Friday, July 13, 2007

The Tao of Now

Anything could happen, and very likely will. And even if it won't, how do you know? Can you predict the future? Of course not. You're just some mortal schlub, trying to muddle through day-to-day existence in a way that (1) won't hurt anybody* and (2) will be enough fun to make life worth living. So just try not to be caught unawares.

This is what's called a Philosophy, unless it's just called a personality disorder; but quite frankly I've never been able to tell the difference.

Currently I'm sitting on the front steps awaiting the arrival of the least philosophical person I've ever known, my ex-mother-in-law. She's bringing my son back from an extended visit, and, God help us! she wants to Talk.

If I only spoke Croatian, and she only spoke Klingon, the communication gap couldn't be wider. There's no hope whatsoever of achieving anything by talking. I've been sitting here trying to figure out if she even begins to realize this; though I think she's probably not on a level to realize that any school of thought might exist more transcendent than that which produced the pop-psychology book her insanely controlling daughter-in-law gave her for Christmas, to help her be less controlling. After all, if she were, we might actually be able to Talk.

Not that I lay any particular claim to sanity, myself. It's just that I'm pretty sure that whatever else is wrong with me, I'm not very stupid.

And her real goal is not my son's well-being, though I'm sure she thinks it is. Her real goal is to have Influence, to be Important, to Matter. Well - yeah. I think that's most people's goal. We have friends we do genuinely care about, but those friendships ring hollow if we don't think our friends care about us. We fall in love, but do we really want our loved one to be happy? How much of love is pure vanity: we want to be indispensable to someone? We want someone not to be able to get by without us.

Viciously, once we start being a vast suck on the lives of the people we need the most, the only ways we can find to make ourselves more indispensable are the very ways that will make those people wish more that they could be rid of us. The buzzword is (or, ten years ago, was) "codependency." Make somebody need you so they won't be able to get away; then you can suck just as badly as you like. They'll resent the hell out of you, but they can't leave.

Perhaps if I were a stronger person I would have simply responded to ex-MIL's request for "the Talk," "No thanks, that's okay, thanks very much anyway." She'd have a conniption, but it's not the conniption I'm so frantic to avoid. It's the self-righteous belief she would carry away that I obviously Just Don't Care - not about her, which, well, why should I? - but about my son. Calling me a lousy mother probably hits me in my very weakest spot. Because I don't really think I am much good.

And with her, "the Talk" puts me in the position of defending something I personally find indefensible. But I can't get into that.

I need a better personality disorder. I'm on the porch with citronella torches glowing and cicadas chorusing and Prokofiev wafting out through the open screen door. The light is still bright, and the air is warm. She could show up in five minutes or never. Personally, I'd just like to stay right where I am at this exact moment. Philosophy isn't working for me. I'm not ready.

*Assuming you're not an asshole, of course.

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