12 March 2009

An incredible life

Some randomly recollected sayings about food, inspired by Michael Pollan's project:

Finish your plate; there are children starving in China/Ethiopia.

If it smells bad, it is bad.

Stepgrandma: If it tastes good, put soap on it.

And an influential song lyric: "Only two things money can't buy: true love and homegrown tomatoes!" -Guy Clark

Another memory: "Let go, let God."

We saw it on bumperstickers (the ones with iridescent-under-black "Easy Does It"), and we heard people say it. To my father, however, it was a complete abdication of all responsibility for one's own thoughts and decisions. To him it was Christians admitting what was wrong with their religion right up front.

It's only now that I can even perceive the alternative, which would be like resting your head on your own pillow at the end of the day: something you know you can relax and rely upon to hold you, to comfort you, to give you respite or renewal. It is only now that I can conceive of being able to rest one's concerns about whether there's a God, or a good, or an Allah or an other, much less exactly what they might be responsible. But Everything?! my mind protests. I don't understand!

Which I think is the point to which I always return. I don't understand. I can't. I'm too small, too imperfect. I can perfect myself/be perfected, which is why I keep getting up every day to see what I can get done today.

But there's still this reckoning I'm doing -- I find I'm having trouble getting on with it, wrapping up and letting go of the past. Have I come to use it as a crutch? The college friend I just found is a lawyer in Los Angeles, and the last place I saw her was in her incredibly old house she lived in with her housemates. I made the faux pas of wiping a floor spill with the kitchen sponge, which called attention to how impregnated with the wear of years that floor was. She had a complicated backstory too, but was on the Erin Brockovich track, uncovering the appallingly public health hazards of living in California's Central Valley (now common knowledge http://www.cababstractsplus.org/abstracts/Abstract.aspx?AcNo=19900500664 but she was one of those covering that story early on). Clearly she wouldn't be where she is if she'd leaned on a crutch, made her refrain, "Oh, how I've been wronged." She must have gone out and said, "I'm going to prove it to those idiots who didn't believe in me every day. I'm going to have an incredible life."

My kid has a great grasp of the existential already. About Webkinz, the popular stuffed animals that have online counterparts the kids can manipulate on the web, my daughter asked, "So if Webkinz are our pets, are we Webkinz' pets?"

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