Thursday, November 24, 2016

California Dreamin

California is home for me, I have traveled her roads for decades, and fallen for her arrogant elegance. The shape of her body bent, like the joint of an elbow, resting on an easy chair. California is hip, she's got ocean front, and laden with fleshy produce. I'm in my autumn years so I've adopted the fall as my own. The weather outside is crisp and cool, which makes me grateful for the intermittent presence of the sun. It must be the bright illumination juxtaposed against the dullness of the season that draws me into a reflective pose (a nice way to say I'm post menopausal and no longer watch what I say)  I love to sit in the fall, perched on the edge of a hearth, gentle fire warming my back, staring out the window of life. I’m enamored with the glory of the season, with the prospect of multiple celebrations, and universal good cheer.

I have a comfortable lifestyle, when held up to the deficiencies in the world, I live like a queen (of a small country), without the help, trust fund, or press secretary. This year you can't help but notice the widespread suffering in the world, whether self inflected, or structurally inescapable. How do we render this situation? I feel impotent when confronted with the enormity of it all, the prospect of real change fills me with a corrosive fear, which hinders my ability to move. I'm always trying to find my way back, back to a childhood I've no doubt idealized in my mind, to a time when the vulgarities of the world seem distant and vague. Now they're splashed across a forty-two inch screen, in high definition, and my parents no longer shield me from the R-rated stuff. As a responsible adult, I've decided I have two options (keep it simple), I either act out of love, or I act out of fear. This much I control. I'll admit it's a challenge to respond from a place of love all the time, even part of the time, but this is my California Dreamin.

In my narrow little world I'm currently pummeled by seasonal distractions. Acts of love seem at time impossible. It’s the end of the semester. There are projects, papers, and presentations to grade. I have to meet with disgruntled parents, wrestle missing work from half my students, and post grades. On the home front there is food shopping with lines as long as airport security, the unachievable Martha Stewart table, the oversized bird in an undersized oven, lumpy gravy, and the inescapable fact I'll run out of butter in the middle of dinner. If I gave all my students A's, used paper plates, and served Kentucky Fried Chicken I could be as loving as my husband, who's enjoying a cold one, and watching the game. It is much more likely I'll loose it just before the first guest arrives, somehow scrap myself together, slice up the bird, whine about the dishes, and wake up five pounds heavier. But is there another way?
"The more things change, the more they remain the same." Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr

California is where I was born but Hollywood, Silicon Valley,  Disneyland, and Napa Wines also claim birthrights. I remember listening to a final interview with Steve Jobs of Apple Computer. He was an extreme sort of guy and I was always intrigued by his creativity. He seemed obsessed with work, perfectionism, but he changed the world with his unique vision. At the end of his life when considering death he said, “What I can bring is only the memories precipitated by love.” I don’t know if he really thought he would be able to access his memories after death, but clearly in life, he thought this important enough to mention. If nothing remains but our acts of love what a world it would be. Maybe this year I'll solicit some masculine help in the kitchen, enjoy a cold one by the fire, and forget the idea of a perfect table. This is my California dreamin. Happy Thanksgiving all and may our love reign.

There's more to enjoy at Living in the Gap, come on by.


Carrie Beckort said...

I tried to leave a comment earlier, but my Internet crashed. Anyway, great post as usual! It's so hard to let go of the things we 'should be doing'. I started letting some things go a few years ago out of self-preservation. Stress was too high and things just had to get dropped. I'm so much happier for it. It still takes some effort to let go sometimes, or to not make an excuse for when I do, but it's a work in progress. Just keep dreaming and hopefully you'll get there!

Cheryl Oreglia said...

Thank you for your thoughtful comment Carrie, I appreciate that I'm not alone in my struggle to avoid the "shoulds." I am so much happier too! Let's not regress when we celebrate the birth of the savior next month.

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