Wednesday, February 27, 2008

It's All Relative

I woke up very early this morning with a million (ok, a half dozen) ideas swirling in my head for things to write about today and for days to come. A frustrating - and failed - attempt to put a ONE MILLION BLOGS FOR PEACE logo up, a broken tree branch, some emails and a cup of coffee later, I have misplaced all those lovely ideas that were passionately writing themselves while I was trying to sleep. Now that I need them again, where are they? Argh.

Luckily, I do remember a key word for one of them: Relative. I am cranky about this, though, because it was all written in my head and now I have to start over and it won't be nearly as good as what I think I already wrote while half asleep.

What I was thinking about is how much of life is about perspective and how our relationship and reaction changes depending on our circumstances.

One of the most interesting pieces of trivia I ever heard was that there's a "scientific" (mathematical?) reason why time seems to go faster as you get older. It's got something to do with the relative length of a year in comparison to your whole life span. When you are 1, a year is 100% of your life. When you are 60, it is 1/60th of your life, so it seems much shorter. This is a very badly written explanation. I am writing frustrated and that's never good. I think the idea makes a lot of sense. Whatever the reason, the years seem to be flying by, though, I can't always say the same for my days. That is probably a factor of solitude and boredom.

Another psychological oddity that I have become aware of over the past couple of years is our relative relationship to temperature. Trying to save money these days, I keep my thermostat at 60 for as much of the day as I can (until the icicles start forming on my nose). I'm kind of proud of how tough and brave I am for doing this, but then I was thinking one afternoon how odd it is that in Spring and Summer, 60 degrees seems like a wonderful gift in comparison to 80 or 90 degrees. How odd, that in winter 60 feels like a hardship and in summer a blessing. I'm sure there's some logical explanation, like the earth holds summer warmth, so 60 in summer is warmer than 60 in winter when the world is frozen. Still, 60 degrees is 60 degrees isn't it?

Of course speaking of relativity, I guess 60 degrees is "winter" weather for my family and friends in Arizona. Years ago when I lived in New York City, a friend of mine returned from volunteering in Somalia where she had become accustomed to living at 120 in the shade. August in New York is vile, humid and compares quite nicely with my idea of Hell, but there was Zandi, on a hot, humid 90 degree nightmare New York summer day, wearing a sweater!

Then there's age. I have a very keen memory of the first time I felt conscious of age. I was standing at a bus stop on the corner of First Avenue and 14th Street in NYC looking at the high school kids... and suddenly seeing them as "children." I was all of 23 or something. But suddenly I was really and truly and "adult." Now, of course, 30 year olds seem like children to me and anyone under 50 is "young." Thing is, I don't feel sixty. Well, not emotionally anyway. Emotionally I feel about six, maybe nine or ten on a good day. Physically, well, let's not talk about physically. When your legs don't work right, it can make you feel old even if you aren't.

But then relatively speaking, even though my legs don't work as I might wish them to, they still do let me hobble around, so even if they hurt a bit and move oddly, they get me from room to room and that's very nice of them. Compared to being in a wheel chair or bed ridden, my legs are pretty damned fine.

Which for some reason made me think about relative ideas of poverty. Technically, by American standards, I'm poor. I squeeze all my needs out of $14,000 in SSD money. I won't say that I don't really, really, really want to win $10,000,000 from Publisher's Clearinghouse because I really, really, really do (actually I would quite happily take even $100,000 or $10,0000 ) BUT.... my poverty is pretty darn genteel. The bank is slowly selling me my house. I have heat in winter, water to drink, enough food to eat, a comfortable bed and two kitty companions. I have a TV (old but still functioning), A VCR and DVD player, a subscription to Netflix, books to read, and a computer. In much of the world, I'm incredibly wealthy. I don't even have to work for my money (topic for another day), I just have to suffer and be crazy and pay a price in shame to the government and the internalized voice of my mother (another topic for another day). Relative to most of the world's population, I'm rich. It's good to remind myself of that on days when I'm feeling sorry for myself because it's a squeaker to pay all my bills.

So much of life (everything?) is what our minds make of it, what we decide it will be. Relative to what this article was in my head at 6:30 this morning, it's a failure, but relative to writing nothing at all, I guess it's a success.

Relatively speaking, this is not my best day. But it's not my worst either. May we all live our lives seeking and finding the up side of of life's relative offerings.


Linda Murphy said...

It's always good to remind ourselves how rich we truly, even when bills are tight and our wish list is long. To have a roof over head, food on the table, a good book or two, good company (comes in many forms-blogger pals, friends, family, pets) and we really have what we need. I need to keep that closer to my heart more often-thank you for posting.

Raven said...

Thanks as always for your thoughts, snoopmurph. Some days it's easier to see the richness of life than others. I broke the jar for my blender - just plain stupid carelessness - the night before I wrote this and you would have thought that the world was going to end I got so pissed off and upset. And there was glass all over the floor and Angel wanted to help and I screamed at her because I was upset and because I didn't want her to cut her paws to shreds... Came out of the kitchen from cleaning that up and my computer had a blue screen. I had a brief bout with the idea that I was more abused by fate than any other mortal.... that's when my "thank you for everything... I have no complaints whatsoever" mantra comes in handy.

I WOULD like to win Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes, though. I don't understand why they keep giving my check to other people. I'm sure they are all very nice and deserving, but still... I have such lovely plans for all that money...