Who Knows

How different this new life is, compared to what I thought it would be at this point in my life, compared to what it was last spring. I thought I was in a relatively happy, even if financially restricted, retirement, living in a place I find pleasant, living with someone who I loved and who loved me. Although our circumstances were decidedly modest, I felt the important things in life were covered. Was it a dream? It was a nice dream, if it was a dream. Maybe it was real though, real with an unexpected expiration date. Of course, everything alive has an expiration date. This particular one was not the one written on the package, it came much earlier.

The holding pattern with Attila is, well, it is holding. For the most part the time passes pleasantly. The future is unknown, uncertain, unpredictable. The grieving process is ongoing, which is only natural, but I now have short periods of significant respite from the pain. The one true thing is still the one true thing, I am living with a man who does not want to be in a married relationship with me. There is no question that we care for one another. Other truths have not emerged. In time they probably will, it is a matter of letting things take their natural course. Patience is a necessity. This situation uses up most of my stores of patience.

The weekend was cold! It is cold out there this morning too. I found no place I wanted to go alone this past weekend. Attila says he is too worn out from the daily grind of his job to want to go out, except on very rare occasions, except to shop for food at bargain prices. He loves to eat, he loves to shop for the food he eats. I usually do this with him, as it is an opportunity to walk around in the store for half an hour or more, exercise, and limited social contact. Since I don’t eat much, and can’t eat most of the food in the stores, it isn’t an activity that inspires any joy. Other activities will have to be ones I attend by myself. I am working on that.

I filled the weekend with my projects, and with the baking of bread and muffins. On Saturday night Attila and I made a homemade pizza, and watched a movie, which is always a treat. Less and less often do we eat the same foods, at the same time. Surprisingly, this has led to a significant reduction in domestic tension. My dietary restrictions are difficult for me to bear with good grace, but I have no choice. Attila has a choice, and he has made it.

The world is full of hints of spring! Every day I find all kinds of bugs in the house. Asian beetles, house flies, wasps, Western Conifer Seed Bugs, they enter around the living room window, and other locations, and I find them all over the house. I don’t believe in escorting insects to the out of doors, if they have entered my home, they are unwelcome invaders, and they are quickly dispatched and disposed of. This is a spring ritual here at Mist Cottage. At the country house it was a completely different array of insects that made spring weather interesting.

The snow is gone, although a few small patches remain in shaded areas of the remaining bush behind the house. The imminent destruction of those trees is nigh, by next March there will be a hive of rental units where there were once tall and majestic trees.

My second crochet blanket is coming along slowly. I have been enjoying working a few rows on it, during the day. The rhythm of the hook and yarn is comforting, grounding, and totally within my control. It feels good to have control over something.

The book Kristin Lavransdatter is another source of enjoyment. I like to read books slowly, coming back to them over and over again, sitting down to have a cup of tea with them. Almost like having a chat with a friend. Although, admittedly, they aren’t good listeners.

At my last Tai Chi class, it was suggested to me that Tai Chi “wasn’t for me”.

The beginners lesson had gone well for me, as far as I was concerned. There was a move taught that involved the turning of the foot, in a way that looked like it would hurt my knee. I didn’t do that move, but stopped and resumed when the action returned to the doable. That odd turn of the foot can be accommodated eventually, but the move will need to be carefully orchestrated to avoid injury. I have the first five moves comfortably learned. The beginners class has moved way beyond those first five moves, and I have not progressed with the class. This doesn’t worry me in the slightest. I follow along with whatever is being taught in the beginners class, knowing that any practise is good, even if I don’t remember any of what has been taught. What I do has no effect on anyone else, the classes proceed at the prescribed pace, the other people in the class proceed at the prescribed pace, I proceed at my pace.

Apparently the issue is when the whole group, including the beginners, gathers to do the routine, when it becomes glaringly obvious I have not learned more than five moves. I imitate, sometimes successfully, what I see around me, and when I cannot, or the moves seem beyond my knee, I just stop and watch until something familiar comes up, then I start again. This works well for me.

