Sunday, July 29

I know you can be overwhelmed, and you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be whelmed?

I have a not-so-secret obsession with teen movies.

I have been scarce again, which is what happens when I feel like I have too much to say. I guard my words and say nothing, I brew and stew and slowly my thoughts start gnawing away at whatever balance or happiness I had been trying so hard to hold onto.

Nothing really heavy, either, just the same old mixed bag. There are the things in my tiny world that weigh me down: money trouble, making plans, managing my slowly diminishing mental capacity, household management, behaviour issues (not just the toddler's), and of course, the impending addition to our family (80 days). Then there are the things in my larger, but still immediate, world adding their heft: the civic strike, a nearby oil spill, the housing crisis, the controversial 2010 game prep, and the fucking neighbours who are re-building the house across the street at all hours with little regard for the rest of us. Finally I've been fretting about the big big world: what does the future hold, am I doing enough, where are all these wars headed, how can we reduce our environmental impact, fears of tainted foods, unsafe toys, unethical trade, slave labour, toxic spills, nuclear time-bombs and oceanic dead zones.

Okay, some of it is heavy.

Shortly before getting pregnant with Sebastian, I got a subscription to Adbusters. In the months leading up to parenthood I read and re-read every word written in those pages. I read with a mix of fear and hope. I feared that "we" were too late - that we are already skipping off to hell in our Prada shoes, clutching our Coach purses, lips and arm-pits full of botox and minds full of a mix of self-importance and self-loathing. But in those pages I also saw a glimmer of hope, hope that the obviousness of impending global crises would mobilize the human race in ways only ever seen on movie screens. Two years later I still hold out hope - I see people making positive changes, I see people putting their lives on display so that others can see how unimpossible change can be.

I also see people losing faith in the systems that brought us here, I hear from boomers their regrets that they raised us in this strange new world and didn't tell us it would be our responsibility to keep the dream from falling apart, I see a new generation peeking out from behind video game consoles and rejecting the processed pablum we've spoon-fed them their entire lives, demanding fresh air, clean water and places to run. I see all this and I am filled with hope. I am also filled with fear that it is too late for most of us. I see people of my generation, people who ought to know better, still basking in denial, looking for ways to make the old systems work so that they don't have to change, still raping our precious green spaces, still supporting a food industry that has proven it doesn't give a shit about anything but profit, sitting in their air-conditioned, detached, suburban homes, crunching chips and watching with concern the results of whatever reality show is in season. Using the loo when a news story comes on, unless it includes the mugshot of an a-lister.

Who can blame them? Change is hard and confusing and scary. Misinformation, misdirection, mistakes... it is a hell of a lot easier to just go with the flow. I should know. I have been known to be perfectly status-quo. Hell, we, the "vegetarian Forsyths" had McDonald's for dinner last night. And we all ate meat. Talk about your hypocritical clan - this dinner trip took place no more than five hours after I passionately explained the importance of fair trade to a group of visitors.

I. am. an. ass.

I also don't remember where I meant to go with this rant. Maybe this was my desired result, admitting my assyness, getting it off my chest, not in hope of any absolution, but so that you know that I know that I am a hypocrite. Balancing my desires with what is right is this constant struggle between dark and light and all shades of gray. Giving up on that struggle, whether because I feel like the balance has been achieved (it never is) or because I feel like it is too hard (it isn't) always seems to leave me feeling better for a moment then worse for an eternity as I scramble back up to my last foothold. The things I think will make me feel better - eating, shopping, vegging - never do. The things I avoid - working, planning, cleaning - always do.

Funny how I still haven't figured that out.

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