Saturday, January 6, 2018

Saturday ramble

I've been watching the horrendous "Iron Fist" just to round out the Defenders universe (I have to wait until March for more Jessica Jones); I was horrified--but shouldn't have been surprised, given the show's consistently, stupidly horrendous handling of racial issues--by the show's discussion of meditation. Danny describes meditation as a route to turn off feelings; weapons don't have feelings, he adds. Fair enough about the last part, I guess, but the show is perpetuating a harmful myth about meditation. Meditation doesn't turn off your feelings; it trains you to manage them.

Watch the second half of Trevor Noah's interview with Dan Harris and read this article--not specifically about mediation--about working with, not against, your mind. I've been listening regularly to guided meditations on an app I got through work--the work program also included live sessions, though I could only attend a few--and between those, and sessions I've attended in the past, the overarching theme is that it's human to wander, and that you don't beat yourself up for being human. Mediation is hard enough for people to make time for, without people making it harder by spreading misinformation. Like that awful Times op-ed that I didn't link to here.

I've been much better about meditating, and the difference is noticeable. On Wednesday as we were stuck in crawling traffic on the way to the airport, I should have been a wreck. I didn't anticipate traffic (I specifically booked a flight late enough that we wouldn't be driving in rush hour) and didn't allow a ton of time. I had a meeting that afternoon that I really needed to be at (it was scheduled after I'd booked my ticket), and I'd brought a suit with me as superstition/insurance: if I had a suit with me in the unlikely event that we landed in time for me to make the meeting straight from the airport, I wouldn't need it; I'd arrive in plenty of time to get home, unpack, and head to work.

So, you see, I'd factored in the possibility of flight delays, but not of my missing the flight altogether. That would suck. We crawled down the pike. I took a deep breath once in a while and stayed calm. I got to the airport with enough time to get to the gate, but just enough time. The check-in machine scolded me as I reprinted my boarding pass, said the gate was closing soon! I stayed oddly calm, for me. As I saw even the pre-check line coiled into several rows and as it moved faster but not that fast, and even as they pulled my bag and randomly selected me for additional screening, I was calm. I got to the gate as they were boarding my group. I got what I wished for: I'd been so sick of gate areas and boarding lines that I hardly had to spend a minute at the gate.

This would have stressed me out a lot more before, but I really do think that the meditation practice has made a difference. Things are still stressful and unnerving--I find any travel a bit unnerving, even as I enjoy it. Our Singapore-Malaysia trip was awesome, but it was somewhat stressful.

We landed just after noon, so I had time to go home and change and get to my meeting. It felt good to be at work, to realize that I still knew how to do my job. It was also good to see everyone.

I thought about how my mother either wouldn't have respected my need to get to work, or wouldn't have admitted it. She might have gone out of her way to undermine both my sense of need to be there and my ability to get there. She got power trips over dilly-dallying when I was worried about being late, or when I or my father were trying to get somewhere she found unimportant (for example seeing his family). I still don't know if it was out of deliberate controlling behavior or clueless lack of consideration, or what combination of both, she booked a vacation in the Poconos the week after I started grad school and demanded that I drive up for the weekend. It was definitely stressful; I definitely could have stood to stay in town and acclimate, rather than being pulled out of my new universe. And she would have been both incapable of thinking about that or respecting it if it were made known to her. I remembered a number of other times--once I was working full time--that she just couldn't or wouldn't understand why I couldn't visit or meet her somewhere at a given time, because I had to be at an event or meeting. After I told her that once--that I couldn't visit on a given weekend because there was an event I had to attend--she asked me how the "party" was. I'm not sure she believed me when I said it wasn't a party, but in retrospect it made sense that that's how she interpreted 'event.' It wasn't a language barrier; it was a barrier to her acknowledging that I was an adult with a job that came with responsibilities.

There are still things I'm not as zen about as I'd like to be--mostly, dating. I'm so sick of it, and it does not bring out the best on me. I meet men and mostly think how I'm better off single than with that. Speed-dating, especially, does not suit me. Especially because automatonish IT guys are over-represented. They ask these weird, quantitative questions. What are the first five things my best friend would say about me? How the fuck should I know. Someone asked me what my favorite country was. I'm not going to say that only people who don't travel could answer that question, but I certainly can't. I have to pick a favorite country? I couldn’t narrow it down to ten, and if I could, who cares? If you think or process information and experiences by ranking things, more power to you. That’s not how I think.

Anyway, onward.

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