Thursday, February 26, 2015

Buddha and the "Selfie"

Ah, the reviled "Selfie".  Some psychologists say the growing trend of taking smartphone selfies is linked to mental health conditions that focus on a person's obsession with looks. Researchers at Western Illinois University studied the Facebook habits of 294 students, aged between 18 and 65, and measured two "socially disruptive" elements of narcissism – grandiose exhibitionism (GE) and entitlement/ exploitiveness (EE). GE includes ''self-absorption, vanity, superiority, and exhibitionistic tendencies". People who score high on this aspect of narcissism need to be constantly at the centre of attention. Hence the constant selfies.  

In common parlance this is referred to as "orbiting one's own navel" and the intent is to pull others into the whirlpool. As much as you might love the person who posts the thrice daily selfie, or constantly revolves profile pictures from 20, 30, 40 years ago,  you can't force yourself to "like" them, or to join the chorus of "Wow", "Beautiful", "Stunning" and "Dream Girl!" especially when the selfies capture staged sullen, morose, depressing, 'I'm-thinking-throwing-myself-under-a-bus' expressions.  

There are days when a selfie of "Inner Me" would fry the pixels on your tablet, Poppet. But I am not sharing. Those are my moments and I am not inflicting them on you. In fact I am doing exactly the opposite. Sharon Salzberg explained it well. 
“We look at the Buddha to see ourselves. And we look at ourselves, not to see ourselves as separate and more wonderful than anybody else, [laughs] but we look at ourselves and basically see everybody.” 

Buddha wasn't a god. He wasn't fathered by any divine spirit. He was a man whose heart was broken when he realized that all of us, you, me, him, his wife and his newborn son would all suffer sickness, pain, sorrow, loss and ultimately death. 

He spent years seeking a cure for being human, only to learn there is none. We look at him, knowing that we too may seek miracles and wonders and cures for our humanity, but even though he reached enlightenment he died, as we will. His last words to his disciples were something like,  "Everything is subject to decay, continue to work with diligence." Even if we follow his teachings we have no illusions. None of us escape this world alive, but we can learn to cope.  That was his message. 

So having the faith we can do that we look at ourselves, not circling our own navels, like water around a drain, but in love. The first person we must learn to love, really love, and really accept, is ourselves. Not just at the way we look but at the broken heart inside, whatever it is and however it was caused. Not enough love, the pain of abuse or neglect, our prejudices, our tempers, our fears, our greed and selfishness, our never-good-enough-ness. (is that a word?)  

And when we really see and admit what lives within us, we see our anger is the same anger as that of the man who gives us the finger and cuts us off in traffic, our fear when the police car turns on his lights behind us a tiny taste of the fear the refugee feels, the need for a hour's forgetting that alcohol or drugs give the addict who grew up in an abusive home is one we all understand, even if it's just a ratty day at the office we're trying to escape when we grab a beer and the remote. You hear in others' prejudice not just hate - but fear. 

And in seeing recognizing and forgiving these in yourself compassion begins, for yourself and others. You learn to live without the need for so much affirmation from others. You aren't so needy. However we will not urge our views on others, for not all are willing to examine themselves and few have time or interest in looking into the Buddha-mirror. 

Not all are grateful for a map to an inner road, to a path untrod. Much easier to go post a selfie.  (If you know me in person you know how extremely difficult this is. I don't think there's another photo of me on here in my nine years of blogging.)


Sunday, February 15, 2015

What Not to Wear After 50

Alright Darlings, I'm doing something I hardly ever do, and that's reposting someone else's post, but only because it's brilliant and funny (which I'd love to be but aren't). If you don't believe I'm capable of such chicanery you're dead wrong. I can prove it by pointing to the original article here written by Michelle Combs who blogs at Rubber Shoes in Hell .

Honestly, I've been thinking about how to solve my wardrobe problem by buying a bale of burlap bags, and a spool of yellow polypropylene rope to use as belts but burlap is itchy as hell and that rope is made of oil which makes my eco-consciousness twitch like an eel on a harpoon, so I'm still dithering. I saw a 
dove-grey cashmere cardigan I liked at the upscale mall we visited on my birthday. It cost more than my entire wardrobe budget for the year. No doubt I'd look stunning in it but eyes would still pop at the Sobeys when I walked in wearing it, naked from the hipbones down because I didn't have enough $ left over to buy a three-pack of bloomers at the WalMart. Decisions decisions. 

