20 September 2012


There's something about giving up the ghost, about letting go of superstition, about letting yourself unplug from the heavy pull of universal push and try, just try, to let the energies that abound know you know that what will happen will happen no matter how much you try to curate, cultivate, coerce the standings. There's something simply terrifying in the attempt, something as scary as it is necessary and as urgent as it is daunting.

Yesterday, my grandmother told me something I've always known about her - that she would rather pretend that nothing is wrong and just hope whatever it isn't goes away. For most of my life, my reading on this attitude focused on the inherent denial, the refusal to accept reality. But after reprimanding her and demanding she get over it and start facing the facts, little lady, I realized this duck and cover mechanism seems to stem more from superstition than just simple general delusion. If you admit to yourself, and thus the universe (or god, if you must), that something is wrong - then it has to be, right? And if you just ignore it and pretend like there's no red-eyed furball staring at you from your messy closet, then there simply must not be. Right?

Wrong, I guess, although there is something to say for revering the nag of the something we all feel but is intrinsically undefined. My approach to superstition is often the opposite of Lois'. I figure, the more I worry about it, the more declarative energy I put out there - very clearly letting the imps know I am not interested, thank you very much but no thank you, can't you see just thinking about this is making me sweat, just imagining the possibility is making my stomach churn, my armpits are starting to get itchy, for pete's sake please, let me be - the less likely that nasty unwanted thing is to take place. I practice this method of superstition in the way I take my probiotic in the morning and hope it helps my stomach the next day - as a preventative measure. It helps, although one must wonder how necessary that magic pill would be if I could just let go of the incessant defense and pretend that whatever goes on it that little hamster-ball brain of mine doesn't affect the universal grip on my existence what-so-ever.

I'm thinking about all of this as I ride a greyhound down the pike, to route 85, to Union Station, which is located approximately .5 miles from Saint Francis Hospital, where my Grammy, Lois Reiner, 82, is spending day three and is currently awaiting a visit to the O.R. This is a huge inconvenience for her, as she is a tremendously busy woman - often while hearing the recap of her days, I find myself laying down on the sidewalk while subconsciously listing all the ways I spend my time in hopes of calming myself off the 'I am a complete sedentary loser' precipice. My grammy is tremendous and is the epitome of style - well dressed, perfectly accentuated, alluring in her expectations, fantastically witty, a woman who clearly has seen the world and keeps pieces of it in her pocket just for fun. But this is no eulogy - she will be fine, because honestly, what's a pacemaker or a couple of defribulators to a Ahskenazi like Lois? Bupkis, nothing, nothing, just a bother, an inconvenience, and certainly nothing to travel for, so really don't worry, there's nothing you can do, it's boring, we're fine. Well, Grams, I'm not quite fine, and you're just going to have to deal with it.

Sometimes I feel like if I let my guard down for even one minute, if I let up on the worry and forget about the potential for utter disaster and difficulty, I feel like what I've staved off for so long with my mental vampire stake will come for me with a force triple that which I expended in neurotic behavior. But then, sometimes, when the world reminds me how strong the will of a mind can be, how that which sustains us is so much more than mechanisms of the aortic valve and firing synapses, the worrying must cease. This is when the glittery, pulsating, Lisa Frank heart that I swear is just under my forehead skin opens up and starts transforming superstitious energies into love and compassion for suffering - and the rainbow of healing sometimes dually connects to my heart while crossing astral planes to get to the heart that matters.

Grammy is insistent we make no fuss over this little incident, but that didn't stop me from booking myself and my brother bus tickets late last night, and it certainly didn't bolster my legs as my chest flattened and the feeling of a swift swack to the back forced me to stop walking up the hill, figurative and literal, many times in the last few days. But her refusal to sit with the potential for severity has left me with more than a sad duty to do so myself - it has left me wondering how I might best carry out that very terrifying task. If her refusal to weigh reality is based in fear of the universal acceptance that couples with personal acceptance, how dare I dishonor that? If superstition has worked for her this long - and really, it's worked well - who am I to force a change of pretense?

My therapist is always reminding me of what she dubs Realities - the spaces we carve out for ourselves in which our subjective experience is the one that truly matters, and it's in this spectrum that I'm giving up the ghost. I want more than anything in this moment for my grandmother to live, for her to come out of this quibble with the universal quo unscathed, no different than she came in. But I have to let myself at least nibble the wafer or corporeal reality and accept that this may not be the case - and let myself acknowledge that the acknowledgment of mortality is not itself the unleashing of a grim. It can't be. I need to see my grandmother, and I need to see her now, and simply put, You, You Universe that may or may not give a shit about my presumed existential understandings and my highly neurotic attempts to control my own little world, You will just have to sit back and let me try this whole face-forward-and-stop-fretting-that-just-because-I-noticed-the-crack-on-the-wall-the-wall-is-going-to-crumble thing.

Let me sustain the illusion of being untethered from the fetters of fate, comfort me without any pressing omens or falling objects, would you? I've fed you fears for a lifetime, might you grant me the temporary relief of no imbued meaning, of no gentle serendipity. Let me walk on the plane in which I can be scared, be worried, cry, get on a bus, ride that bus, sit in the hospital, say I love you, wonder what the consequences may be, sit with the potential for this to be the last time, without taking any cues from me and cashing in a check I truly never meant to pen. Let me live in my fear without letting it fill your gills, please. Let me pretend like I don't know what it's like to worry about something only to have it happen - remind me that I don't make much of a difference when it comes to which way the wind decides to blow.

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