Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Attachment and Aversion
My natural tendency is to avoid change. If left to my own devices, I will find ways to work within situations that are blatantly unworkable (like 25 years of living in Phoenix) rather than run the risk of doing something different. I want friendships to stay the same. I want the places where I lived to stay the same. I want my job to stay the same. I even want my phone number to stay the same. My dad wrote birthday letters to us every year, and in one of mine he wrote that I resisted change more than anyone he'd ever known. I was eleven.
It seems also that my natural tendency is toward worst-case scenario. Yes, today's situation might be less than ideal, but we better not do anything about it because it could be much much worse. When we first moved to Phoenix, our family attended a free program at the Glendale library about personalities. I was a melancholic. Yes. At twelve. (Many fine writers, I went on to research, were also melancholic. So there.)
I am working on the "attachment and aversion" chapter in The Writing Warrior, and my first thought about those concepts is, yeah, well, so? Although I know they're the twin sisters of suffering, I still stomp my feet in defiance of the reality of change.
When I was very young, I had a baby blanket that I loved. I slept with it. Carried it around the house. I had planned to take it to school when I started kindergarten, and I remember telling mom I was going to have it at my wedding. What I loved most about the blanket was its smell. I don't remember that it smelled dirty -- it just smelled like me -- which likely was dirty if I'd had the blanket four years.
One day, mom told me she was going to wash the blanket and she gave me a new blanket. The new blanket wasn't the same as the old blanket. It was thicker, a different shade of white, and it didn't have the fraying ribbon edge that I loved to rub between my fingers. It turned out mom hadn't planned to wash the blanket. She threw it away and I guess hoped I wouldn't notice. To be fair, mom and I hadn't known each other long enough for her to know I noticed everything -- but more importantly, she couldn't have known yet that once I loved something, I loved it forever. One blanket can't be replaced with another blanket. Not no way. Not no how.
I don't remember how I found out, but I know she ended up getting my blanket back out of the trash. I'm sure there was loud screaming and stomping of feet. I'm sure she thought it was time I got rid of the baby blanket. I'm sure she was right.
But I'm sure of this too. At 40 and ten months, I've still got that blanket in my nightstand.