Thursday, May 21, 2009

Goblins And Other Modern Phenomena

So was there a lesson to be learned in my experience at my son’s graduation? Did I see the light, was I washed pure of need and anxiety, free to go forth into the world secure in the knowledge of my value unconstrained by social comparisons?

Not quite. I have not found that wisdom comes as a large and musical gift from the universe. Knowledge is in fact rarely revelatory. I find that wisdom, such as we might find it, is more like learning how to stock your kitchen cabinets. How many light bulbs of what wattage to have as backup? What size cans of diced tomatoes? The value of frozen chicken stock?

It is hard to unlearn one’s emotional makeup. I have not found the key to that palace in 52 years. But with luck I think we can come to understand ourselves. Sometimes I see my particular anxieties as goblins, goblins of need and worry making their living underground. The pictures here are from one of my favorite childhood books, The Princess and the Goblins. While I do not see myself as a princess the goblins are miners in my self for better or for worse. I would love to turn on some kind of very big and powerful hose and direct it down through their tunnels, to see their large-nosed selves washed up onto the plains and down the river. But I find the best hope is simply to discover what they need and make my peace with them. I forgive myself for harboring these goblins. It’s very Californian of me. We make a deal. I stock my cabinets with their favorite cereals. Come on up little goblins, have some Cheerios.

I could have spoken strictly to myself when my son graduated, knowing that it was wrong to feel as I did. I could have forced myself to go through what I dreaded. Or I could accommodate the goblins. Accommodate them with a rueful shrug. After all, as long as I can see their little goblin faces and count their little goblin shovels, they harm no one but me.

And no, unfortunately, wisdom does not make your old lady hair suddenly look like this.

Images: Wikipedia



Anonymous Maureen at IslandRoar said...

You wouldn't want your old lady hair to look like that; imagine the upkeep.
Hey, if we feel it, it can't be wrong; right?
Now THAT sounds very "California."
Nice post; thanks.

May 22, 2009 at 7:40 AM  

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