January 11, 2009

Bailing the boat

Yesterday got off to a rough start. Ralf is away on a business trip and I miss him. The kids are skiing with their grandparents and I miss them. There were no distractions. I could clean, shop, sew, cook, organize, get ready for taxes, stalk friends on Facebook, meditate, sleep, read something good, read my next book club book, surf the Internet, get ahead on some design work, have another cup of coffee, eat chocolate, book my February flight to the US, do laundry, sort stuff in the attic, go to the gym. . . but I didn’t feel like doing any of these things.

Things are broken. They always break (chaos is the second law of thermodynamics, after all) but Ralf usually fixes them. The front panel on my underwear drawer is hanging off and probably needs to be glued back on with Superglue, which Ralf hides from me. The brand new DVD player ate my dvd so I couldn’t watch Eureka last night – it’s a high-tech DVD recorder that apparently sulks if you turn if off. And the new top-of-the-line heating unit we installed in our attic went completely insane three times last night and shook the whole house with loud hammering noises.

I worry sometimes that I could never live alone. I can cook, clean, shop, blog, read, write, pay bills, sort food by order of expiration, give my kids space to find (some of) their own answers, speak to large audiences comfortably and design personal management software. These are my humble life skills so naturally I wonder how long it would take for my entire house to fall down around me if I lived alone. I would definitely need a lot of friends with husbands to take up the slack.

OK, that came out really wrong but you know what I mean. I’m talking about stuff like installing DSL, right?

My dearth of useful skills isn’t the only thing that worries me. The environment worries me. I’m a mom so I force myself to keep track of what Al Gore is doing, sign a petition or write to my congressperson when he requests it and have even made some key lifestyle changes. I do my little bit but it’s not enough. On the other hand, I’ve been worried about the environment for long so long that I’m pretty used to it, kind of like the constant, low-grade fear in my tummy I had when I was 8 and thought the Russians would nuke us.

They still might but no one worries about it any more because we have bigger problems. How scary is that?

On a positive note, Obama gets it but he’s chosen to fight with subsidies rather than penalties and this may not be effective enough. It may even drive up the price of clean technologies for the rest of the world. But what can he do? Penalize companies for poor planning and irresponsible world citizenship that are already laying more than half a million people off?

That’s the next thing bringing me down lately, the news that US unemployment is over 7% (which is almost 1 in 10 people). This will impact other countries as well and right now parents just like me are wondering if they can keep their houses and feed their kids. As a parent I can’t imagine too many more things more frightening than that.

Except... being in the Middle East, that’s probably worse. I've been thinking that the 10 Commandments aren’t a bad start but we clearly need a few more, like:

Thou shalt not assume that everyone who doesn’t like you or criticizes your actions also hates your entire race.

I would also recommend:

Thou shalt not hide weapons or bad guys in hospitals, schools or residential areas.

Bastards. But then, I suppose this is why I’m not a military strategist.

And finally:

Thou shalt not kill in the name of religion.

You might think ‘Thou Shalt not Kill’ would automatically cover this one but religious killers always seem to assume there’s some special dispensation for killing in the name of religion so I would add this, at least as a footnote. Notice they took this approach with coveting, i.e., you shouldn’t covet anything belonging to your neighbor AND you shouldn’t covet your neighbor’s wife, but I guess sleeping with your neighbor’s wife is a worse sin than killing someone so they wanted to make it idiot proof.

ANYway, as I was saying before I took a short detour to improve the 10 Commandments (you’re welcome, by the way), yesterday all this stuff was bubbling up and bringing me down. So, instead of working or cleaning my house, I took action and spent a half hour meditating.

Seriously. We’ve all seen what can happen when we're in a good mood and smile at everyone we meet. Almost magically, people are friendly (except, of course, in Germany) and no problem is insurmountable. Well, the reverse is also true. Negative emotions like fear, sadness, anger are contagious and lately it feels like there’s too much of them around and the world is out of balance. It’s like we’ve been living on credit for too long and the bill just arrived, only it’s not a bill any more, it’s a delinquent notice.
Meditation can help bring negative emotions back into perspective.

So that's what I did and I felt better afterwards, like I had finally got around to bailing a very leaky boat, and got dressed to hit the gym and go shopping. And while I was doing these things I saw two other things that cheered me up no end.

In my next post I will write about these happy things.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, alot to take in... I like to meditate too. I am worried that the world will end when the Mayans predicted (in 2012) so I am trying to stay optimistic and see the good in stuff, although I am naturally a pessimist so it's not working.


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