Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Vexation of Spirit, or Go Ask Alice, I think She’ll Know

“I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and behold all is vanity and vexation of spirit…
And I gave my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly; I perceived that this also is vexation of sprit.
For in much wisdom is much grief; and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.
- Holy, Efin, Bible, Ecclesiastes

One of the major buzz kills of knowing everything is that your students frequently are sorry to have to learn from you. By definition, a know-it-all knows everything. Your wisdom causes our grief. The world is composed mostly of fools and madmen who know nothing. And here I am, as Jerry Rafferty said, stuck in the middle with Vexation of Spirit.

I’m in a big close family, with dozens and dozens of immediate and extended families. I’ve known a few “outlaws” in my time, and come to love them. But I’ve never actually been one. Just now, I’m out-gunned by my spouse’s kin here, three to one. Now, I’m the outlaw, an angry bird is staring down at me, claiming the ripening stalk between us. If I cook dinner, Vexation of Spirit has to make an alternative dinner in case she throws up mine.

Just to be safe like G’dma W when we were kids, not trying to make any fuss, and of course managing to make more of a fuss thereby. Wait, what? THAT’s where I’ve felt like this before. Then, I was 10, sharing a bedroom w/sister M1 and G’dma W. One of the first words my mother taught me was “hypochondriac” because I could see one in action so perfectly at the dinner table. As we nestled in our snug beds on Christmas Eve, G’dma would say good night, then, “I hope I live until morning. Please Jesus, just this one more Xmas… I know I won’t be here by next Xmas, and blah, blah…” I learned young the lesson of passive aggression, masquerading as compassion, living so far up the butt of denial that we couldn’t duck the radiation of it’s blast at ground zero. I’d forgotten. “Poor G’dma!” we’d lament in chorus every night when we three went to bed at 8 pm in the pre-adolescent December dark. I hold my neck in muscular sympathetic pain now, for the pain I knew we’d all feel in those moments before we all went off to our own sweet dreams.

I am now about the age G’dma was back on Dallas Avenue. And I’m caught in a time warp of memories from my very happy childhood. So what triggered this post-traumatic stress train wreck of remembrances? Yesterday, my worst dreams were realized. I was the recipient of deep dark family secrets of abuse, betrayal, the ways we hurt the ones we love. It was a strange juxtaposition: loss of trust relayed in untrustworthy ways. I found myself doing the family’s actual dirty laundry as Vexation of Sprit aired the family’s metaphorical dirty laundry. A good example of how increasing knowledge increases sorrow.

No wonder I’m looking outside for a place to hide, even if it’s over 90 and more humid than we expect in July. Muggy days, muggy memories, here at family dysfunction junction. For all my whining, neither MIL nor Tech Support Guy subject me to this crap. Time to cool down by watering the plants now in afternoon shade. The perfect kind of mild sedative I need this week. Blue Cat will guard the gate while I work undisturbed.


walk2write said...

Don't trust the looking-glass. It's distorted, two-dimensional, and it doesn't see into your loving spirit. "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear..."

kate smudges said...

Love the blue cat ... I want one!!

Martha in Michigan said...

I don't remember learning "hypochondriac," but I did learn the word "excruciating" from G'dma W quite young! Also heard quite about "the poor house" we had to nightly beg her not to retreat to. Another example of how the young are always learning -- just not what we think we're teaching them, much of the time.
Hope you survive being an outlaw with a renewed appreciation for what passes as aggravation on a normal day -- and for a working washing machine!