I don’t really want to go into her death, but it suffices to say she passed peacefully after a long fight with cancer. She had been failing slowly for many months, but she took a turn over the past weekend, and the first I heard of it was last night when my mom called and told me that if I had anything I wanted to share with her, now was the time to do it. She put the phone by my grandmother’s ear and I shared with her how much I loved and appreciated the role she had played in my life and how proud I was to be her granddaughter, and then I spent a restless night mulling over the ends of things. When I woke this morning, I learned she’d passed in the night – as we all expected.
I spent the morning moody and sad for her loss, but also for the fact that ends like this make us reflect on the means, so to speak. How does one pass the time he or she is given on earth? How am I passing it? Would I be happy with my life were I to pass away tomorrow?
I had a minor existential dilemma.
I came across an article that helped me tie together some of the loose ends that have been dangling in my subconscious preventing me from forming a coherent thought worthy of sharing with the blogosphere for the last month. The article was called, “Why Lying Broken in a Pile on Your Floor Is a Good Idea” and I think the craziness of the title alone drew me to it. The reason for this is that it contradicts all the work I have been doing over the last year or so! I have been making efforts to be a more outwardly positive (inwardly I’m pretty positive), uncomplicated, and generally “nice” person. The reasons for this are many, but most directly I had quite a few discussions with D where he told me I was too critical, sarcastic, or mean. While I know he is particularly sensitive to that stuff, it also made me think. After reflecting on these conversations I resolved to work on this because I know that I can be all of the above, at times. I wanted to express myself in a more sincere, uncomplicated way that was not threatening to people. More than that, I wanted to BE more sincere, uncomplicated, and non-threatening.
So, I have been working on these things for a few months now and it’s going well. The only problem is that something about making an effort to be uncontroversial, uncomplicated, and nice, grates against my being. I am not sure why, because I am not naturally mean or threatening (and most people would laugh if I told them I sometimes think of myself that way). But something about the effort to hide my authentic person behind a facade of pleasantness – to lose all the sass and sarcasm and emotional tides that go with it – seems wrong. I feel I’m not entirely being true to who I am.
I read an article a few weeks ago that echoed this sentiment, and I emailed myself a quote from it. It was about this Asian guy and his struggles fitting, or not fitting as the case may be, the typical stereotype of someone who is Asian. His quote was this:
“In lieu of loving the world twice as hard, I care, in the end, about expressing my obdurate singularity at any cost. I love this hard and unyielding part of myself more than any other reward the world has to offer a newly brightened and ingratiating demeanor, and I will bear any costs associated with it.”
And I love this quote. Why? Because it is so blatantly asinine and so uncompromisingly authentic. I can relate 100% – because what I read from that is not that he doesn’t love the world, it’s just that he’s not going to live his life compromising his authenticity for the sake of getting ahead. I love that. It makes me feel like I’m not alone in bristling against the cult of positivity and niceness; I’m not alone in lamenting the process of growing “mature,” whereby people lose the spunk and uniqueness that once defined them, and slowly morph into corporate robots.
So, fast forward to today and the Goddess of Never Not Broken as featured in the first linked article. Yes, that’s right. Never. Not. Broken (or always broken if you’re not a fan of the double negative). This goddess LOVES chaos, uncertainty, and transition. This Goddess rides a crocodile. This Goddess and I would have a lot of fun together. This is a Goddess to whom I can relate, because we both relish that which is undefined, gray, and makes other people squeamish. We both see opportunity in uncertainty and latch on to that sense of possibility. In change we find constancy. In change we find peace. She and I could ride our crocodiles around the world stirring up good-natured trouble and we would have a hell of a time.
Yes, Never Not Broken validated my sense of self today. She validated the days when I relish my angst. (Side note: Once upon a time it was cool to be angsty and I miss those days terribly) She validated my comfort with change and my discomfort with constancy. She made me feel like perhaps there is something beautiful in raw emotion, as much as there is uncomplicated niceness.
So, I googled the goddess of Never Not Broken, and I found this amusing blog: Namaste, Bitches. And, though I may not be a yoga instructor, I am a pretty good student, so a lot of her descriptions resonate with me! Especially about being authentic. And who says, Namaste, bitches? How awesome is that? It definitely reinvigorated my desire to complete a yoga teacher training – once I know where my life will take me in the next few months.
*** The below got posted only partially due to some unknown glitch in my “save” function. I am now correcting***
Anyway, perhaps since I left Macalester and found myself immersed in a “real world” where not everyone is questioning the hegemony inherent in our culture or acting our against heteronormativity or cultural insensitivity, I have become a little self-conscious of my propensity to have strong opinions, to want to debate with people, and to be always questioning what’s around me. I now realize that some people find this type of discourse to be mind-numbing and would rather talk about less controversial subject matter like, hmm, baseball. It’s been a rough road for me. But, I now, feel somewhat validated as I lean into diversity and challenge and feel that I don’t need to hide my true never-not-broken self.