I am battling two very different ideologies at the moment. One is of mediocrity. The other, Martha Stewart. Let me explain.
After dad stopped breathing. After the house was swarming with cops and ambulence people fighting to get into his room, hooking him up to tubes and shocking him with paddles. After the dogs continued to bark and mom and I crying hysterically on the floor in the kitchen. After all that was an image I will keep with me for the rest of my life. Dad, my dad, the guy with a tan and a ready smile, the guy who worked two jobs and 14 hour days, who paid my health insurance and cooked meals from scratch, the man who worried, all the time, about all sorts of things, that could go wrong might go wrong, afraid of some terrible tragedy and then what would happen then how would we all live then! Dad, laying on a guerney, little gray underwear, not tighties but not boxers, the cool in between kind, no shirt, breathing apparatus over his face. Lifeless and laying there in the early morning.
"He has a pulse. We don't want to get your hopes up but we are taking him to Robert Wood Johnson. If anyone can get a heart going again they can."
But they were in no rush to get him into the ambulance. Through my wet red eyes I think I remember them, chatting, laughing, not at him of course, of life things, their lives. He had a slight pulse but no breath, no heart beat, for a good ten minutes. They knew he wasn't coming back. There was no rush or immediacy. They were taking him in but it was a formality.
So all of the worrying he did, all the arguing, all the FEAR he had in life, this is what it submised to. Ended up as. Laying on a gurney, in the morning, in his underwear. All the worrying about would he make enough money, would we all be okay, would he be ok. In the end, it was meaningless. Whether you are a king or a homeless guy, you end up the same. yes what you do matters, you can change other peoples lives. But somewhere, I guess I blame MTV and the 80s, I was told that you had to have A BIG LIFE. Go on tour, have a mansion, break hotel room furniture. Get somewhere. Be someone.
Which is why Mediocrity is interesting to me. It is being common. Mundane. Grocery shopping. Everything I managed to avoid for most of my life. It felt like death to me.
I strive. You know? San Diego was bad for me because everyone else was striving too. Everyone jogs or rides a bike. 80% of them even wear professional bike clothing. And they dont just jog they are pushing a kid in a stroller and walking the dog at the same time. yes they are enjoying the air. Yes its good to be outside. But this activity is like a fkg job. And they do it looking cute in a cute ponytail. They do it so they look perfect like everyone else because life is easier when you look perfect. When you have it all together. When you think you are in control.
but you are never in control.
I admit when I got off the plane into jersey and went to a supermarket and saw fat people with imperfect hair, I felt pretty. Not better than anyone, just not any worse. I felt common. Human. Not invincible. Not perfect. And this is comforting. It is exhausting trying to eat right, think right, say the right things, exercise enough, be creative enough, be neat enough, nice enough, interesting enough. Patient. Charming. Pretty.
I am all of these things, but not all at the same time.
This is where Martha comes in. Martha is anything but ordinary. And by ordinary I guess it depends upon the standard you are comparing to but in any culture knowing exactly when you are going to season your cast iron pans and when to have the lawn mowers serviced along with everything else we have to do in the modern life, that sort of on top of things is certainly not what most people do. Most of us are eating cheerios out of the box standing over the sink.
But this is why I love the Cult of Martha and want to embrace it. Martha will get me through my grief! Martha's mindful attention to the mundane of things, celebrates them. yes Tyler Durden, the ship is going down and Martha is polishing the brass. It is precisely that loving attention I am talking about. She is not polishing it because she's afraid not to, she is doing it because brass looks beautiful polished, and she likes to look at beautiful things. In the ideal martha world there is no rushing. Lots gets done and there is time for it all. Slowly. Methodically. Mindfully, we take care of our world.
During the last week of dads life we didn't talk much because I was busy. I thought there would be more time. So did he. I don't want to save it for the future anymore. I want to appreciate the now.