Idealism & Optimism

Does Idealism really equate optimism?  I can see how one might think so, but I’m guessing it doesn’t.  I’m thinking that one might be the result of the other though, in my case anyway.  Let me explain.  Although I do believe the human race as a whole is doomed, if not physically, then ethically, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some extraordinary human specimens who have conceived exceptionally beautiful and/or brilliant things.  And being conscious of just how flawed human nature is and of how many despicable and/or mediocre many specimens there are, only makes me want to reach out for the best among people.  I seek out (in my mind if not in reality) those people that inspire me.  They are not going to save us but they provide us with awe and wonder and many continue to do so long after they are dead through what they leave behind.  Having few people I admire in my direct environment, they have become my “friends” in an alternate reality.  I think of them everyday, dream of them, long for them.  But even in this alternate reality, I know they could never be my friends because I have nothing to offer them.  I am not special as they are.  I am ordinary.  I am a suburban housewife who can’t land or keep a dead end job, let alone a decent one.  I can’t even do that which I have chosen to do adequately (be a good wife and mother).  And  I can’t even interest my own family, actual or potential friends, let alone a magnificent human being.   I think that this way of thinking is perhaps what made me rate high on idealism on the Myers Briggs Personality Assessment quiz.

 

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Work and Passion

Yesterday Maggie said that she would never want a job that involved one of her passions.  I was floored because my whole life, all craved for a job that would involve one of my passions.  I couldn’t figure out why she would say something like that. It made no sense at all.  Seeing how stunned I was, Maggie explained that she would never want something that she loves to become drudgery and she fears that if specific tasks, a schedule and a deadline were imposed on her,  that would contaminate her love for whatever it is she was passionate about.  She wants to work at something that she enjoys but nothing that she is truly passionate about.  She wants to reserve her favorite activities for down time, when there are not expectations or pressures to perform at it.

This is a real opener for me and it came out of the mouth my my youngest daughter. I never looked at it this way.  I did come to a point where I decided I would settle for work I wasn’t passionate about but only because I saw no other way of earning a living.  It was devastating for me to come to that decision.   Is this a way of thinking that could serve me in the future?  I guess the answer to that would be “Yes and No”.

Yes, I can definitely see myself enjoying the things that I am passionate about at home because I already do this.  What I can’t picture myself doing is working at anything that is even tolerable.  I simple do not have the skill or experience to do anything even minimally interesting and at 53, it’s probably too late to get those skills.  But there is more.

The reason why I wanted to be paid for doing something I am passionate about was for validation.  It would be a way of assuring myself that I am good at it.  I guess Maggie has more confidence then I do.  She is confident about her writing and her painting in a way that I could never be about my own passions (writing, documentary film, fashion,  the social sciences, venomous animals ..etc).   And yet, we are both amateurs.   I suppose for Maggie, it is enough to have a circle of friends who appreciate what she does or maybe it’s good enough for her to be aware of her own skills and talents.  It was never enough for me.  Should it be?

Eve

One day my foot lost its middle toe

The toe hurt so bad, it had to go
I thought at last I could move on
despite limping to and from
I thought I could but it isn’t so
The pain is in now in my phantom toe

Lonely … to me

It means nobody cares to know me

They only care about what I can provide
And I can’t provide much aside from emotional support
which apparently isn’t worth much
Nobody does really know me which is weird when you think about it
Half a century on this earth and I am only defined by what I don’t do

Every Morning


Every morning

it’s the same dilemma
Do I work on bettering my life
or do I escape before awareness sweeps in
that my life is deeply unsatisfying.
Today I picked the latter.
(It’s sort of like picking the twinkie for breakfast instead of granola)
Maggie left the computer open
with an episode of house playing.
I watched an episode about a genius
who purposefully drugged himself
to reduce the chasm in intellect between him and his wife
Now I am in no way comparing myself to a genius
but I am comparing myself to someone with an appetite
that can’t be fulfilled by simple pleasures.
And like this fellow, it makes me feel very lonely.
He first tried to jump off a bridge
And when that didn’t work
he drugged himself.
What are MY options?

