Someone I respect once told me that I was cursed by my need to see the whole picture. It was during my counseling training, and he was the psychologist overseeing my fieldwork: “It can freeze you into inertia – because you know you can’t possibly deal with everything. Or make you completely crazy because you will be running around trying to tamp out fires before they start – and nobody will know what the hell you are up to. You don’t need to know it all. If you are going to stay sane… you best figure a middle path. And, you know, get out more.”
Finding my middle path has involved learning to shrug and reminding myself that sometimes “it just is what it is”. I watch less TV, avoid violent or desperate movies, finish only books that intrigue me, listen to music that feels familiar, stay clear of assholes. And, when faced with idiots, I try to remind myself: “nie moj cyrk, nie moje malpy”*.
All in all: I care about less but I am not careless.
I haven’t lapsed into complacency though, every now and then I screw with my newfound equanimity and tempt the fates. This week I took a facebook quiz (yes!!) that promised to reveal my true age. I always try to answer the questions honestly and with an open heart. I like to bore people with my theory on cheating – whether in examinations, business or as an athlete: you will always know it wasn’t you. That you weren’t the best. So why bother?
The quiz asked:
what do you like to do in your spare time (read)
do you have a pet (yes)
what is you preferred flavour of ice cream (chocolate)
do you remember this (TV test pattern – yes)
or these (caramel boiled sweets – yes)
or him (David Cassidy – yes )
which superhero would you be (Captain America – oh I don’t know why – there weren’t any female options).
Which left me wondering: what the hell algorithm they were using to make their deductions? It all sounded a bit silly to me (go figure). But, I’d started, so I would finish. Another motto that’s occasionally made my life tricky.
As it turns out: I am really 62 – a bit of a shock, to be honest. I was expecting 42 – tops. But there was more – a qualification: “You are a loving, mature and open person. You love to help others, enjoy the comfort of your lifestyle and party a little (as long as you are home by 7 pm”)
So far so Barbara Bush, but – I yam what I yam, I suppose. The brackets I take issue with – I can party all the way until 9.30pm. At which point I like to go home, have a bath, make a cup of tea and read … Oh, ok – smart Alec code writers, you win. You got me nailed.
Sometimes I also noodle around on the internet – checking what the celebs are up to. In my second off-piste excursion of the week. I ventured into the Pandora’s box that is the Daily Mail where I discovered a story called “Squishing Nemo”. That striped fish is a hero of the Nans … and I love finding weird and wonderful facts about the world which I drop casually into conversation with them, prefaced by “when I was in the Secret Service …”. So, I clicked the link.
Turns out that two 17-year-old Cape Town schoolgirls have become internet sensations through a pornie (the nookie version of a selfie) which has brought them international fame, but alas no fortune. Their appearance fee was a mere R1500 each ($150). Sex, film, money, disappointment: nothing new in any of that.
What was new (at least to me) was what they did in the video. It seems that one of the girls (who goes by the street moniker ‘London’), crushed goldfish to death under her heels while she gave oral sex to a (unknown) man. Her friend (pornstar name undeclared) stood around giggling and provided the fish. They were wearing their school uniforms. The school is round the corner from me.
I won’t be sharing this one with the kids. The man was right: I don’t need to know everything. And neither do the Nans. If being a 62-year-old old-fart has taught me anything; it’s that once you have learned something, you can’t unlearn it. And god knows no-one needs any image of Nemo; but him swimming to freedom with Dory at his side.
So from today I’ll be narrowing down my world even further. No more forays into the Daily Mail. No more internet wanderings for me. This may not be my circus, but they are somebody’s daughters. And one way or another, we’ve allowed the internet to make monkeys of us all.
It is definitely time to get out more.
(An Old Polish proverb taught to me many decades ago by a nice Polish R.E.M. fan. It translates as: Not My Circus, Not my Monkeys. He wasn’t referring to the band. All Images found uncredited in the public domain.)