September 17, 2012
A Bit of Token Zen
I've used a few centering thoughts over the years to keep me from grinding my teeth down to stubs in the face of ignorance, frustration, anxiety, and hardship. However, the two most important ones that I've used to keep my neurosis in check enough to fit them in my car have been, firstly, "The world takes you much less seriously than you take yourself. The second has always been to be the bamboo. (I can't help but hear Chevy Chase from Caddy Shack saying "Be the ball. Nananananananananana." every time I parade that thought across the back of my eyes.) These two ideas have done more for my sanity than any therapists' couch might ever accomplish.
Now, you may think it absurd for someone who spends her time getting up on stage and talking about why you should fuck fat chicks or writing about her personal experience with bankruptcy would say that the world probably doesn't notice her. Yes. I'd agree. I tell these things, on paper, online, and in person, because eventually, I'm going to run out of room in my head for such things as how to tie my shoes, or why deodorant goes on before you put your clothes on. In short, I write, talk, and perform, because that's a natural state for me. I rehearse in my head what I'm going to write down while in the shower, and race to the keyboard while I'm still fighting with the towel. I scribble in a notebook at stoplights. There's an awful lot going on upstairs, and I want to keep ahold of it. I'm a bit of a data hoarder in that regard.
However, bearing in mind that the world, and the people in it, don't take me nearly as seriously as I do myself kept me sane in the years of dating I went through post and peridivorce. Remembering that whatever I was stressing about likely wasn't about me helped me to keep from second guessing *everything*. I don't live in my heart, I live in my head. Not knowing (and caring to know) about a situation keeps me off-kilter and steam just might shoot out of my ears. Remembering a variation of Occam's Razor has helped me keep my feet on the ground more than once. Once that became comfortable, it seeped out into the rest of my life. And this is why I have chosen bamboo as a symbol.
If you're unfamiliar, bamboo is a truly amazing plant. It is hardy, with species that can grow all over the world. Being fast-growing, it's possible to measure growth at 35+ inches in just 24 hours. I don't know about you, but I'm 65 inches tall. The idea that a grass can grow to roughly half my height in one day impresses me.
Bamboo is very, very strong. Many industries have used it for building materials because it's plentiful and durable. However, this amazing grass is also a case study in duality because it also remains very, very flexible. It's in this seeming contradiction that I find my comfort using a simple plant as my sort of zen token.
Why bamboo? Well, I really like the idea of being able to, if needed, take a punch to the ego and come back wiser and stronger and ready for more. In searching for that, I thought maybe Teflon might be viable. I mean, if nothing sticks, it's hard to get your panties in a bunch about something, right? But that just got me thinking about pots and pans. Not that it's a bad mental image, but the odds were I'd go on to reach up into that thought bubble, grab a frying pan, and beat the hell out of the person or situation in front of me. That has the unfortunate reality of being the exact opposite of the intended reaction, so I had to scrap the idea of pondering a Teflon navel. The Panda food seemed to be the better choice.
I've thought about how I can remind myself to find that mix of strength and flexibility. The idea of getting a tattoo as a sort of fleshy indicia has occurred to me, but was rejected out of uncertainty. I've also pondered putting a decorative plant on my desk. Nothing has really clicked yet. For now, "Be the bamboo." repeated like a mantra will by my thing. It's seen me through divorce, bankruptcy, a real estate short sale, a challenging car purchase, moving, and a new job. With a record like that, I think it's pretty safe to say it doesn't need to be more complicated.