Here's Michelle's advice for women over 50.

Google “what not to wear after age 50″ and you will have your pick of thousands of articles telling you what looks terrible on your old ass body. I want to point out to the writer who wrote the ‘No-No’ article, you need to remember you are writing for over 50 women, not preschoolers. I don’t think I’ve said “No-No” since my youngest was a toddler. We could spend hours studying the clothes we shouldn’t wear and the slang we shouldn’t use and the makeup techniques we need to retire.

Here’s me, weighing in on this topic.

You are over 50 for f%&k’s sake. Wear whatever you want. If you’ve made it to 50 and still need to consult articles on how to dress appropriately then you are so missing out on one of the best things about being over 50. One of the best things about getting older is realizing that we don’t have to spend our energy worrying what other people think and we get to be comfortable in our own skin with our own freak flags.

Still, there are a few things that women over 50 really shouldn’t wear:

The weight of the world. When you wear the weight of the world on your shoulders, you age. If you like the feel of the world’s weight and don’t want to give it up, then try scaling back a bit. Perhaps just wear the weight of a few of the smaller continents. For instance, I am only wearing the weight of Australia and a made up country called “Michelloponia”. I think it they have a slimming effect.

Shame and regret. So few people can carry this look off. Most of us just end up looking haunted or like we were forced to eat liver and onions. Shame and regret are especially hard to wear after fifty. Wearing shame and regret past fifty is one of those things that make your eyes all red and runny looking. The downward spiral just snowballs from there. Once the eyes get old lady looking, then you have to re-evaluate the wisdom of black eye liner. I say give up wearing shame and regret and fuck giving up on black eye liner.

Rose colored glasses. Oh, sweetheart, you know who you are. Those glasses do nothing for you. Not only do they make you look like you’ve been smoking weed for days, they also keep you from examining life and your surroundings realistically. Yes, reality sucks, but by the time we hit fifty, we need to suck it up, take those glasses off and dick punch reality into submission. Or just get some really big dark sunglasses instead. They cover all manner of sins.

Stiff upper lip. There is a time and a place for the stiff upper lip, but damn, it can’t be worn all the time. Too much stiff upper lip causes those funky vertical

lines between your upper lip and your nose holes. We don’t always have to be stoic. I’m not suggesting that you wear your heart on your sleeve, but that is a much softer look than wearing a stiff upper lip.

Too many hats. Personally, I can’t pull off wearing one hat much less many hats. I don’t have a hat head. My hair poofs out and my ears look like car doors when I wear a hat. Wearing too many hats just exacerbates these issues. When you wear too many hats, it’s easy to forget which hat you’re wearing. For instance, are you wearing the ‘no nonsense corporate’ hat when you meant to wear your ‘quirky and kicked back’ hat? We’re not getting any younger, you know. Sooner or later you’re going to accidentally wear your court jester hat to the gynecologist and then where will you be? I’ll tell you where you’ll be. You’ll be in an undignified position and wearing a stupid hat is where you’ll be. [Note:] I disagree. I know many older women who look smashing in a hat, not that I'm one of them, but then I look foolish in ruffles and flowery things, so you have to leave room for individual style. 

Resting bitch face. Hahahaha. Just kidding. Wear that one all you want.Although, it wouldn’t hurt if every once in a while, you had a welcoming and kind look on your face. At least that’s what I hear from other people. There isn’t anything wrong with getting advice about updating your look or what to wear, but we are just inundated with that shit, aren’t we? Who says what is appropriate? 

From where I sit, it seems ‘appropriate’ changes based on geography, social status, income and size. After a while, the advice becomes a confusing blur. I think I’ll just keep wearing my Keds and jeans and black tee shirts.

Oh, I do have one real tip. Stop wearing theme clothes. Seriously.
Michelle Combs