“Inside the snow globe on my father’s desk, there was a penguin wearing a red-and-white-striped scarf. When I was little my father would pull me into his lap and reach for the snow globe. He would turn it over, letting all the snow collect on the top, then quickly invert it. The two of us watched the snow fall gently around the penguin. The penguin was alone in there, I thought, and I worried for him. When I told my father this, he said, “Don’t worry, Susie; he has a nice life. He’s trapped in a perfect world.” ― Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones
When I was a child I was trapped in a perfect world.
From the outside the life I was born into had all the appearances which the eyes of others would see with a touch of envy.
It was designed to look that way because those who created it equated envy with admiration, and admiration was the sort of attention which they desired because it nourished their need to be viewed as being better than.
From the outside people thought I was lucky.
I have had strangers walk up to me and talk to me about how blessed I was compared to them. They spoke to me about my life, who I was, all the things which I had been given and had, and how I should appreciate the abundance.
If I did not look sufficiently appreciative in their eyes, they would then lecture me about the world according to them, one in which others suffered (but not me), did not have as I had, and where other people (usually meaning themselves) had to struggle hard to get even a morsel of the cornucopia which had been handed to me on a silver platter without my truly being deserving of it.
From the outside people thought I was a spoiled brat.
They tell children to never talk to strangers, but no one tells strangers not to talk to children. So I had to stand there being talked to (or at but never with) without the ability to talk back. I had to listen politely.
From the outside I had the coolest parents a child could have.
My friends and schoolmates saw the toys, the things, which I had. Heard about the places I’d been, places parents usually did not take their children. And they were treated to an experience of parents, of adults, which they’d never had before when they met my parents.
How fortunate I was to have parents who behaved towards children as though they were equals, who were fun and played games as children played games.
From the outside my parents were adults.
They were older than the parents of most of my friends, but they behaved as though they were forever young, younger than the parents of my friends, younger than my friends, younger than me, but so much cooler. And unlike us, they’d never grow up or grow old.
From the outside I lived in a perfectly free world.
I had all the advantages, the scales were unbalanced in my favour. I could do as I pleased. Choose whichever path appealed to me the most (on a whim if whim did take me) or choose none at all. It didn’t matter.
I could go to school or not go to school. I could do my homework or not do my homework. I could stay up all night. Eat whatever I wanted. Drink wine. Watch X-rated films. Read Playboy. Swear like a crusty old sailor. Dress up or dress down or wear nothing at all.
Of course some of these things could only be done when no one was watching, but they still heard about it because creating an appearance isn’t all about the eyes. If you want others to look at you with the admiration of envy, then you have to tap into all of their senses, including nonsense. People especially love and love to hate what they can’t fathom.
From the outside I lived in the land of fame, fortune and fabulous things.
Welcome to the double life with double standards.
From the outside the inside is imagined. Imagined and judged by what is perceived of the outside. And the outside is a reflection of projection. Which is so much more interesting, enticing, and believable than what is actually real. What is on the inside is irrelevant. The truth inside can’t compete with the semblance of truth on the outside.
From the inside, I was trapped in a perfect world.
From the inside I looked outside.
I saw other lives. Ones I admired and envied. I saw luck where I was told luck did not exist. I saw blessings in what were called curses. I saw freedom in struggles. I saw ease in hardship. I saw opportunity in suffering. I saw plenty in emptiness.
I wanted the parents which other children rejected.
I wanted to earn and deserve what I earned.
I wanted to know what the other side of the scales was like.
I wanted the advantages which others called disadvantages.
My perfect world looked imperfect to me, and the imperfect world of others appeared perfect.
“These things, she felt, were not to be passed around like disingenuous party favors. She kept an honor code with her journals and her poems. ‘Inside, inside,’ she would whisper quietly to herself when she felt the urge to tell…” ― Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones
This week I have been caught in between several minds about my life – the past, the present and the future. Part of me needs to think things through… another part would rather not think… and… so on.
Luckily, at the end of this week I was whisked away to another time and place.
My partner’s family gathered for a celebration… not at their country pile, not at Downton Abbey… just at an hotel which mimics a time and place of that sort. It is real but not real, and that is a rather nice land in between in which to take a break.
My partner’s family are lovely and very different from my own family of origin… which is again, lovely. Yes, they have issues, all humans do as it is a part of the experience of being alive and living, but there is always a true bond of love running through everything with them. My family wouldn’t know love if it labeled itself succinctly and hit them in the face repeatedly.
I did not know all of his family, but the ones I do know… it was wonderful to catch up with them and their life adventures… and the ones whom I did not know, it was a pleasure to meet them all. It was an embracing hug from all… for one who does not particularly like hugs, but at times sees the joy of them.
In between socialising, I wandered around the grounds of this magnificent hotel and explored its secret nooks and crannies. Signs abounded and I felt that each one had a message of sorts for me. Whether I understood them of not…
No, thank you… I’d rather not mind my head at the moment, it’s full of chaos and it might lead me astray…
However I will pass through this threshold to see what lies on the other side… I’ll try to avoid hitting my head. I once used to long for amnesia… now, not so much, good memories are beginning to outnumber bad ones…
So many ways to go, which shall I choose… maybe all… following paths hither and thither, roaming without a map or a destination in sight…
On the day of the solstice a door closing at dusk seems… not so ominous as dusk is a long way off, kind of like death seems to be at times… so I ventured onwards without fear of being locked in or locked out – unsure of which was which, what side I was on of anything really…
A sign beckoned me to look closer and read its ancient wisdom… yes, yes…. when all within is at peace… how rare that is, but when it is, how blissful…
Just keep going, don’t stop too long or you might congeal and turn into a statue…
A statue who seems to whether all the storms of life without a care in the world… it’s easy to appear that way, but it is just an appearance which is easy to give. yet not so easy to take.
Through a gate seemingly guarded by angels… to a place in between… a place of momentary rest…
Not here, the sign warns not to linger… well, one sign – plus fence to add gravitas – warns of danger within the confines of this chapel. The other sign which can’t be read in the photo, claims that this place is still consecrated and open for sanctuary to all who seek it… but you may get in trouble for trespassing… I don’t know, this church is giving mixed messages.
Yet close to the church is a folly which can be entered… which is rabbit approved…
But perhaps it only is for rabbits…
Keep going… to another place…
A terrace in the clouds… sort of… a place between rooms, a sun trap which is highly recommended by butterflies.
It was nice to get away… it gives a certain much needed perspective – outside of yourself and your routine – but you can’t run away from yourself or your life… well… you can try… but it always chases you, hunts you down and forces you to face things.
Perhaps those things aren’t as bad as they seem, and even if they are, best to face them head on… then maybe you can pass through them, pass through the in between and find out what lies on the other side.
Such is life… a mix of mixed messages both good, bad and many shades in between…
The adventure continues….
What uniform can I wear to hide my heavy heart?
It is too heavy.
It will always show.
Jacques felt himself growing gloomy again.
He was well aware that to live on earth a man must follow its fashions, and hearts were no longer worn.