Funny though because in some ways
I want what he wanted to leave behind
I want to be an expert at something.
Not so smart that I couldn’t communicate with anybody
Just smart enough that I could socialize and work with smart people.
I am afraid however, that this would only increase my contempt
for shallow people.
I can barely tolerate my mother as it is.
And yet I love her.

When this man from House was weaned off 
he didn’t love his wife anymore.
She became an irritation.
My mother, as loving as she is
is a huge source of irritation for me
because she is exactly what I feared to be.
And though I will never be her in my head.
My life is not turning out to be much different from hers.

Back to the main topic.
Is it best to continue perusing an unlikely goal
or is best to find a way to numb my appetite?

Giving

For as long as I can remember
I have enriched my life by sampling the contributions of others
I did so through school and for leisure
but always with an educational, professional
or inspirational goal in mind.
I always expected that the day would come
when I too would be sharing what I know with others.
It doesn’t seem right that anyone should be
a giver only or a taker only
It’s the sharing that makes life interesting.
I have many regrets
but this one weighs particularly heavily on me today
because it is clearer than ever,
that I will never get to give.
Sure, there are always things one can give
especially when you have a family that depends on you
but I am talking about giving what you want to give
and not what you are expected to give.
I am talking about giving with joy and passion
and not just out of duty.
That’s the kind of giving I don’t get to give
and it saddens me deeply.

Three Activities

A description of my life can be broken down into 3 activities

1. Activities aimed at caring for my house and family
2. Activities that aimed keeping me entertained
3. Activities aimed at changing my life

1. Activities aimed at caring for my house and family

I spend between 1 and 2 hours on these activities which is clearly not enough
but better than it used to be.
I clean my kitchen. I do dishes, laundry, floors.
I also clean my bathroom
but I do very little overall maintenance of my house outside of those things.
For many years not, I also got up in the morning to prepare the kids for school.
I’m getting a little break from that right now.
I don’t cook but I do make breakfast for Yanni
and help with the big brunches on the weekends.
I have just about no social life.
I see a friend a handful of time in one year
but I do have pen friends I write to regularly.
My husband and I rarely go out together.
We do so mainly to celebrate anniversaries or at Christmas.

2. Activities that aimed keeping me entertained

This takes the form of reading, watching documentary films and writing.
Most of what I read about or watch is non fiction
much of it is educational.
I’m interested in history, anthropology, biology ,medicine, law, crime and of course venom.
I don’t have any crafty sort of hobbies.
I don’t sew, knit, paint or anything like that.
I don’t participate in any sports.
Walking the dog in warm weather is the only exercise I get.
But entertaining myself is what I spend the most time on.
Sounds like I’m lucky, right?
Not really because it feels more and more pointless.

3. Activities aimed at changing my life

There are two things I work on in respect to changing my life.
One of them has to do with finding work and the other has to do with finding friends.

Finding work has been a major preoccupation for most of my life.
Sometimes my job search is realistic, sometimes it isn’t
Most of the jobs that interest me are jobs I am not qualified for
and that search unleashes a lot of anger towards myself
for having given up on my studies too soon.
The jobs I am qualified for , I have zero interest in
and being qualified for them doesn’t mean I am able to perform them.
I suck at non specialized work
because of my ADD and because of my emotional problem.
Also because I hate them.
That never helps.
Oh and finding a job is complicated by the fact that I worry about leaving my dog at home
and I feel terribly guilty about it.
Which is way I can’t wait for my husband to retire.
I don’t mind leaving the dog with my husband because the dog loves my husband
and my husband takes good care of him.

Finding friends is an on again , off again obsession
complicated by the fact that the people I most want to be friends with
have no interest in me or need for me.
And the people who in that past have manifested in interest in me
are more often then not people I have no interest in.
I also tend to attract domineering types which is not good for me.
I have tried joining groups and so far , that has not worked for me
for the same reasons stated above.
Another factor complicates my efforts to get a social life.
I can’t afford to go out and I am not mobile.
I can’t afford to spend $30 on a lunch date plus $20 on transportation
just so I can go hang out with a girl friend.
I just can’t spare it.
Oh and , my reluctance to leave the do alone also affects my efforts to have a social life.
I can only go out when my husband is home.
If at least , I could have some sort of meaningful interaction with my family members, that would help. But it isn’t the case.

