Siroccos and Shibboleths


Image Courtesy of childrens books online.org

I have spent so much time in the last 19 or 20 years trying to understand my adult self, yet sometimes I can’t help but feel as if the “real me” is diaphanous, even mythical. There are things I know about myself, for good or for evil. I am a grasshopper.1 I am a humorist.2 I am an artist, in the broad sense of the word; a creator of written works and handmade crafts. 3 I am honest and forthright about my strong points and my weak ones. I know I make way too many assumptions about my relationships, and what is acceptable to me may not be at all tolerable to someone else. I am working on that. I know I am kind and friendly, loud and embarrassing, sometimes silly, sometimes sensible. I am trying not to define myself by my relationships, my looks or things that are merely ephemeral.

I can be swayed by the winds of my emotions. I have a tendency to get depressed on occasion, although I am generally aware and proactive against that trait. The warm sirocco winds (similar winds exist here in Arizona, in fact) swirl in my mind, often creating an overwrought condition that makes it hard for me to plan or be reasonable about the future. Yet I do know this propensity exists in me, and I try to not make any life decisions when it rages – and those who love me also have learned to let the winds blow, and then wait for the dust to settle.

What is my intent, purpose, value, and/or importance in this life? Whether I believe in a soul’s existence stretching from life to life, or follow the path of belief that mandates, as Peggy Lee sang, that this is all there is, I feel I must somehow get a grip! Is it possible (yes, I believe so!) to over think, over plan, over talk and over theologize my mundane (in the Piers Anthony sense 4) or muggle life to the point that I don’t live it while it is happening? Perhaps therein lays my grasshopper nature! But there are other shibboleths that keep me from understanding myself fully, and being the kind of person I want to be.

My W.A.S.P. ancestry

Why do I use that term (shibboleth 5) besides its lovely alliterative rhythm? Because it is that very regional or social differentiation that makes it so hard to get along with one another, to understand one another, and even to make a case for understanding oneself. For if we start out life in a social stratum, or with regional prejudices, how hard is it to see beyond them, to discard them in order to embrace a more universal viewpoint? I can say I have a W.A.S.P. background, an upper-middle class upbringing, and I do not have a college degree. In some ways, all of those things define me, but they are not who I am; at least I’d like to think that they aren’t. But my lack of a college degree bothers me. I have an inclination to compare my current financial situation (a grasshopper on a very small income) to my childhood experience. And socially, my W.A.S.P. circumstances, which should mean absolutely nothing, actually means I have more opportunities and can indulge in more possibilities than people who are, for example, Black, Hispanic, Catholic or Muslim. But that doesn’t make me BETTER than anyone else, or worse either. I am learning to embrace my uniqueness, while struggling to let go of the things that confuse me or contradict my heartfelt intent and purpose.

Rhyme and Reason from Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth 1961 Illustration by Jules Feiffer

My real question is, why does it seem to be so hard? I’d like to have a sense of peace, some degree of inner well-being, a release from anxiety and fretfulness about things that may matter, but shouldn’t. What to do, what to do? Keep slogging. Work with my sense of family, spirituality and sensibility to find my own comfort zone. Mine, not what someone else may think is right for me. Keep reading, keep talking, keep blogging, and keep an open mind and loving chi. Try to care for others in such a way that enriches my life as well as theirs. And last but not least, create a life for myself that reflects not only the now, but the later, the future, the unforeseeable someday. For I am a grasshopper, dancing in the breeze, fiddling for all I am worth, and hoping that someone will see and appreciate my individualist’s rhyme and reason.

————————————————————————————————————

Footnotes

1 This fable is subject to MUCH interpretation – see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ant_and_the_Grasshopper for a discussion on it if you are interested.

2 Humorists tend to be more subtle and cerebral than comics. The intention is often to provoke wry smiles and amusement rather than outright belly laughs. (Think Erma Bombeck rather than Joan Rivers!)

3 A definition of Artist from Princeton.edu: creative person (a person whose creative work shows sensitivity and imagination.)

4 In fantasy literature the term is sometimes used to apply to non-magical people or the non-magical society. It is used in Piers Anthony’s Xanth novels and Bill Willingham’s comic book series Fables

5 A shibboleth used in this way is any distinguishing practice that is indicative of one’s social or regional origin.


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About ReaderWoman

Professional reader and researcher for writers - Reviewer and Editor for online book review sites - AVID reader (well, duh!) writer, crafter (sewing, jewelry, fiber art) photographer, herb gardener, love to learn new things - Married 3842 years, 2 "kids" (now 34 and 36) and two grands (13 and 15) Born and raised California Girl, with stints in Tennessee, learning to speak Southern, and Arizona, learning that living in a trailer is NOT fun! Enjoy conversations with wine and chocolate, long walks and being with hubby and family. Life is good!
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4 Responses to Siroccos and Shibboleths

  1. Dearest Laura,
    Methinks you think too much. Whatever is going to happen is going to happen no matter how much thought you give to the future. I wish I had a plan but I don’t. I kind of make it up as I go along and I hop an whatever train seems to be going my way. In other words, I trust the future. It’s so much easier. But maybe I’m just lazy. As for me, I think you’re one of the coolest babes I know, and I barely know you…only by email.
    Your new old friend,
    Betty

    • ReaderWoman says:

      I probably DO think too much. Kinda boring out here in the desert! LOL. I am just putzing along, trying to make the most of life – not really sure of anything, but then, I am the kind to get on the bus not knowing where it is going! Love ya Betty!

  2. Deb says:

    Do you know how rare it is to find someone who thinks about all this? It takes a very wise soul to recognize, for instance, that her culture provides certain advantages as well as limitations.

    • ReaderWoman says:

      I not only think about it, I obviously obsess about it! Wish I could feel more comfortable in my own skin!

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