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Gnome

Posted in Adventures With Humans

Gnome

God bless the cashier in Zehrs who got my joke. I told him, as I loaded a choir’s worth of bottles onto the conveyor belt, that “I dilute my wine with a thin slice of lime.” He didn’t miss a beat. He laughed. He got it. And I was so delighted, and so grateful. I told him that I was looking after my mother. I added that “I would never do this to my kids,” and that is true. I love them too much. God I love them. Later that afternoon, I pushed on and hauled my ass out onto the trails even though it was raining, because I have to keep it together; right now, the universe is a bully, and he’s pushing me off the swings. Living on my own with all that goes on in my head, in this shitty time in the world takes stamina, planning, and unrelenting vigilance: I drink, but never too much. Get up in the morning, and don’t sleep in; NEVER walk around in pajamas. Don’t eat garbage. Exercise. Floss. Floss–I buy it in the little blue, plastic boxes with the black stamp on the bottom that says, Made in Ireland. I like that because it makes me assume that the floss is magic just because of where it’s made. I imagine the floss company’s CEO, a gnome, taking calls and then having meetings with floss shift supervisors and ad execs around tiny, wooden, rough-hewn tables.  The workers are all elves. They wear typical green outfits with blue aprons and do their best, turning the deliveries of wispy clouds and unicorn thoughts into the thin, white strands that we use to dredge out the rot between our teeth. I know this makes no sense, but the scene brings me joy. Welcome to my head.
 
I like the idea of magic, the thrill of there being something else to our humanity beside bones and meat. Yes gnomes, but also art, and the natural world around us. On my recent hike in the rain I stood looking over a meadow, and succumbed to weeping; the feel of the soft earth under my boots, and the smell of spring newness cast its spell and made it okay to drop my defenses, gave me permission. The “Get out of Jail Free,” bullshit came up, the marker of the end of my marriage and I wanted to scream over how I just stood there and took it like some soft-headed dope. I’m not sure that I will ever fully get over that, but I did learn from it. I believe that I am a better person than I was, and baby, you should know that this outcome is the result of a hell of a lot of work. Now here I am, just in time for the pandemic and the ridiculous world of 2020.
 
Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Now, here in this pandemic, I wonder what ‘forward’ will look like. Am I even interested? Yesterday, I stood and talked with an acquaintance whose husband is dying. I watched her, eyes welling up above her mask, hands wringing at the bag she was carrying. She was terrified, completely overwhelmed at the suffering that lay ahead. Suffering; is THIS going to continue to be a thing? “God? Ya wanna chime in on this, because I’ve just about had it.”  Yes, I know that experiencing pain and loss can open up parts of you that you never knew existed. Profound love can do this also; that ache is as wonderful as it is terrible. It’s different than, for example, a short FB chat I had with a guy where he asked me if I was in a relationship and then went on to talk about how horny he’s been during this pandemic, blaming it on his anxiety. This is very hard and I want it to stop.
 
In the diligence of my solitude, I watch particular movies that have a message. In one of these, Stranger Than Fiction a movie about an IRS agent who is a character in a novel that is in the process of being written, the love interest, says at one point that she, “wanted to make the world a better place.” And I wondered why the world always seems to need improving upon. Always. WTF? Why do we need so many aid agencies, wellness centres, social workers? Why is finding ways to cope even a thing?  Why not simply flourish? Is it because, somewhere mankind lost its way, discovered retail and gave up compassion? This is bullshit.
 
