I am so very sick of them. They seem to arrive every few days. Here’s the new winter collection! Hey, and here’s the late winter catalogue. Oh wait, here’s the clearance winter catalog. … In case you forgot, here’s the winter leftovers … and it goes on. The anorexic models continue to exhibit unhappy pouts that make you want to call a hotline for help, and they continue to twist their bodies into angles one would not consider physically possible. And now, there are the new underage-looking models in their grownup-mimicking styles (don’t you just see your tweenage daughter modeling this stuff some day? Perhaps she could practice).
They offer an easy way online to get ON their mailings. Okay, and to “reduce” mailings (I guess, to just under 75). BUT to STOP their mailings, you have to call 1.800.411.5116. And when you call, you waste 10 minutes waiting for the end-catalogues option which DOES NOT HAPPEN. You ask for customer service and the honey-toned voice insists that “I think you asked for Customer Service but I can help you if you just give me a little more information.” So you hope for the best and pronounce your address clearly, whereupon the voice assures you excitedly that in just a few minutes you’ll be able to RECEIVE their prolific mailings (NOT remove them).
So you hiss Customer Service and the voice cannot seem to make out what you are saying and asks you to repeat. Then you eventually get through to a person (of course you have your inevitable wait) …. And congratulations! I have at last gotten off the mailings (Of course they are pre printed so it will take 90 days for me to stop receiving them.)
Meantime if I make the mistake of ordering a single pair of PINK socks from VS, the deluge will resume. Thank goodness it’s not being taken from the Canadian caribou for now – though who knows where else it’s coming from. If you are one of its victims, don’t feel alone: your catalogue is counted among only about 400 million mailings.
You’ve seen her – the uncaring, almost cold individual you work or live with. But then one day, when you pull up in the park, you see her buckling her child into his car-seat, smiling tenderly, talking gently to him. You don’t really want to look at that persona: it’s confusing. Who is she? Is she the kind, tender, considerate person in this moment, or is she the unpleasant, harsh person she is to almost everyone else?
We’d rather deal with the simple, one-dimensional estimation of the nasty person, because otherwise, how do I conceptualize the world, if it is all uncertain, if it is all still in process, or indeed, perishing and coming into being every moment?
You’ve read about criminals, murderers even, who will turn into blubbering sentimental idiots when they speak of their mothers, or their children, or their beloved. They exhibit great self-sacrifice, almost self-forgetfulness, vis-a-vis these loved ones. So who are they, really? Is the real self manifested in those moments that they connect with or speak or think of their loved one/s? Or is the real self really manifested in those other, many moments of cruelty and selfishness? Or is the real self the good, self-sacrificing one, and it is blocked from growing – like a stunted vine – over into other connections?
Who are YOU, really? Are you the charming, sweet, kindly person who helps little old ladies cross the street? Or are you the cold, selfish person who wouldn’t let the other car pass just because? Are you the generous, giving soul or are you the envious, angry heart? Are you both? Which are you more? Which one tips the scale? Why doesn’t the kindly person grow through like a vine into the selfish driver? What are you in your everyday persona, and what are you in bud, or in potential and promise?
It’s a hot day. June 1st in Oklahoma – what do you expect? I just got home after picking up my daughter from preschool. I felt sweaty and hot even in a lightweight outfit. She wanted to drink her milk right away, and then she dozed off. I’d turned on the air-conditioning (we are careful because our old rental house here is a monster for utilities), and it was still hot so I turned on the fan. I lay there by her side in a cool room, knowing it was hot outside. She nuzzled into my body, threw her limbs over me for safekeeping, and fell to a gentle snoring.
I lay there, cool, in my pajamas, comforted by the tranquil sound and feel of toddler sleep, with the knowledge that I was part of the toddler’s tranquility.
I was flooded with a sense that said I was well and at peace. I reminded myself, in body, soul and mind, that I was full of well-being. I was at peace. I was happy in the deepest sense in this moment. This is a moment to treasure and concentrate that sense of well-being. My mother tells me, “Khushi dhoonda karo” (Search for happiness). She means that it doesn’t just happen. You can’t wait around, wondering when it will appear and gather you up in its arms like a fairytale prince. You have to search for it, recognize it, find it, savor it, roll your tongue around it, and capture the flavor.
Then, like Wordsworth, you can recollect that emotion – except not in moments of tranquility but in moments of non-well-being. The life of this world is not an endless series of moments of happiness. You have to find those moments, and hold on to them. And then make your way through the other moments of not-happiness, accompanied by the warm comforting sense of well-being, like the taste of a delicious meal lingering on your palate.