During the last Tai Chi lesson I attended, during the whole group session, I became tired, after an hour and half on my feet, doing things that I found challenging, and decided to wait it out in the wings. I moved to the side of the gym and stood quietly and contentedly watching the others. One woman looked over at me, she seemed concerned, she seemed upset, I smiled and nodded that I was OK. The leader came across the gym to talk with me, I explained that I was a slow learner, and watching was helpful; she seemed content with that, made her way back across the gym, and carried on with the group. However, another older woman, so far it has been older women who target me, came over to give “advice” at the end of the session. She suggested to me that Tai Chi was not for me.

I was enjoying the whole thing until that point. But really, what is it with these Tai Chi gals of a certain age, why are their knickers getting into such a twist over a little bit of unobtrusive variance. I go to Tai Chi to be active, relax, and learn. It is not an olympic sport, and it is advertised as offering health benefits. They sure aren’t meeting that goal in the realm of mental health!!! It is not something I feel I have to pick up at all costs, or on a particular schedule. It certainly isn’t very relaxing, feeling all this pressure to learn in a certain way, and perform to certain standards on schedule. It is only a few individuals applying all the pressure, but they seem relentless in their quest. It only takes one rotten apple, as they say.

The pressure to conform seems ever present in “clubs”. There are types of conformity that bring pleasure, psychic comfort, safety, and a whole variety of other positive social benefits. There are also types of conformity that hobble, reduce, impede, and generally interfere with the natural flow of human social interactions. My Tai Chi class embodies both, an interesting mix. Perhaps over time, the busy little Tai Chi “social engineers” who plague me will cease to register with me, even as an annoyance.

Well, my first forays into the wide world have not been unmitigated successes. I am batting 0. What I have gained through these explorations is an increased confidence in getting out there on my own. I am also getting used to being out of my comfort zone. Back to the drawing board, as they say. The spring should bring a whole new array of opportunities, so who knows what lies ahead.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

Sunny
-12°C
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Monday 19 March 2018
Condition: Sunny
Pressure: 102.1 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -9.2°C
Dew point: -20.6°C
Humidity: 39%
Wind: N 16 km/h
Wind Chill: -18
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“On October 20, 1949 the Hollywood columnist Erskine Johnson published the tale. This is the earliest instance located by QI:

Groucho Marx’s letter of resignation to the Friars’ Club: “I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members.”

On October 13, 1951 the only son of Groucho, Arthur Marx, published a version of the anecdote in Collier’s Magazine. This is the earliest variant by a close family member with intimate knowledge of Groucho. Over the years Arthur Marx recounted different narratives of this episode, and some will be presented further below. In 1951 he said that Groucho joined the Friars Club at the insistence of friends, but he did not participate. So Groucho sent in a letter of resignation:

In the next mail, he received a letter from the club’s president, wanting to know why he had resigned. My father promptly wrote back, “Because I don’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member!”…
Source: https://quoteinvestigator.com/2011/04/18/groucho-resigns/

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10 Responses to Who Knows

  1. Out here we’ve a housefly invasion; they get the flyswatter, not an escort! Poor things. I’ve yet to develop an affection for the wee creatures. I’m much kinder to others: moths, wasps, bees, beetles. Maybe because flies are more difficult to catch and there are more of them. Mosquitoes also: no compassion here. Haven’t seen one of those yet but Scott said someone told him wood ticks are out already! Hardly possible with all this snow remaining, but … I saw a fly outside the other day, so why not?

    Do you think it possible that the “maybe not for you” lady was trying to give you a guilt-free “out” in case you were feeling pressured to continue (as opposed to really wanting to)? At our house, we so often misinterpret each other’s meaning and intent that it’s quite discombobulating. And oh, the resentment it has caused! Lately we’ve caught it immediately a couple times, and what an eye-opener that’s been for us both.

    Example:

    Dog wakes Scott at 12:30 a.m. to let him out. Next morning:
    Scott to me: I bet you just went to bed.
    My interpretation: You went to bed without letting the dog out first.
    His meaning: You went to bed late.

    Now if we could just learn to give each other the benefit of the doubt!

    But that’s in my world, not necessarily yours.

