Since I wrote my self-indulgent grumbly piece on Pre-menstrual tension, a question has been uncomfortably niggling at me: If I didn’t have things so good, if life bumped me about and smacked me in the face a bit more instead of cushioning me so comfortably, would things like PMS even register on my stress scale? If I was raising my family in war torn Darfur where I’d been recently raped by government backed militia, would I not long for the trifle of menstrual niggles? Relish the healthy shouts and screeches of my children?
Well of course I would, what a dumb question. The very fact that I live in a blessed world is one that exacerbates my distress and self-loathing when I am in the throes of an irrational hormonal surge, but this underscores my point – have we of the lucky countries and lucky circumstance lost our capacity to accept pain and suffering as part of life? Perhaps the better we have it the better we expect it and HOW DARE any upheaval get in the way of rosiness. If I feel affronted and a little less functional when I get a pimple, would I simply fall down in a useless heap if something really bad happened? Would I ever get up?
Or would I find a new way of living, a way that draws on small pleasures and little hopes to get through days. Would desperation to find hope see me man up, seek it out and find it? Would hardship bring strength and greater things that were there before? Imagine seeing a spring blossom after decades of nuclear winter? Blurgh, now I’m getting really saccharin and cliched, sorry. But what I mean is I sort of feel like I need to be on an apocalyptic road where my sole purpose is my family’s survival and where finding a tin of baked beans makes me rejoice, really rejoice. Where sunshine and laughter and fresh water is enough to make my whole year. Maybe I should re-read books like Cormac Mcarthy’s “The Road” or Emma Donoghue’s “Room” – both made me look at my world differently for a few days. But only a few days before one of the children gets diarrhoea and my brain mumbles, “No fair, I’ll have to cancel my hair appointment” like an ungrateful teen.
The Olympics appears to have reinforced my concerns for the perspective of the western world. I can’t help feeling irritated with Emily Seebohn’s own very public case of cocked up perspective. I know, I know, I have no understanding of her emotions and the pressure on her, but she came second in THE WORLD, she’s in the Olympic games for goodness sake, should she not be happy to just be there? I think you did great Emily, I didn’t expect anything of you other than try your best and say no to drugs and I think you did both. If your Mum and Dad are disappointed in you then what sort of parents are they? You’re 16 with the world at your feet and you have lovely hair. And two more words for you Emily – Ally Schnieder.
I feel as though I need to arm myself with a whole set of stories and appreciation triggers before the next lot of oestrogen tackles me from behind, or God forbid if something in my life does go really wrong. Well lookie here, philanthropist and World Vision CEO Tim Costello has come up with the goods. He has written a book called “Hope” which I haven’t read yet but could really help me stock my armoury. He describes it as an antidote to grumpiness with its stories of challenge, tragedy and hardship from all over the world, chosen to reignite optimism in a world turned grumpy by political weakness and economic woes.
I don’t believe we can blame the economy and the government for our lack of optimism, I think it’s simply that complaining has become our right, something inherent in how we behave. And we are more likely to complain if there’s actually nothing particularly awful to complain about. If the economy was booming and the Government irreproachable then you can bet your arse we’d all complain about the weather or the taste of water. Grumpiness is something of an epidemic but I think we like it. We must, or we wouldn’t be tuning into shows like the BBC’s Grumpy Old Men and Women.
Where am I headed with all this? I not entirely sure. I’m not saying stop being grumpy immediately, don’t worry be happy, don’t sweat the small stuff, look on the bright side blah blahdy blah. I’m going to complain inwardly or outwardly about something very very soon even though I don’t know what it is yet, but I’m going to try and counteract it with a little joyous thought or statement or action, even if it means forcing it, even if it means finding the humour in the grumpiness, which is what Aussies do a lot (as does Megoracle). I have a tattoo of a forget-me-not on my wrist which has over the years proved useful for remembering what I don’t want to be, perhaps I can start to use it as a reminder of the things I should be grateful for, of the inspiring people featured in Tim Costello’s book of Hope (when I read it – it’s not quite launched yet). Perhaps while I work on improving my physical fitness (I’m on a health kick), I can flex my appreciation muscles and increase my gratitude cell count.
Now sigh sigh sigh I’ve got to go and do the damn washing up gosh my lips are dry must be all this cold weather bloody Tasmania haven’t done my core exercises who put a hole in the flyscreen oh to be 16 look at those wrinkles the bath needs a wash bloody bloody mumble sigh sigh forget-me-not famine in Niger PING I’m so lucky to have a bath and hot water I have no grey hairs ooh fresh sourdough for lunch…