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

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

meager

I always think, and say, that I have all the time in the world.  I kind of live by that notion, accepting that if something is important enough, that I really do have all the time I need.  You know, for what is important to me.  That is the litmus test for the things or projects or processes that I believe I need to have.  Sometimes, or once in a while or frequently, it does not matter how often I tell myself this story.

I guess that it is true, for the most part, because I will always find the time to do the stuff I love, be with the people I love and work at the stuff I love.  I feel that way about volunteering.  Oh, sure, I like to help and all that jazz, but volunteering, any kind of doing things for others or for campaigns or whatever it might be is pretty satisfying.  Were it not, no one would do any of it.  Sure, there will always be truly altruistic and self-sacrificing folk who have the kind of purity of spirit who will always rise to whatever need presents itself.  Big-hearted people who genuinely care about other people.  That sub-species of human who are genuinely human and humane and truly give a rat's fanny about more than just their own needs.

I am not sure where this is going, but suffice it to say that I am not one of those good people.  I do what I do because I love doing it.  That does not make me better than anyone, and it does make me more selfish than most because I am really invested in how it makes me feel to reach out and do stuff that is beyond my own needs.  Or, is it that?  What if my need is the thing that drives me?  I guess it does not make any difference.  As long as I am not hurting anyone or any whatever, then the reasons are irrelevant.

Time is increasingly on my mind.  The snow removal problem here reminds me that my physical resources are limited.  Whilst I feel well, healthy and all that, I am woefully out of good physical condition.  I am still fat.  I still do not engage in any regular exercise.  All that.  I am more bodily fit than I was before I moved here, to this flat with fourteen steps up to my door.  Yes, I count them.  It is a habit that developed when I began needing to climb that steep and narrow staircase.  Counting helped me to actually make it up, breathless and tired, but I did not have any real choice. 

Climb up and down the stairs or live in my car.  I have already done that in the past several years, so, no thank you, I do not wish to repeat that experience.  It did not kill me to live with those circumstances, but it is much less pleasant than you would think, especially in colder weather.  Not so great for my cat, either, but we did not have any choice for that, thankfully, brief period.

I think that most people who make it through challenging times are pleased...albeit often a little surprised...that they were able to do so.  There may even be a certain amount of smugness connected with surviving tough times, although I am thinking that most survivors would think of their survival as a point of pride and accomplishment, but the whole smug thing is in there as well.  I do not think it can be avoided.  You know, being human and all.

Unfortunately, time, actual time, is something over which I have no control.  I can decide how I will spend it, or as in my case, waste it, and that is not a gratuitous or sympathy inducing statement.  I do waste a significant amount of time.  Part of it is that I can do whatever I like, not do anything I do not want to do.  Some of it is due to inertia and depression, but those cannot be excuses because I do have a limited ability to affect those qualities.

Anyway, I have been thinking about how to inspire myself to get my saggy and aged ass out an doing more stuff.

Something I read on a blog that I follow made a quote by Albert Camus tickle my memory.  I had to Google for it, as it no longer lies complete in my memory.  Truth is that book/reading memory eludes me lately.  I just library borrowed and nearly completely read a book that I borrowed and read just a few months ago.  It was only vaguely familiar until the final few chapters.  That is how old I am sometimes.

And, that is the skimpy part of time, having all that I need.  The manifestation of the weak link in using what I have in the best way possible.  I am not doing that.  My sleeping is messed up and I am resisting medications that would force me into a regular schedule.  For good reasons, as those meds  certainly can work, but can mess you up in other ways.

