Thursday, September 9, 2010

A little like Durga

Durga has 10 arms, great compassion
and an ability to soothe
in times of stress. In other words,
like women everywhere, she is a equipped to multi-task.

Rae right now: Happy. Anxious. Focused. Hungry. Sore. Frustrated. Guilty. Tired.

Guilt is never not on the list. Pretty much the same is true of hunger. Always guilty. Always hungry.

I’m not bad at playing host to joy and misery all in the same 5-minute span. My memoir “Free Fall” is a good example of simul-emoting but I contend that most women are pretty good at simul-anything. This skill takes many forms, from multi-tasking to multi-emoting to multi-perception. Yes, children, we do have eyes in the backs of our heads.

Out of necessity (that is, because no one else is taking care of important business) we developed that part of our brains that allows us to multi-task. We routinely walk around with 50+ to-do items of unequal importance in our heads. Tasks range from remove rubber band from wrist … to blog (doing that) … to get plums and sea salt … to pee immediately … to get this cat hair off my black T-shirt before heading out for said salt … to inquire as to the status of my book proposal. And so it goes, from the petty to the life-altering all right here right now.

Think yoga: We are masters of the multi-task form. Do we not console and assert simultaneously? Do we not frost the cake as we lick the bowl? Do we not love a good simultaneous orgasm when we can get one? And whenever feasible, we seek the singular experience made up of eating and talking and drinking with friends. This experience is called Joy, with a capital “J.” If a kid or a lover calls while we are so engaged, sure, no problema, lay it on me.

Women don’t have to be told: We personify the mode known as many. Or, think myth and religion: Medusa, Hydra, the goddess Durga, Teotihuacan Spider Woman. Not all positive, to be sure, but when you’re multi-tasking the smile tends to strain. People notice.

Have you never seen a woman drive and apply mascara, for instance? Not recommended, to be sure, but there it is: X-treme multi-tasking as the world is my witness.

Mixing it up can be a healthy thing. Studies show that people who eat just one food at a time, protein, for instance, from their dinner plates before digging into the next thing, the starch component, for instance, have a greater probability of being psychotic.

I contend that researchers have a disproportionate need to identify links between food and behavior. Worse, they scour our psyches to find links between our mothers and our psychoses. So, caution, please. A pinch of salt when espousing scientific theories about eating behaviors or moms.

Just a few hours ago I realized I was experiencing what was looking more and more like a sleepless night. Oh well. I got out of bed at 4 am, stretched out on the couch, fidgeted, thought about things, got up, fed the cats, washed last night’s remaining dinner dishes, mulled the situation, petted a cat, on and on. I pouted. I sighed. I fretted. I enjoyed a good cup of coffee.

Life is complicated, more so as we age. Yet I’m calmer. The goal, perhaps, is an overlay of contentment as we push on, vacillate between conundrums, appreciation, guilt, frustration, pleasure. It’s all there all the time. Durga, with 10 arms and the wherewithal to intervene in stressful situations, lend me a hand.

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