Cupcake Countenance: A Brief InterludeColumns, Cupcake Countenance, Featured — By Kim Gottschild on April 25, 2011 at 1:27 pm
(Editor’s Note: If you’re new to the column, be sure to catch up on all things cupcakey here!)
Hey, that’s an authentic, actual condition! That’s my current state! Not the one I was going for, but honest, nonetheless. Maybe recognizing and acknowledging this current sentiment is the start of something.
In an effort to be transparent here – this is a safe space, right? – I think I’m going through some sort of emotional, spiritual, existential withdrawal. I’m irritable and shaky, cranky and unpleasant, fidgety and nervous, like physically coming off narcotics. Not that I would really know; it’s just the impression I got from those middle school health class film strips we watched around the same time I got turned off from ever eating fried eggs.
I know I asked for it and all, but being forced to be present is a whole new concept for me, an entire paradigm shift in my being. Having been stripped of my subjunctive playlists and my daughters’ imaginary wedding plans, I don’t know how to tap into the present tense, to cope, to live, and this is disconcertedly unsettling. Frankly, I feel like I’m suspended in air, left with a whole lot of nothingness. And, faced with uncertain employment status (honestly, it’s not the employment status that bothers me as much as the uncertainty) those old codependent iPod playlists and fantasy wedding plans are looking pretty good to me right now. Honestly, it would be so much easier just to lose faith in the journey, to turn back now, to relapse.
Why this “being present” isn’t any easier is beyond me. After all, “living in the now” is the new crack. Apparently, a lot of us have used disillusion like a drug for far too long, and living in the now is the new, non-addicting, homeopathic version way to cope with life’s stressors. It’s Escape Mechanism Lite. On all the newsstands, all the blogs, all the famous talk show host websites who will remain unnamed, are tips and how tos. And the stuff sells, man. On every street corner. At every CVS. Over the counter, even.
Now, I peruse my fair share of magazines and blogs, I get around. And from what I’ve gleaned, living in the present tense, coping with a crazy, chaotic world, means diving into mundane activities all the while becoming acutely aware of everyday life. Really? That’s a coping mechanism?
And they make it sound so easy. For example, if you’re slicing a tomato, become aware of its juiciness, its tenderness, its ripeness. Fantastic. I usually notice my finger as I accidentally slice through it, so no luck there.
Or you could appreciate the flavor of your chocolate fudge brownie, and when that’s over you could appreciate some more, and when that’s gone you could try some more, and some more….
Yeah…. I tried that once. But that’s another story for another time.
Or, if you’re drinking a cup of coffee, don’t drink it whilst making your daily, weekly, or monthly to-do list, simultaneously berating yourself for not having achieved enough the day before. No, drink it and become aware of the woodsy, herbal, lusciously full-bodied, Fair Trade Sumatra Blue Batak aroma you are experiencing right now and let everything else, past and future, become vaporized by its steam. Somehow, the present moment will take care of itself.
If it’s all so easy breezy, why is this going right by me? This just sounds like a whole lotta New Age funky shiznit if you ask me. (Excuse the language, please. I said I was tense.)
But okay, alright, let’s say I was able to notice the flavor of my coffee. So the heck what? What does that effectively do? My morning brew may taste fab, but does that mail the bills, write the lesson plans, feed the kids? Does that retain my job? Does that enhance my relationship with my husband and children? Does that give me the strength to go slice some tomatoes and remain unscathed? What, pray tell, is the point?
Seriously, I wanted to live in the now and connect with my family, and I’m left with decaf? Merely becoming aware of the present tense by way of my java strikes me as empty, about as empty as my mug, since I drank it all. And I just don’t understand what’s supposed to come next. Another cup? Another roast? Another flavor?
Oh, I thought writing about cupcakes was going to be a whole lot fluffier than this.
How do you live in the present?