Special Sauce

“You are my friend; you are special. You are my friend; you’re special to me. There’s no one else who is like you; like you, my friend, I like you.” Fred Rogers

 Once in a lunar cycle, I am visited by a rather gloomy faerie who insists on blowing her pixie dust into my brain. It settles into folds of gray cells and blooms into spores that cause self-doubt and self-pity. I begin to feel fragile and overwhelmed and retreat into my cave to fight the infection. An outbreak of insecurities spreads like a rash across my self-esteem, starting with the Redundancy Insecurity. I remember that I am daughter number four: the youngest, the last in the parade, the one who will always straggle behind. Not only am I superfluous, I will never catch up to the others; I am not strong enough or smart enough or skilled enough to do what they can do. If there’s anything you want in a little girl, one of the others will be a better choice. Unless, of course, what you want is small and blonde and cute. I figured I won that category. Now that I’m over 50, though, that’s a remote psychological win. I am still convinced of being not good enough to this day, but I am no longer convinced of being smallest/blondest/cutest.

 The next bump in the rash is the Unfavored Insecurity. We all know that sibling order can easily be trumped by favoritism. That story comes to us from the Bible itself. So the burning question of self-assessment is, “Am I the Favorite?” Your siblings will, of course, tell you that Mom always liked them best. Your parents will tell you that they don’t have a favorite. You will tell yourself in oscillating fashion that you might be, or might not be, the favorite. You will perhaps try to be the favorite by being compliant and charming and dutiful. Then one day, you will wonder if you have a personality at all and come face to face with the Invisible Insecurity. Yearbook pages flip by your memory, and you can’t recall yourself. There are hardly any photos of you in the family album. (Rationally, couldn’t that be because you were taking these pictures? At a pity party, rationality isn’t invited.) Other people seem to look right through you or past you. Your phone doesn’t ring for weeks at a time. You feel forgotten, insignificant, unloved.

 A fine basis for becoming a writer. I will write so that others will notice me. I will be appreciated. I will be esteemed. I will be SPECIAL. I will have readers who wait to get my next installment, who are curious about my thoughts on every subject, who want only to bask in my presence and demand nothing from me save that which I deign to pen. I will not have to research or refine my essays. I will simply share as much or as little as I like.

 I am delusional. I am neurotic. I keep writing. Could I perhaps be refreshingly candid and honest? Could I perhaps be sincere? Would that make me special?

 What a game I’m playing. I look hard at myself, quivering in this crazy cave. I listen to myself. Compassion arises. I am myself. No one else is. Here I am, being. Being me. I’m the only one who gets this job. I want to do my best at it, no matter what that looks like. Sometimes it looks pretty pitiful. And that’s me doing my best at being me in this mood. The “I’m not special” mood.

 I’m not looking for someone to contradict me or rescue me. I’m just looking at me and daring myself to love me or at least befriend me and for heaven’s sake, stop beating up on me.

 That is all.

© 2014 essay by Priscilla Galasso, All rights reserved

Writer’s Fourth Wednesday: Verbs

The Bardo Group, a blogazine that counts me as one of its core contributors, has invited me to participate in a writing exercise.  The prompt explains that God is a Verb and so are we and encourages me to consider the use of verbs in my work.  I am thrilled by this idea!  Let me tell you why: I love the philosophy that action is our essence.  We are not concepts, we are acting, living creatures.  I am not Priscilla; I am Priscilla-ing.  I first heard this idea from Alan Watts.  Here is a charming animated video in which he explains how the Earth is People-ing.

Victoria Slotto, our writing prompt author, notes how the Judeo-Christian story gives words the power of creation and life.  God spake and the Universe came into being; the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  I remember listening with fascination to a Biblical scholar, Vickie Garvey, explain the Hebrew verb for God’s love for us.  ‘Chesed’ is often translated as loving-kindness.  (n.b. Victoria Slotto has corrected me: without looking up my notes, I cited the wrong word.  The word ‘rachamim’, compassion, is related to ‘rechem’, womb.) However, she discovered that it is closely related to the word for womb.  God ‘wombs’ us.  When I show compassion, I am ‘womb-ing’.  My mind and body both leaped for joy.  I know just what this means!  I have felt it!  

As co-creators — living, sentient beings (amid many others) — we know the joy of sending ripples of action skimming across the universe.  May our lives be, beget, generate, produce, compose, fashion, formulate, perform and work wonders!