    -Kate

  2. Kate! Houseflies are just starting here. And mosquitoes! That doesn’t seem fair at all. There are mosquitoes here at Mist Cottage, but nothing like, nothing at all like, they were at the country house. I don’t feel for any of the insects that come into the house, and I am particularly incensed by wasps, nasty little stingers!

    I agree with you, that there is room for misinterpretation. I keep going back, and if there has been a misinterpretation, then the incidences will decrease over time, since, if it is just a friendly sharing, or a benign comment, it won’t be a persistent thing. What is consistent is being approached, now by three different older women, to receive offered “advice”, always pointing out what I am doing wrong. Personally, I thrive on being told what I am doing right. I’ve responded to their concern, enlightening them on my perspective on the process of my own learning, so we will see how it goes as things evolve. So far I have been responding with great politeness, patience, and tolerance, assuming the input was well meant. There is a limit to that, and I hope they don’t bump into it.

    The other thing is, when you are visibly different, as I am with arm and knee brace, you are an automatic target for busy bodies, who embody the saying “helping is the sunny side of control”. Assuming I am substandard, then helping me out, out of the goodness of the heart, does not win points with me.

  3. Eileen says:

    At this point I would just tell those busybodies to mind their own business. If they were really being helpful they would offer to help you learn some of the moves after class for a bit. There always seems to be at least one in a group who feels the need to lord it over someone else. Sometimes you just need to be blunt and to the point with them.

  4. Eileen, I think you are right, I’ve erred on the side of caution, and if I am wrong about these gals, then I will find out, and if my negative feelings about the ministrations are well founded, then I will have to ask them to stop “helping” me. They are making a wide berth around the lady who is further behind than I am, she wears a sari, English is not her first language… I’m watching them.

  5. Teri says:

    Following in Kate and Eileen’s path, perhaps it would be a good idea to ask one of them to help you after class. Better to practice and in that show and talk to them about your limitations and your hopes for the class and yourself. Tell them how much you enjoy the tai chi.

    If they know you enjoy the activity, the time spent, and the company (for the most part) they may be less likely to suggest tai chi isn’t for you.

  6. Teri, there are very positive people there, I could ask one of them for help, if I felt I needed help. I don’t need help.

  7. Teri says:

    It was more of a suggestion to open up to someone, Maggie. You know you and how your body works. I was hoping you’d be open to including someone, letting them learn about you, your needs, how you have to work with things.

    I’d hate to see you lose something you enjoy because of building negativity that could be turned with just a little mutual sharing and understanding.

  8. “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”

    C. S. Lewis
    1898 – 1963

    I am not a willing victim.

  9. Sandy says:

    I’m in Eileen’s camp on this one. These older woman sound like geriatric bullies who want everyone to march in lockstep at the same pace. It’s not competitive Tai Chi. It’s Tai Chi for fun and relaxation! It is also not their place to tell anyone that maybe Tai Chi is not for someone else. That is beyond rude. I see a couple of options:
    1. Smile and ignore them and keep on with the class. A part of this would be to gravitate more toward the friendly people.
    2. If another cranky pants approaches you in the same way, ask her if she has a problem with people learning at a different pace. If so, suggest that the two of you talk to the teacher together, as you feel that’s an unwelcoming attitude. She’ll most likely back off.
    3. A variation on #2 is to tell cranky pants you go at your own pace, enjoy the class, and any suggestion Tai Chi is not for you is ridiculous and rude.

    All my other suggestions involve profanity which is probably not productive. But if these women are indeed, in any way, bullies in general, they would deserve it.

    I know you can take care of yourself. I worry about the lady in the sari. She may be their next target.

  10. Good suggestions Eileen, right along my own line of thought. I am waiting for a repeat performance from one of them, or perhaps even a third attempt by one of them, that is when I’ll put my oar in the water. I go by the rule of three usually, to avoid miscommunication. Once, benefit of the doubt. Twice, well, what have we here. Thrice, well, this is what I’m dealing with. Then fourth… deal with it.

    I do worry about the lady in the sari, she is very friendly, and seems very alone there. I had a nice chat with her at the end of the class, while she was waiting for her ride to show up. I think they might avoid her, because racism is such a current issue that there is risk involved in targettting her. I hope that works for her. So far she is just ignored.