

The dead people to the right of the alter are holding ledgers that do not add up to a pleasant ever-after.  Whilst the good ledger folk are orderly, in addition to looking pleased with themselves, the icky ledger people are in disarray, falling down, arms raised protectively (like that is going to be helpful at this point) and seem to be wailing and asking for a do-over.

The dead people below each of those sections are way beyond ledgers.  They are being tormented by demons and all manner of vile creatures.  They are bound with chains of their own crafting.  They are being sucked down in disgusting mire.  There are flames and unfathomable things being forced down their throats.  They are beyond ledgers.

You know, except for the ledger-less dead people, let us leave them to their fate and hope that it will not be ours, life is like that.  It is not like the ledger/scorecard/balance sheet that my ex had in his head.  That document, well, I would not be surprised if he had committed all of my failures to impress or please him in a paper, ink and glue form.  I never thought to look for such a thing when he was ordered out of the house and I was able to get back there, clear the place out and ready it for sale.

If it existed in corporeal form, I am certain that it was one of the things he took first, along with our wedding album; the album confuses me to this moment.  Why he would want that miserable piece of documentation of the beginning of the end is beyond my understanding.

But, back to life.  I think that nearly everyone holds such a list in their minds. 

You know, I made this really cool and amazing sacrifice to help my sister and she has yet to properly repay me.  Or, I bought him exactly what he wanted for his birthday and he forgot whatever it is he forgot.

Whether we believe it to be so, or not, we all do this.  There is a woman in one of my groups who does things for other people and then wants, most likely needs for some reason, for that person to thank her.  A lot.  I have a friend, one I nearly left behind in that other life, who has high and strict expectations for the rest of us.  She send birthday cards to everyone she knows, and give her, now grown, daughters a birthday week celebration and expects that it will result in some extra gifts for her at Christmas and her birthday. 

I have no problem with any of that.  As long as I can avoid becoming indebted  to anyone I am fine.  If the gift things work for anyone, great.  If I agree to exchange resources with someone, even more great.  If I do something of make a gift of service or an actual object to someone, there are no strings attached...even if you decide there are.  Strings, that is.

I do not ever lend anything to anyone.  If I am requested to lend money or some random thing to someone, I release it just as I would a gift.  If it is repaid or returned in good shape, super-duper.  An example is that at the beginning of summer I bought a cool, expanding hose for my garden space, and when the person who lives in the back flat saw it, I told her that she could use it for her garden at the back of the house.  She broke it, told me that she did and later bought a hose for herself to use.  I could not afford another hose, so I used an empty cat litter container to water my stuff.  She told me that she watered my plants once, and I thought that was nice and neighborly. 

Would I like my hose replaced?  Sure.  But, that is not going to happen.  I think that she must be used to more communal living, where everyone uses what everyone else has.  When her garbage can gets full, she has used mine.  When she spray painted some shelves (I think they were shelves) and the over-spray landed all over my car, she was fine with that, because that is what happens when you spray paint outdoors.  Do I hold any sad or bad feelings about any of this.  Well, yes, I kind of do, but I am keeping it out of my ledger.

Besides, it is impossible to keep comparisons and expectations out of our interactions with other people.  We want a pleasant and service-focal experience at the market. 

We want our insurance companies to give us exceptional benefits for our payments.  We want the laundromat to be working perfectly so that we can get in and out of there without any complications or delays.  We want other drivers on the road, other riders on the bus, other walkers on the street to hold to the standards of polite and supportive behavior.

We want our families and friends...maybe even our bosses and treat us with respect and love.  Yeah, even at work we want and crave love and acceptance and acknowledgment of our value.  We want our pets to love us unconditionally (since we have long given up on getting that from people) and to provide all of the comfort we need, when we need it.

We want everyone to love us for ourselves, and return the same love we give to them, and, most especially, cut us a whole load of slack when we cannot manage more than just being the marvelously flawed human beings that we are.

We want forgiveness for every little thing that does not go right.  And, we want amnesia to follow that forgiving.  We want it all, and in a perfect world, whatever and wherever that might be, and we want it now and for always.  We want freedom from the worry of disappointing other people and ourselves.  We want do-overs, just like the wretched dead people in that fresco.

And, I do have a ledger for myself.  Whilst I would love to blame it on a lifetime of trying to meet my ex's standards for my performance, I suspect that I would have it with or without his influence.  I am good at logging my failures and shortcomings and less ardent in regards to anything I do that is in my best interest.  Interesting.  I am a fine person, finely wrought, although a little too tightly wound.

Perhaps this keeping records is hard-wired into the whole business of being human.  I might just have to take an informal survey about internal ledgers.  I have women in my support groups and my clients, and I think that it could be a wonderful topic for one support group in particular.  The one for domestic abuse, the one where every woman there has found herself on the short end of the ledgers of other people, especially those people we love.

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