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3:38 p.m. - 2011-02-15
Scrubbing Thoughts.

As always the answer is 'all of the above', perhaps 'a mix of causes and results' is a better way to put it, but I was inside just now scrubbing down my crappy stove (oy, the new one can't come soon enough! The dang broiler door fell off again) and got to thinking about all the stuff I don't fret about anymore. I wondered whether it was because I am feeling secure and happy because I am finally loved properly or whether it was a functionality of age. For example- despite the new glasses my vision isn't what it used to be so is that why I don't get freaky about the occasional stray eyebrow hairs? Can't see them unless the light is VERY good, I'm old and my eyes are fuzzy. Or is it because I'm in a committed relationship and secure in my knowledge that Mick honestly doesn't care what the hell my eyebrows look like? Or is it that age has given me the perspective to understand nobody's looking that close at me anyhow and even if they were I don't care what some stranger thinks about my eyebrows? I have a fricken life, you know? So the answer is: D- all of the above.

I thought about how free I am when I make art. It only has to please me. The panel of judges who snarked at me with every brush stroke and swirl on the palette is long gone.

It's so seldom these days I take something 'the wrong way'. I don't parse and nitpick what my friends and family say to me anymore looking for hidden subtexts and assuming they are finding fault with me. It's so easy to go with the idea that if they offer a suggestion or a comment it's from a place of kindness, encouragement and love. Even the random crappy stuff that comes my way rarely stings like it used to. I can't take it personally, dishing shit is always about the disher, not the dish-ee.

Some advice on this subject I'd given to Mick has actually sunk in with me too, to wit- everyone is the star of their own movie. Every single person is center stage in their own life and all the extras and bit players around them are just that- extras. No one thinks the other guy is a bigger deal than they are to themselves.

Huh? What, LA? I'm a lowly worm and my (boss, husband, next-door neighbor, son, daughter, doctor, check-out clerk) always gets my attention and automatic position of power before I do for myself!

I get it. Been there. No longer doing that. I'll explain what I mean about being center stage. Take Mick for example.

It used to be that Mick would spin and spin and gnaw and gnaw on other people's behavior toward/around him. He couldn't let it go! The hostile woman who gave him such grief in the driveway that morning would prey on him for days. It was never because she wanted to take her special snowflake self into the bus lane and not have to walk from visitor's parking! No, not to Mick. Ms Parking Lot Screamer, well, it used to be about Mick. He made that encounter all about him. She disrespected him because he was a security guy and not a badge holding, gun wielding cop anymore! She deliberately came down the driveway just to give him shit! All of her actions were totally in response to his position in the world. She had no agenda other than that which was solely and absolutely about him.

Uh, no.

In the true world that woman was in a hurry, she didn't want to walk in the cold, she was focused on dropping off her kid's backpack and pissed that she was going to be late because her goddamn kid (so like his careless father!) hadn't bothered to bring his backpack with him and just expected her to drop everything and come running (Hello? Wasn't her boss already cranky enough over her being late twice this month already and now she'd be late again! Thanks a lot, kid who's just like his selfish father!) and now this twerp security dude in the fricken school parking lot is telling her she has to take more time and be even later and she could NOT deal! So…KA-BOOM! In Mick's face. And my poor mannie couldn't see or understand anything except that he'd taken it in the teeth again, therefore it HAD to be about him and only him.


That backpack dropping off mom couldn't give two shits about Mick except that he was in her way. She didn't know him from Adam, she didn't give a flying fuck who he was or whether he had a badge, she hadn't come down there that morning to get her jollies giving Mick a hard time. She hadn't woken up that morning thinking, "Whoo hoo! Guess I'll drive over to the Uber Sports School's campus and dick over Mick O'Gaelic because he used to be a cop and now he's retired and can't arrest me anymore and I can make total sport of him and his 'lowly' lot in life!!!"

But this was how Mick used to see the world. It made him very unhappy. And such behavior was everywhere. It was in every single encounter as Mick went about his day.

People pulled out in front of Mick and made him stand on the brake pedal because they'd seen him (Mick O'Gaelic in the flesh!) coming and were dissing him and his choice of car! "Take that!, O'Gaelic! You with your pussified Volkswagen! I have a truck and am totally pulling out in front of you on purpose!!!! Nar! Nar! Nar!"

That the roads are full of selfish, inept, asshole drivers never occurred to my guy.

You see how it went for my dear Mick? He wasn't just the star of his own show, he was the star of everyone else's too.

Of course his case was extreme because the circumstances of his life had allowed that ego-driven "Me! Me! Me! It's ALL about Meeeeeeeeee!" mindset to grow unchecked. Oh yeah, he had been a police officer with all the privileges and abuse of and freedom from obeying the law that comes with the job. He'd never had kids, thus never had to put anyone else's welfare and happiness in front of his own. Walk an infant through several nights' worth of colic when you're on the ragged edge of exhaustion and hysteria and you learn real quick that other people, even 10lb ones with no teeth, can demand their own agendas come before yours. He's a white, middle-class, American male with a trophy-winning power lifting and body building physique, who by dint of how he looked didn't have to take shit off of anybody, and you have the perfect storm for an egocentric world view.

But over time spent with me and the constant gentle encouragement to open his eyes and take in the fact that everybody else is just as real to themselves as he was to himself, well, the message got through. And in teaching this concept to him (and to Wolf- adolescent, male, Aspie, thus especially difficult) came the learning of it for myself.

Not only do I no longer agonize over 'what they meant by that', I don't hassle myself over what I've said to others. I know I love my friends and only want the best for them and for them to be happy. So if someone chooses to twist what I say and make it into an insult or a slap I'm sad and unhappy, but only because I understand the sticks poked through the bars of the cage they are keeping themselves in.

As The Eagles so pithily said in 'Already Gone'

'Well I know it wasn't you who held me down.
Heaven knows it wasn't you who set me free.
So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains
And we never even know we have the key.'

Older, wiser, freer, and okay now, ~LA

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