Daily Prompt: Sky

The thing I like best about the sky is that it can provide an unimpeded view of distance. I like to look up in the sky, when there aren’t trees or other tall objects immediately in the way so that it stretches on an on, and think about how far I am seeing; to imagine whose ceiling I am observing; to wonder who, miles away from me, might be looking at the same patch of blue. Buildings, hills, trees when I am not on a mountaintop generally get in the way so that I cannot really comprehend my place in space, but when I look at the sky, and especially when those altocumulus or stratocumulus clouds create striations that delineate the miles stretching away, I feel a nameless wonder. I feel like the world is big and mysterious and full of good things, but that nothing after all is really very far away, as if the sky exists as a sort of super-highway where I can avoid being bogged down by earthly bullshit, and instead just pop on over to where I want to be. Of course, I never have yet found the call button for that particular elevator, but looking at the big sky never fails to make me hope.

Sky sounds for today: “Morning Serenade” from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet

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Daily Prompt: Angry

From the beginning, we are taught that angry is bad. The culmination of all the ugly, the horrible, the mean, the loss of control. We are taught to hide it, to suppress it, to circumvent it. Nothing is worse than anger. Until you discover that which is worse.

Nothing.

Is worse.

Return

I have just returned from a much-needed vacation. No spectacular destination, but it had been 3 and a half years since I last visited with my parents, sisters and their families, and my extended family. It was sooo nice, so relaxing and peaceful.

I am back now, and facing that dilemma posed by all vacations: how to get back into the routine? For me this is problematized further, since I do not exactly want to return to the old; I need to set up a new and improved routine.  Urgghh.  I have made a list. I’m thinking there are too many things needing to go into each day, but that’s probably just the Lazy talking.

To new routines, new habits, and progress, here we go!

Daily Prompt: Healthy

Ugh. Healthy. A word I have grown to despise.

Too often, it gets brandished as a weapon of absolutism. People who seek to put others down and lift themselves up by comparison attempt to mask their intentions by wielding the word euphemistically, or by dressing up their criticism as concern: “Is that candy bar really good for you?” or “Oh, no sugar in mine, please. I’m trying to be healthy.” (These are pretty benign examples, though). Usually having to do with weight, food, and exercise, the idea of what’s “healthy” has become a convenient shorthand for summing up a person’s worth. Let’s imagine some scenarios:

  • On Instagram, or Facebook, etc., images of doing something that requires physical exertion, such as hiking, biking, running, or home improvement, possibly accompanied by a caption that emphasizes how healthful the activity is: a classic digital identity marker that screams, “LOOK AT ME! I IS SO HEALTHY DON’T YOU WISH YOU WERE AS VIRTUOUS??” Now, granted, some of us hike or bike or run and just want to occasionally share that part of ourselves digitally. Fine. But usually you can tell when someone’s playing it up to emphasize how HEALTHY they are.
  • You’ve lost a bit of weight, and people start telling you how “healthy” you look. Mmhmm, it’s obvious what’s going on here, no *wink, wink, nudge nudge* needed. When weight is equated with health, we have a problem. Perhaps you have lost weight because you’ve gone on a starvation diet: is that healthy? The truth is, there is no absolute idea of “health” as represented by body shape and size, and therefore no one has a right to use this as a judgment of someone’s health.
  • A food product is advertised as “healthy.” Different people have different metabolisms, engage in different activities, and have different nutrition needs. Also, just as people engage in sex for pleasure, as well as procreation, people eat for pleasure, and not just sustenance. The overwhelming (and misleading) emphasis on defining food as absolutely “healthy” or “not healthy” creates and reinforces a food morality that does nothing to promote actual health.

When used as a relative term, in specific situations, “healthy” is a fine word. But I firmly believe that it’s a personal word. NO ONE other than you, and those you have explicitly authorized (such as your doctor when it comes to strictly medical health, or your close friends and loved ones to whom you have opened up), has the right to tell you what is or is not “healthy.” We should not be intimidated by this judgmental concept of health, we should not give in to health absolutism, and we should be mindful not to perpetuate this toxic form of “morality.”

Edit: came across this article and thought I’d append it here; basically a much-more researched and thought-out discussion of this topic and totally worth the read.

 

Daily Prompt: Underestimate

Underestimate. Under. Esteem. (your Mate.)

Do I do this? I hope to everything that is sacred that I don’t, but I know that, in a way, I do. Lately I’ve been under a depressive cloud (a mildish one, but still), and I’ve noticed that I walk around thinking and acting as if I’m alone, when in fact there is another human being right there. I’ve had to consciously remind myself of this, looking at my husband and saying in my mind, “Hello, other human.”  I reach out and touch his skin and for a moment I’m brought back into time.

Do I actually esteem him any less because of my mood? No; he remains the best example of humanity I have ever met. But it would be nice if I could remember to treat him that way.

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Situational Irony

I am so good at looking at fragments and seeing a pattern, crafting a clear vision out of nothing. Except when it comes to looking at my own life. My own disconnected threads will not be bound together; I cannot see myself complete; I cannot refrain from the attempt, or the constant defeat.

(is it a faux pas to have pinged the daily prompt twice in one day? it wasn’t my intention to do so; this post just seemed appropriately themed as an afterthought)

Daily Prompt: Vision

Language has an amazing ability to shed light on how we truly think and feel. If our emotions and impulses are bare drywall, then words are the many layers of wallpaper and paint we use to make them presentable to others; yet, like those coverings, words can be peeled away and the layers themselves can be very revealing.

One example I find interesting is the convergence of meanings between “vision” and “dream.” When “vision” is mentioned with no context, we often primarily think of the meaning “the ability to see with the eyes.” And yet, close at hand is the meaning “something seen in the mind.” Likewise, “dream” without context most often invokes “something seen only in the mind.” When referring to mental pictures, the former more often is used to convey a conscious fantasy, something intentionally attempted, and the latter more often to convey an unconscious reverie, something accidentally bestowed, but even this distinction is easily erased: both are often used interchangeably to mean “something seen that isn’t there, that we hope to achieve.” I have a vision for a better future; I have a dream. The ability to dream in this way is uniquely human: most animals have vision, but only humans can have a vision; most animals do dream, but only humans can have a dream.  Perhaps it is our greatest asset as a species.

Side note: last night I had a dream I was killed by terrorists; here’s hoping it was not a vision.

Daily Prompt: Survival

Benjamin Spicket was not one of those guys who could be relied on in tough times. When he was a child, no part of him would have reminded you of a cute blonde kid with a penchant for booby trapping a house as a way to stay one step ahead of bandits. In his early 20s, he would pop a few Hungry-Man frozen dinners in the microwave and snuggle up with his television to watch a dozen naked and sweaty people scramble around on an island. When Destiny’s Child made a video reminiscent of that show — he couldn’t remember the name of the song — he loved it only in the manner of single 20-something men everywhere. A few years later, he completely eschewed another TV show that was hosted by a guy with a ridiculous name, “Grizzly Bear” or something like that, because it did not have nearly enough hot women. And throughout his whole life, he could never have told you who Gloria Gaynor was, though occasionally, often while he was in the shower or applying the Axe Body Spray, the wordless tune of her most famous song would float jauntily through his subconscious.

Benjamin Spicket had been more like one of those kids who dropped a spider down the back of your little sister’s dress when she was 7.  When questioned, he would not or could not tell you why he did it, but you had your suspicions. He was kinda like that guy in college who grinned at you from the dorm room bed when you showed up to take your friend from the sticky floor to the nearest emergency room. He avoided expulsion then, and he flew below the boss’s radar now. He was the Neo of dodging pink slips. He was a survivor.