Walk

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After a biweekly morning doctor’s appointment, and a fruitless search for some supplies I need for an upcoming exhibit, I took a nice walk to the bus stop. I forgot to put on my headphones, and just listened to the sounds around me, let the wind roughly play with my now growing hair (after having it short for some years I’m allowing it to get longer, sort of a big deal), and just let my mind be empty – walking for walking’s sake. I realized that I had not done this for myself in a very long time. It’s rare that I have the time to do it. When I am out of the house, I am going somewhere. When I am in the house, I am working. When I am at work, I am working. Even on a day off, it is difficult to do something without feeling that time is short, and I have some duty in front of me that must be accomplished soon.

This walk reminded me of when I was younger, my future husband and I were not yet married though we saw each other regularly, and I was living at school and then at home with my family. It was easy to go into the city (NYC) and walk about, not needing to be anywhere till I wanted to be, actually having some time to experience life with leisure, to do with my time as I pleased. What a rare thing that is for me now, after many years! So to experience this again today, just taking a long walk to the bus stop, knowing that I could, that I didn’t have to be home at any particular time soon – oh what a pleasant surprise, what a pleasant memory. I had forgotten what that was like, not to have any duties and responsibilities for a few hours, just to be a single person anonymously walking the street, listening, seeing, with a sense of peace and independence, my own time for me.

There are so many people who want to give advice, people you know and don’t know. You should do this, you should do that, most studies say, blah blah blah. More pressure. I grew up with enough “shoulds.” I tolerate a lot of “shoulds” to be able to shoulder my responsibilities as a wife, a mother, a worker, a humane member of society, even pressure I put on myself to create and create because I’m so aware, with my acquired, chronic, never to be cured illness that life is short. I cannot shoulder much more than this or I will break. But I do my best with what I do carry, even when I am so depleted that I wonder how I will be able to keep going forward.

It’s hard to explain this to people. Most people either don’t or won’t understand what on earth you are talking about. I don’t blame them, but I do expect respect from them as one human to another, because they don’t live in my body. I do what I have to do, and what’s left over is what I work with to nourish myself. The majority of my time these years is claimed. By what I’ve had given to me, and also by what I’ve accepted into my life. To reneg on that is not something that it’s in my nature to do – unless my hand is forced, I’m backed into a corner, and what’s in front of me is something that threatens who I am and what I believe in, whether in a mortal spiritual, emotional, or physical way. If I sense that, in lieu of violence I will vanish.

For a time during this walk too, I forgot the recurring experience, being a woman and being introverted, and made much worse since I got sick more than 5 years ago, of people making decisions for me without my knowledge or consent. Decisions that directly affect me. This is something I came head to head with this past summer, all in one horrific week. I realized, with extremely painful acuity,  that once again, I had really become completely invisible. This happens to me from time to time in my life. Then I have to be a warrior without mercy, because by the time the realization comes, my signals, however frank, have been ignored, pushed aside, not taken seriously. Sort of the way that people who are going to suicide give clues for a long time before they carry through. No one really wants to know, no one wants to take you seriously, they just want to do what they want to do and they are really confident that you’ll be just fine. In other words, when it counts that you be heard, they just aren’t there. Is this human? I guess so. You will forgive, but you will never forget.

Each time this happens to me in my life I become even more inwardly turned. I seem to always find the situation where I need to give more than a reasonable amount of chances, but really, that little voice about cutting your losses is always there.

Maybe if I made a regular habit of clearing my head, like today, feeling a part of the world but independent of it too, I might get better at taking my own little voice more seriously, giving it respect, giving myself more respect – really.

Every Thursday

6 thoughts on “Walk

  1. Ah, that “You should…” thing that one gets from people annoys me to no end. I don’t understand where that comes from, but I avoid people who say that like the plague. It implies that they know me so well that they know what is good for me or what I would like. I’ve tried to analyze why people do this, but to no avail. Perhaps people like this say this to, in a way, say to themselves that they understand the people around them and are safe because of this. But I don’t really know why. It’s just extremely annoying.

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    1. I don’t know. I think it’s just egoism. There’s no humility in forcing your thinking on others. That’s a parent’s privilege unfortunately, because kids are powerless. The only other situation where that replicates is when you are in a job and need the money, so yeah, you jump when told to jump and act when a “should” comes your way, if it looks like there will be conflict if you don’t. However, in relationships outside of that, where the person has no real power over you whatsoever other than to make you feel sad, screw that. I won’t be beholden to anyone in that way. They have no right to push what they believe is good for you nor make any decisions for you for what ultimately is for their benefit, not yours. If you add that you’re not supposed to know about it, so much the worse. LAME. In the end it’s all about their lording their power over YOU. I won’t tolerate it.

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    2. Even in my job I resist this. Managers are, for the most part, idiots. If I listened to their directions I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. Of course that may be the reason why I don’t get promoted. But at least I can live with myself. Fair exchange.

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    3. Men are different about power, I think. They take it forgranted, and to live in that quality, power, is very much a part of a man’s world. And women, even in this day and age, are taught to accept, to assert their power in oblique ways – yes, in reality it is still like this, only subtly so. So while I’m not a Hillary Clinton – not so overtly powerful and combative – I still find, as a human being, that having my voice suppressed and ignored to be unacceptable. Every person deserves the right to be heard, and no one should have decisions made for them unless they are truly incapable of making them for themselves. It is this that I detest. This kind of thing, on top of all the other things one takes on voluntarily in life, or without choice – this is just unacceptable.

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    4. I could extend this discussion further in a broader, societal sense, but I won’t, although it certainly is amplified to those circles. My experience this past summer that I refer to, and those that are related that happened in the past, have certainly been with members of the opposite sex. One can arrive at an understanding that minimizes these episodes of invisibility, this lack of being treated as human and equal in spirit, and therefore make it possible to be aware of the abuse that could happen based on a sense of entitled power – but it doesn’t happen without combat. I guess what I am saying in this post is that some situations are worthy of the energy required, particularly in my state of depleted physical energy, because they are extremely necessary to stability in my life. And others, having lived life for 48 years now, I am extremely unlikely to deem as worth that energy. In other words, I don’t feel like pounding the disparity in treatment into the heads of people who, by keenly observing their actions over time, and by remembering what they have told me about themselves, are not going to change direction on my behalf. And honestly, these days this relates to any kind of relationship with any person. I just haven’t the energy to explain the problem – either you understand, or you don’t – and that is based on your nature, ultimately – what survives in you after all the “shoulds” that fell on you over the years.

      In the past, I had a lot more belief in effective communication, and in my ability to have an affect. Now, a very different perspective. It helps, at any rate, to observe another’s behavior for a long time – you can get entangled in ugliness anyway, but you’ve had your eyes open since the beginning, and you know how you’re going to have to handle it to eliminate your anguish.

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