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Monday, May 7, 2012

Vicarious Pleasures/Chaos, Good For the Soul

Ah, my old friend, Monday - here we are again.  My life will be measured in Mondays.  So the party - Alan says everything I do is an effort to break the sound barrier. Overachiever is my middle name much of the time. I know that sounds boastful but be glad you're not me because it's also a burden. It would be a breakthrough for me to do a potluck, to be a person who does just enough to be credible. But no! I get a vision of perfection and then I make myself (and everyone around me) crazy as I execute it  - and most of the time I come darn close! The party was epic as usual - about fifty people of all ages and interests communed to great Mexican food, obscene desserts, drank gallons of lethal Sangria, listened to the fabulous Mark Burnell on piano with great singers taking turns at the mic, and most guests slipped away to my bedroom upstairs where Michael, the wandering-eye Reiki Russian masseur gave massages for $1/minute. He massaged straight, without a break, for hours and hours. Fun to see people emerge from their massage with dreamy looks on their faces!

Then a full day of cleanup yesterday and a dinner with Ryan and Josh at Carson's in the city - it was Ryan's birthday. Somehow I managed to find something I could eat there - grilled shrimp and vegetables. Amazing that I stayed on Weight Watchers through the weekend's festivities. Remember I said my birthday present to myself was willpower? Yup, I was all about enjoying other people enjoy and Saturday, the day of the party, my calories were cottage cheese and Sangria. Vicarious pleasure and calories.

So much on my mind and plate these days - so much to say and think about. Feedback from the party was interesting and thought provoking and got me to thinking about my own values. Martin, my tantric masseur was there in observer mode and when we talked later he expressed amazement at how much affection he witnessed. He saw older couples sneaking smiles at each other across the room, reaching out to each other for a caress, friends loving each other up, kindness and laughter everywhere he looked. He saw me exhausted but fully invested, pushing food on people, actually hand feeding them morsels ("try this!"), and he saw people enjoy being fed and nurtured. He was amazed by the talented singing and playing, creativity oozing. So, like an angel sent to earth to observe what could have been a hedonistic event, he witnessed humans at play and love. He was proud of me for having facilitated an event with such warmth.

Today I'm thinking about balance again - this time about the balance between the importance and comfort of daily routine and equally important up-heaving events like my party. A party like that can be destabilizing - time off work, expense, frantic effort to get the house ready with things shoved in drawers and closets, unearthing serving ware that only sees the light of day a few times a year, not to mention the loss of routine and the invasion of party foods into the house. An event like that is like playing with fire, loss of stability - everything upended and having to be put back together. It took hours yesterday to dig out from under the sticky, slimy mess. And yet, it's the opposite of stasis - complacency. Without some seismic events in our lives, we could find ourselves buried under the slow daily drift of dust and drudge - we could suffocate from routine. I remember going to my ex's mother's home in the Pacific Northwest and seeing her house for the first time, a house that hadn't changed one iota for over forty years. Steve whispered to me that even the magazines in the rack by the toilet were the ones he grew up with!  That house, that woman, would have benefited by some kind of upheaval, something to throw everything into chaos, something to shake off the dust and decay.

This morning, I struggled to find my land legs after the week of chaos and non-routine. I tried to bargain myself out of exercising. I flirted with the idea of a leftover sticky bun for breakfast. I lingered at home too long before getting to the office. I'm still finding plastic cups of Sangria in nooks and crannies. It's good though, shaking things up, testing the limits, seeing if the foundation holds. Marilyn French, wrote in the book, The Women's Room,
Later, she would remember these years, and realize with astonishment that she had, by fifteen, decided on most of the assumptions she would carry for the rest of her life: that people were essentially not evil, that perfection was death, that life was better than order and a little chaos good for the soul. Most important, this life was all. Unfortunately, she forgot these things, and had to remember them the hard way.
The challenge today is thinking about the demarcation point between healthy routine and novelty, between ritual and awakening.  Thinking it's a life well lived who manages the need for healthy routines with the equally important need to put those routines aside now and again.  If our underpinnings are strong we can actually benefit from a healthy earthquake from time to time! My annual spring birthday party is, for me, like tilling the soil of my soul. Gets the blood moving! Makes life worth living.


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