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Monday, April 5, 2010

MIRROR ON THE WALL

true or false?




Another warm day, either 80 or near it. Forecast for tomorrow from Roanoke, which is usually right for here, is 90. My first thought when I heard the forecast was this is unusual. 30 years ago 90 was as hot as it would get in the summer. Then it went up to 100 the highest. 90 the 6th of April is odd. I was thinking the Repubs will be eating crow this summer when it gets up to 110 or more after such an extended cold winter. May have an extended hot summer. But that won't make any difference to the Repubs, who are half a century later still griping about seatbelts. Proof doesn't mean anything to a denier, someone in perpetual denial. They dig deeper in their denial like a groundhog. I grew up in a house of denial. I have some experience.



There was so much denial in the house that by the time I got out on my own, I was great at denial. I could deny away anything, especially those thoughts when we take an extended look at something stupid that was said or done, a really bad decision made, or just my own dorkness; it all washes away so cleanly with denial. Tuck it away in the file of we-don't-go-there and it's no problem. I'm really not the dopiest dork there ever was. In denial I can go on believing it even when my actions prove otherwise. I don't have to do anything to improve my character, just deny. It's easy, doesn't take any effort. As a kid, I remember seeing on tv cowboys and Indian shows, invariably the Indians said, White man speak with forked tongue. I knew that very well. Adults lie to children and think nothing of it. If kids were as stupid as adults take them for, they wouldn't be in school. School requires being able to learn. For me, the thing that made the parent/child relationship so weird was it was all fake, except for the anger. The anger was real.



Living by lies and denial was all I knew. It wasn't until up in my 30s I was able to see it well enough to realize it needs some examination in myself. Because I wasn't the only one. I lived in a world of people who created their self-images by denial and lying to themselves. I learned how to do it for myself, but it didn't work, thanks to my country grandmother from E Kentucky who taught me important ethical considerations that I never got from home, church or school. I went quite a ways in my own falseness with myself, believing I'm one thing when I'm another, seeing myself in a lying mirror. We think that because a mirror gives an exact representation that it tells the truth. Maybe it is, but when we see it and process it through mind with interpretation, it turns into a liar. Like in Snow White. Who's the fairest of them all? Snow White, not you, ugly witch. Until Snow White came along, ugly witch had been the fairest of them all in the mirror. Like we can fake ourselves so long, then one day something happens, somebody comes along, a challenge arises to the falseness we read in the mirror as true, the mirror cracks. That's when all hell breaks loose. I'll have you know I am not in denial! How dare you suggest such a thing!



One thing I've learned this far along the way is when I react vehemently, maybe I'd better pay attention--it's telling me something I need to know about myself, like what I see in the mirror isn't it. Quit looking in the mirror is all I know to do. One less way to lie to myself. What I see in the mirror doesn't invite extended looking. About all I can think at the mirror anymore is, I'm uglier than last time I looked, getting uglier all the time. I cannot deny that. When the young women at the grocery store checkout don't see me and the bluehairs, the old women who flocked to LasVegas to see Elvis, start looking me up and down, I know something has changed.



I can't separate seeing MYSELF in the mirror from that saggy face with bags under the eyes, wrinkles, down in the mouth, hair sticking out the nose, unshaven, white hair. If the image were someone else, I'd have a very different feeling about it from when it's me. When it's me, all those wrinkles smooth away, the bags under the eyes are gone. It's me I'm looking at, the center of the universe, not some ugly face of a nutcase old turd that never got it. In a way, I kinda got it. Stay out of everything. Often I think of Jr saying, "A man can get in trouble just sticking his finger out the door." Isn't it so. And I always remember what his daddy told him, Stay away from important people. Sound counsel. It resonated all through me when Jr told me that. I already had found that to be the best way by trial and error, but didn't see it so succinctly in such a few words. Important people have to rely on denial and self-deception in order to be an important person. Important people cannot allow themselves spontaneous expression of feeling, either sorrow or joy. Important people can't be seen as real people or they're not important any more. So they have to be fake people, pretending not to be having affairs, pretending not to be bought, pretending to be interested, pretending to care.



I'll take working people to live among, people who can't afford to live fake lives pretending to be something they're not. I love it that in the mountain old time religion churches it's ok for a man to cry, to openly bawl his baby eyes out. Everyone in the church feels it with him instead of talking about him later in judgmental terms. Sure, the working people can get out of control, get drunk, fight, wreck cars, carry guns, be emotionally unpredictable and loud. But it's real. Maybe they haven't learned enough self-control, I don't know. But I like that the people I live among are straight on who they are, not aggressively, just at home in themselves. No concern that somebody might see them someplace they hadn't oughta be unless it's a wife. No need to keep what you think to yourself unless it might hurt somebody. You don't have to worry about what people think of you, because you already know and don't care. People are going to think what they think. Half will be for it and half will be against it, whatever it is.



Pardon all my generalizations. Just my shorthand way of connecting the dots. It just now came to mind, a memory of a friend invited to the White House for dinner in the time of Reagan. When he told me he was invited, just to rib him, I said, "You're not going, are you?" It was one of those moments like when a cat gets a kick out of making another cat jump. He visibly jumped. Of course he was going. It would have been a predicament for me, because I'd have had to decline. But there would never be an occasion that I'd be invited unless it would be for Humor the Delusional Day. It makes me laugh to think I even have considered what I'd do if invited, like there was ever a chance of it, and like I'd want there to be the chance to be regarded a potential assassin by bodyguards all over the place, looked at like a minor wimp by guys prepared to take a bullet for the Pres. I'll be happy in my little old log cabin in the lane.










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