I work alone. I don’t flinch when somebody takes a swing at me, they don’t often connect. I live largely in my head, except when I am carrying out projects with elementary school kids. These projects are now a small forest of trees, but not bearing fruit yet. It will be a colorful orchard and many smiling guests will visit, happy faces smeared with fruit, or it will be a scary, dark, wild place people sometimes glimpse from low flying airplanes.
The point is, you can’t shake me. I know who I am, I know who you are. If I have vowed not to fight it doesn’t mean I am not still strong.
Here’s the thing, though. Maintaining a mild disposition is only one part of the equation, apparently. The other half is some scary math, 152/88 in the blood pressure monitor. The doctor turned pale as he got the reading, told me to take a few slow deep breaths. My blood pressure had never been nearly this high. The second reading was the same, my own readings since have been worse.
Being hard boiled, you know, a good thing and a bad thing. Now I have to view this as a wake-up call. Climbing 50 flights of steps a day, walking five miles a day, riding the bike, these things won’t help me unless I also lose ten pounds and start sleeping more. The old friend who wondered how I sleep with the ridiculous pressure on me to succeed in an unlikely undertaking was a prophet. I assured her I slept fine. But her concern was a wake-up call, how can I have restful sleep with no money coming in? So my sleep is more often than not sporadic.
“What the hell is this?” asks an irate client, already waiting four hours in my waiting room where the clients are stacked like cord wood, “your stinking diary?”
I have learned to not answer rhetorical questions from angry people who are likely imaginary.
I have a friend with a charming, brutal mother. He’s got kids of his own, is a highly responsible and well-respected man who performs heroic services for people in need. Because his mother is brutal as well as charming, her propensity to lash out with a hard slap cancels her charm completely for him, understandably. There’s nothing funny about her otherwise humorous throw away line after the slap, if your face is stinging and you’ve done nothing to earn the red hand mark on your face. His success in dealing with her is that he stews for a much shorter time after spending a few hours helping her out.
Like my mask of mildness, and my soaring blood pressure, my friend’s success is laudable but ultimately minor. Once I understood the atrocities my father had experienced as an infant, all through childhood, I was no longer confused as to why he was a monster. The only question is why he wasn’t somehow even worse. Not to say he wasn’t bad enough, thank you, but he could have vented in even more destructive ways. Not to say he wasn’t wonderfully destructive.
I imagine my friend sitting down with his mother and smoking a peace pipe. I imagine being there, filling the bowl, puffing once or twice to keep it lit. Picture this charming woman with the dark sense of cruelty-tinged humor, getting real laughs out of her son. Feel the relief of the child, to finally be able to see his mother as something more than a rash creature to be angry at.
“You seem a bit off your game today,” says one of my 43,000 followers.
True. It’s probably just the silent killer, stalking me, getting ready to turn a vise in my chest. I’d better eat another plum and take a long, slow walk.
Who are these people?