Every day , I have to make decisions i
n terms of how time I will devote to each one of these activities.
The temptation of course, is to spend all day entertaining myself
and escaping my pain and frustrated needs that way.
But I start with a sprint to clean my house.
My next move is more ambiguous.
As time goes by,
I realize that if I am to have any chance at all
of making real changes in my life
I have to devote as much time as possible to my job search.
But more often then not, my impulse is to escape.
That’s because I don’t really believe that I have a shot at it.
And I am afraid to entertain hope.

There was a patient on Grey’s Anatomy
who said that the worst enemy of a dying person is not death,
it’s hope.
It really hit a chord with me.
Hope can be dangerous.
The second I dare to hope that I can have a better life
a more fulfilling life, a more meaningful life
I am setting myself up for a huge disappointment
which in terms leads to deep depression.
Yet, I can’t give up completely.
I just can’t….
So once in a while ,
I kick myself in the *** so hard
I can almost taste my toes.
And I go through the moves,
send the job application,
follow up on another,
meet with an employment counselled
etc etc
all the while preparing for the next fall into the abyss

It’s the same with my need to develop a social life.
Once in a while, manage to muster the courage
to contact someone in the hopes that it will lead to something.
But that fall is probably even scarier
because I am being rejected based on who I am
-or rather, who I am not-
rather than being rejected for a lack of specific work related skills.

Solutions

The Dailai Lama is quoted as saying

“If your problem has no solution, there is no use worrying about it.
If your problem has a solution, there is no use worrying about it”.

So clever. But sometimes there is a solution that is not completely impossible but which lies so far outside your reach, that you torture yourself trying to get at it. Like a carrot dangling just a millimeter away from where your fingers can reach. And you think that maybe if you contort yourself enough, you might reach it. That’s when “worrying” might have a purpose, although it’s probably not the right term. It’s more of a puzzling / mental straining kind of thing. That is how I live. And that is where I live. In that little space between near remote possibility and near impossibility.

For example, how to you go from being a molecular biologist working with venomous animals in a University at the end of planet to something more realistic for a 51 year old Canadian mother of 5 with a mild case of agoraphobia? There lies the challenge.
Finding that Plan B (or C or D)

Not Quite Good Enough Parent

I felt like I had made humongous strides of maturity in the past decade.
Despite my challenges, I did think of myself as wiser.
I even credit myself for overcoming many of the symptoms of my personality disorder
But ever since Eve , my middle daughter came back to live with us
I feel I have regressed to a more emotional infantile place.
Her criticism and hostility bring me to tears
and make me feel like I don’t want to live anymore.
I know it’s crazy.
She’s just a selfish teen and I have four other children
but she has exploited me extensively over the past year.
Not only has she not apologized but she torments me continuously
regarding my mothering skills
I will be honest
I will never get the mother of the year award.
I don’t cook or bake, I don’t sew or knit, I barely clean and tidy up
I have little to give them in terms of material goods
(though they never lacked anything important)
I don’t carpool because I don’t drive.
I am terrible at discipline
But I have always been emotionally supportive
and accessible to my kids.
I suppose you could say I have been their best friend
and not their mother.
But isn’t worth something in the balance?

We are not going to change our kids
We need to accept them as they are
But why is it so hard for them to accept US as WE are?
Why is it so difficult for them to focus on the nice things we do for them
or the aspects of our personalities that they enjoy
rather than always seek the negative and condemn us for it?
Eve even said that the few things I did for her that were nice didn’t mater,
they were not important.
Yet everything she didn’t get from me is of ultimate important.
Meanwhile, I have been treating her the exact opposite way.
I have accepted her flaws, even downplayed them
and I have celebrated anything positive she did
no matter how small.

I wonder also why it is
that the minute I blunder
no matter how small the blunder
and no matter how rare,
it becomes the only thing that matters
It doesn’t matter that I did a million good things
over the 17 years that I have been her mom.
Everything I did for her is erased.
All that remains is the that screw up.
The one thing I said “no” to.
The one comment that could have been more sensitive.
It’s like what they say about Hollywood
that you are only as good as the last thing you did.