48 essays by Elizabeth Shé

Posts Tagged ‘change’

Essay #26: labor

In Love on September 5, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Labor: to work hard; to struggle to do something very difficult or very tiring; [of love] something demanding or difficult that is done just for pleasure rather than for money (Word 2011 Dictionary)

I am posting this from my new (to me) computer.
I have been dragged into the 21st century. Finally.

Garth Brooks wrote a great song – Kickin’ and Screamin’ – about a man who doesn’t want to get married, then doesn’t want to get unmarried. He’s dragged kickin’ and screamin’ to the wedding, then to the divorce. He sings, “Lord, we never want to be here… sure don’t ever want to go.”

I’m not quite that bad, but I am fairly cautious when it comes to change. Even when it’s in my best interest to, say, upgrade my computer, I cling to the old one.

Inertia?

There’s a great British-ism: take a decision. Instead of making a decision (as we say in the USA), you let the decision come to you. This computer decision has been a long time coming, but it finally arrived. Yeehaw.

I am learning – you probably already know this – that almost everything’s easier with support. Not just financial, but moral support. To get to this place, typing on a new keyboard, I needed to: talk to my computer-savvy friends; consult experts who weren’t on commission; debate the merits of Mac vs PC; test drive various configurations; process the information and mull things over.

Time passed.

Then, evidently, I needed my dad to say, “Hey, what are you gonna do about a computer?” Thank god, he took it upon himself to research prices of various hardware and software, check out craigslist, then show me the listings and suggest I respond to a few. He also gave me some cash.

That’s the level and detail of help I needed to find my comfort zone, drive my ass to Seattle, and purchase a new-to-me iMac.

Self-reliance is over-rated.
Happy Labor Day.

Essay #8: power or protection

In Love on April 25, 2011 at 8:03 pm

There is a Norway Spruce in the front yard – 40 or 50 feet tall, evergreen and gorgeous, it shields me from my neighbors’ view. When the setting sun hits it, the trunk turns golden orange.

I look at this tree often: when I’m writing, eating, chopping vegetables. It has protected and shaded me for seven years. Buffered street sounds. Hosted birds and squirrels.

Unfortunately, it’s slated for destruction. Power lines run through the limbs. They could snap in a high wind. The electric company asked the landlord to remove it. He in turn asked me to get bids from arborists.

I call three companies. I am complicit in the death of this tree. An accessory.

I feel powerless. Not my tree, not my land. I have to do what ‘they’ say, even if it hurts me. Child-like thinking: adults are in charge, I have to go along.

Or do I?

Why don’t I take a stand: Hell no, Spruce won’t go!
Ain’t no use, we love the Spruce!
Start a group: The Spruce Boosters.
Call on Zeus: we need some juice!
Where is Butterfly whatever-her-name-is when you need her?

On the other hand, I owe the landlord rent. Do I sacrifice the tree to stay on his good side?
Is a tree just a big weed? Is this big ass Spruce messing up my feng shui? Is this why I’m drowning in debt? Because Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, can’t find my door?

As I am writing this, an arborist calls. He can take the tree out Wednesday morning, if that works for me.

I hate change. Well, that’s not entirely true. I like how my face is changing as I get older. I like that I can be honest with people in ways I couldn’t before. I like that I care less what people think. Change is gonna come, croons George Benson.

Should I call the arborist?
What will happen if I remove the barrier?

If people can see you they can hurt you, yes?

If people can see you they can love you. Yes.

Essay #6: the happiness code

In Love on April 11, 2011 at 3:57 pm

I’ve been editing a website for a non-profit.
Uploading text has been simple enough, but suddenly I was unable to change photos.

I followed directions, to the letter. The new photo appeared in the draft, but when I updated and uploaded the page — no photo.

I tried again and again. Maybe I didn’t click all the buttons, check all the boxes.
The photo wouldn’t change.
It should’ve changed (I did everything right!), but it didn’t.

Eventually, frustrated, I stopped and sat and thought.

Computers do exactly what they’re told. They follow programming, to the letter.
Since it wouldn’t do what I asked, it must be doing what someone else asked.
Something I didn’t know about.

Sure enough, I dug around and found other programming in effect, overriding my commands to change the picture. Unbeknownst to me, someone had added header code. I neutralized the code by de-selecting it. Now I can add and change photos 15 times a day.

I didn’t create the underlying code, but it affected me, nonetheless.

Which lead me to think about my ‘happiness code.’

Over the years various people tried to convince me that I deserve to be happy. I rarely believed them. Despite different therapies and methods — affirmation, visualization, cognitive this, meditative that — the picture wouldn’t change.

Perhaps my ‘happiness code’ got deleted, or changed into ‘unhappiness code.’

One day, after her name popped up in too many places to ignore, I checked out Byron Katie’s book, Loving What Is. She advocates investigation. Her method in brief: write down the thought or belief, then question it — is it true? Let the answer arise.

Turns out I’ve been believing lies:
You shouldn’t be happy – your brother is dead.
You shouldn’t be happy – your mother may die.
You shouldn’t be happy – your father left.
You shouldn’t be happy – you are bad.

Installed and coded in five-year-old flesh.
Along with millions of other conflicting beliefs.

I don’t deserve to be happy – is that even true? What’s the reality?
Deserving has nothing to do with happiness. I can think of many people (warmongers, anyone?) who do not deserve to be happy. Yet there they are, blithely blissful, regardless of what I believe.

And if the tables were turned, and I was dead and Johnny alive, I wouldn’t want him to believe some stupid ass concept like You don’t deserve to be happy. That’s crazy! I’d want him to be as happy and healthy as possible, every single day of his life.

Revelation.

If it’s not true for him, it’s probably not true for me.

I didn’t create the code, but I am learning to change the picture.