Sarah Rosemary at Sunny Side Up and I are hosting our own Reverb11, a series of prompts to look back on 2011 and manifest the new year. Please check our Reverb11 pages for details, and join in!
Prompt for December 24: Ah ha: What deep thought struck you this year? How did it change you?
My father is a huge Three Stooges fan. I am not. In fact, no one else in our family is, so you can only imagine how annoying it was when he’d reenact Three Stooges routines (which was always a challenge, because he’d have to play all three of them himself).
Every time I think “Ah ha!” I can’t help but think this:
Not that I’m looking for meaning in the Three Stooges, but there are a number of take-aways from this clip. One, Levi-Strauss may have been right — in an encounter between two cultures, you have to find the right distance in order to get to know each other (because, as in this example, if you are too close, or want too much, you might otherwise be deceived). Two, everyone’s in it for themselves and you have to find the right people to talk nonsense with to help you properly achieve your goals. Three, never underestimate the power of silly hats.
(Yup. I just discussed Levi-Strauss and the Three Stooges in the same paragraph.)
This year was all decisions, lessons, moments. Ah ha moments. Encounters between cultures — cultures being nations, genders, religions. Silly hats.
In my family, we’re quite keen on silly hats.
I keep going back to this idea of looking silly; looking stupid. I hate looking stupid. I detest not having the answers; not being prepared. I’m the woman people come to precisely because I have odd pieces of servingware. I have one of those cow-shaped creamers. I own porcelain name plates for dinner parties. I possess more cheese knives than any human being should, but hey, we eat a LOT of cheese in this house.
I suppose nobody likes looking stupid. I feel like I try to preempt it more than most.
This year took me by surprise. May and September both took my breath away — first with making out-of-character decisions that put the second half on the year on a path I didn’t expect, and then with being willingly being pulled into an entirely different orbit. In both instances, I had (and have) absolutely no answers.
There have been times when I’m pretty sure I’ve looked pretty dumb; when I’ve said things I regret. When I have and haven’t done things I wish I had or hadn’t.
But the ah ha moment came when I someone said that it wasn’t my sole responsibility to handle these things. That my marriage hadn’t been my sole responsibility either. Nor, I suppose, had been my relationship with Bill, or any of these other things for which I’d tasked myself with carrying all the weight and later blamed myself when it blew up in my face.
I cling, and I claw. Sometimes I don’t find the right distance, and I think I look ridiculous. I talk nonsense and I’m not sure I’m always saying these unintelligible things to the people speaking the same strange tongue. I’m wearing a lot of hats, and I don’t always look good in them. I hate not looking good. I loathe not making sense. I’m uncomfortable being too close, or too far away.
But the point is, it’s not a competition to see who can keep the most or least distance, or who can make the most sense. It’s not about wearing the least silly hat.
I’m here to look stupid, folks. I’m here to wear matching shirts with my family, and to put ridiculous things on my head, and to take chances I never thought I’d take, and to wait in extremely uncomfortable moments with the people I love.