But, back to Camus.  This is the quote that I had to find:
We have not overcome our condition, and yet we know it better. We know that we live in contradiction, but we also know that we must refuse this contradiction and do what is needed to reduce it. Our task as [humans] is to find the few principles that will calm the infinite anguish of free souls. We must mend what has been torn apart, make justice imaginable again in a world so obviously unjust, give happiness a meaning once more to peoples poisoned by the misery of the century. Naturally, it is a superhuman task. But superhuman is the term for tasks [we] take a long time to accomplish, that’s all.
Let us know our aims then, holding fast to the mind, even if force puts on a thoughtful or a comfortable face in order to seduce us. The first thing is not to despair. Let us not listen too much to those who proclaim that the world is at an end. Civilizations do not die so easily, and even if our world were to collapse, it would not have been the first. It is indeed true that we live in tragic times. But too many people confuse tragedy with despair. “Tragedy,” [D.H.] Lawrence said, “ought to be a great kick at misery.” This is a healthy and immediately applicable thought. There are many things today deserving such a kick.
 This is exactly, or nearly, as I am feeling and thinking right now.  I remembered, sketchily, only the first part, but discovered the second when I found the quote.

He was only twenty-seven years of age when he wrote that.  Crazy.  Groovy.  I am two and a half times that age and I cannot think of such things on my own.

I am not so concerned about the centuries or civilization as a whole, but hold this more personally.  It is about a life where, and at times, it is difficult to parse meaning from the jumble of just plain living.  All life is challenge.  Even the most calm and serene life is full of decisions one has to make.  How I am going to do this, in my life, can determine what my future, both near and long-term is going to be about.  Surviving is simply not enough.  It should be, but it is not.

I am not introspective enough to pull this together.  I become too caught in the thrall of the day, or the problem, or the time and space I am filling with nothing productive.  Except, for reading.  I am at a pivotal moment.  I could take classes, which very much appeals to me, and I am going to attend a few art things.  I even want to learn new ways to paint.  Maybe slump glass or work with mosaics.  And, I am struck by my need to read as much as I can. 

A while back, as I was getting my grandsons off to school, I made sure that we cleaned up after the bacchanal that those mornings often are, explaining that mom is a busy person and we need to clean up after ourselves because she is so busy.  My oldest grandson shared with me that he understood that I was not a busy as his mom was, and that she had told him that "grandma reads a lot and does not do much else."  At that time, many months ago, that was not true.  I was settling in here and trying to find things to do, people to meet, stuff like that.  It is true now.  Mostly.  Especially the reading part.  There is not enough time to read everything I need and want to know.  Well, that is primarily things I want to learn about, mostly science stuff.  So, I borrow a half-dozen books each week from the library and read what makes the most sense to me and return the rest with only a cursory flip through.

And, because I care about the person who writes the blog I follow, I am now adding Camus to that list of must-reads.  I no longer have the handful of his books that I have read; all my books were left behind in that other life.  But, I do have a great library that will find and deliver pretty much anything that I want, so Albert is on the near lineup.  Surely time enough in my all the time in the world for that.

5 comments:

  1. Hi J, finally got chance to catch up on your posts, I've been a bit of a slacker lately. One thing about reading lots of posts in one hit is that I really see just how much progress you are making. I've said it before and I'll say it again, you really should write a book, you have a real talent for writing you know. Speak soon xxx

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    1. I like the idea of a book, but I would really hate to rile up the sleeping dogs, you know? And, I am already too old to wait for those folk to no longer be among us. Kind of like the story about the old couple who went to arrange for a divorce. The attorney asked them why, if they were so unhappy, they had waited so long to end their marriage and they replied that they were waiting for their kids to die. You know. Like that. :)

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    2. Write under a Pen name, problem solved ;)

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  2. J, we are missing you on the DTE forum. That is funny what your daughter said about you just reading and not doing much else. Little did she know eh? I hope you find some way to exercise but it must be so hard in that cold weather as you wouldn't be able to go for a walk for exercise, would you? I try to move as much as I can as I get so stiff if I sit for too long. The joys of getting older.

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    1. I miss all of you, too, but it was time for me to leave.

      As for my daughter, well, we all pretty much know our own lives, and even though we are close to other people, we often do not have the opportunity to truly know that they are all about. Besides, she is being sensitive about not asking questions about that other life and I have no plans to ever, ever, ever share any of it with her. It, very simply and lovingly, is not right for children to have that kind of information about their parents. And, I keep hoping that some miracle will happen and she will have some kind of loving relationship with her father before it is too late.

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