The Kominsky Method,” a recent Netflix series, touches on several of the hot buttons that I’ve been thinking about lately, death being one of them. Use the Buddhist word, “impermanence’’ if the other makes you nervous. Whichever you prefer, I am not afraid of it at all. I’m actually curious as hell, but what I AM afraid of is missing out on a really great, inspiring relationship with another human after the buzzer goes. I’m no longer a soft-headed idiot. Thanks to all of the challenging experiences in my Kierkegaardian past(and also holy fuck), I am a different person than I was. Jesus, it was as if my program wasn’t fully running at times. I’m embarrassed when I consider it, but here I am, fully flossed and ready to go, I suppose. I’m hoping that there’s some magic ahead. Alan Arkin’s character in Kominsky, after the death of his wife–his best friend in life–says, “It hurts to be human. It hurts like hell. And all the exploring in the world doesn’t make that hurt go away, because being human, and being hurt are the same damn thing.” The Buddhist phrase, “life is suffering,” comes to mind, and you know what? I think that’s horseshit. That’s like saying, “the car is stuck in the mud,” and just leaving it there and taking the bus. Who worked ‘suffering’ into the mix and thought that would be helpful? No. Go back and try harder. Stop phoning it in. FIX THIS.
 
I‘m exhausted and I really don’t want to continue be a part of this brutal experiment unless there’s some good magic coming. I need it to do its thing and change all of this ridiculousness, and also to nudge me toward ‘that significant other.’ If it doesn’t, I’m sure that I will wake up one morning to realize that my body has reverted to a pile of dust on its own. Please. Magic. Something.
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

2 comments

  • Don Penner on May 18th, 2020
    Hey Suzanne... Prior to reading this first piece my only awareness of you was the day at spin class that you made me look like a beginner on the bike beside me. Thanks for offering an authentic look into yourself and life in the midst of this covid crisis. I’m certain it’s harder to endure as a single person... I have the advantage of the family unit around me as a distraction... including two teenagers (18 and 17) who at least politely ignore their dad... which is still better than the silence of living alone. So hey... go ahead and complain about the fuckhead playing the shitty music... I understand now. Don
  • Amanda on May 19th, 2020
    Ahhhh Suzanne, once again, you've touched my heart and soul with your thoughts, wit, and sensibility. I'd never heard the Kierkegaard quote before (I know you are much better read than me - thus you are a great writer) “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Yesss! I guess that's why we women, after 50, begin to really be ourselves and not what someone else wants us to be. You might like the ideas that humangivens.com puts out - That it is a given that we need specific things in our life in order to thrive: security; autonomy; attention; intimacy; community; status; achievement & competence; privacy; meaning & purpose. Without any one of these things we can feel depressed or lost. I think Montessori and Waldorf can give us much of this, especially if our parents live these philosophies - as young children we needed to feel loved, accepted, secure and allowed to explore in order to find meaning and purpose. I think my parents gave me much of these, along with my Quaker education . . . but alas, in the days of Dr. Spock, many of us were left to cry in our crib cause they didn't want to "spoil" us Ugh! Spoil us! Give us security. Don't allow us to feel that the world is a dangerous place. Fill it with love. And, OMG: "And I wondered why the world always seems to need improving upon. Always. WTF? Why do we need so many aid agencies, wellness centres, social workers? Why is finding ways to cope even a thing? Why not simply flourish? Is it because, somewhere mankind lost its way, discovered retail and gave up compassion? This is bullshit." These are such important, powerful questions! Really! WTF?! As Vandana Shiva and David Suzuki say, during this time of quarantine, we really need to question all of that! We have a wake up call. Capitalism is not working for humanity nor the beautiful Earth. I agree, we don't need to suffer. We need to thrive, with the beauty that abounds. Btw, I completely understand the relief of wine, (or whisky!) when taking care of a parent who is so stubborn. We have to become the parent and that is so hard! I couldn't do it. I used to take a few sips of whisky in my room before joining my mother in her home for the evening. It helped take the tension away before being faced with her anxieties and fears. It's 11:50 a.m. and I am still in my pj's. ;) Quarantine's made me very laid back . . . . It might be hard getting back to work life after this. In fact, this joke was sent to me this morning: "I hope they give us two weeks notice before sending us back out into the real world. I think we'll all need the time to become ourselves again. And by “ourselves” I mean lose 10 pounds, cut our hair, and get used to not drinking at 9:00 a.m." Thankfully those aren't my problems, but I'll need fair warning to prepare my psyche. Sending love and light

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