26 July 2009


I have conversation loops running in my head. Regularly.

I wonder if this is normal.

In fact, I have often (always) wondered if the various inner workings of my head are normal.

Do all people speak to themselves in their head?

Do they use "I" or "you" when they talk to themselves?

Do all justify their questionable behaviour over and over again until it sounds 'right' enough to live with?

Does everyone silently swear at themselves?

Do all people sing John Cougar Mellencamp Cougar in their head when they are feeling like a particularly conspicuous loser? If the answer is no, please don't tell me.

Quite naturally, most of the time, these internal conversations slash running dialogs slash virtual fist fights I have, are with those closest to me.

Mothers, Fathers, Sons, Daughters and Others.

But not always. Sometimes the 'talk' I have internally, is aimed at that individual who is driving his over-sized vehicle, in my immediate vicinity, as if he's trying to put as much distance between himself and the mental institution from which he quite obviously just escaped, where he was being unsuccessfully treated for Delusions of Grand Am, I mean Grandeur.

I win this argument every time, by the way. It usually ends with the words, "Just drive with grace, you intellectually challenged, inbred, bed wetting, bottom feeding, Bikini Barista patron, you!" That would be me talking, not the other guy.

But the solitary mental discussions I have with strangers are not as common as those I have with loved ones.

The two dominant and recurring mental conversations I've been having most recently are:

  • Take Care of What You Love
  • Shovel Your Own Shit.

For years, I've watched someone neglect the 'care and feeding' of all he loves, and then watched him lose those things. Then I stood stunned when he behaved as if he'd had no part in it, at all. It wasn't a complete void of care, but all care tended to be exactly what was required just to 'get by,' the very minimum maintenance needed and only then in a reactionary and obligatory fashion. I feel like I might not be speaking directly or specifically enough. Not like me, huh?

This is what I'm saying, in my head, a whole lot lately:
"Take care. Take care of what is precious to you. If you cherish it, if you want to keep it, care for it. Put your energy where your gratitude lies, whether it be a possession like a fountain pen once owned by John Steinbeck or Walt Whitman. Or a relationship with an amazing person whom you can never quite figure out. Take care."

You wouldn't use said fountain pen to clean the clog out of your kitchen sink. Or set it aside carelessly along with the ink blotch-leaving pens you've collected from doctors, insurance offices and bank tellers to collect dust until your relatives have to go through your belongings for the estate sale, unless of course you really don't care for the pen at all.

When you lose that magnetic, dynamic, crazy-magic girl who was completely devoted to you, until the day came when she'd had enough of your emotional indifference and apparent disinterest, it's because you did not take care. Or you were too cool to show it.

This brings me around to the part of the discussion where I start arguing with my own logic, which seems a little masturbatory in some 'queen of debate class' kind of way:

"You idiot. Do you hear yourself? If you have to remind someone to take care of something, it is already over. A reminder is of no use. We instinctively protect and care for those things important to us. If that instinct doesn't kick in naturally, we did not care to begin with. Although you might well be quite bummed when you are no longer in touch with that special friend, by then staying in touch was probably more of a principle kind of thing. You really didn't care enough to take care, so there you go. You get exactly what you get. Apathy begets apathy. Gratitude begets gratitude. Period."

I have some pretty involved internal conversations, no? Was it good for you too? My argument with the original 'offender' and then a conversation with my conversational self. Is that normal? Don't answer that, please. I have decided I no longer want to know what's normal.

It makes me sad to even write this. I think our society trains us very well to take things for granted. To behave with apathy and disassociation. We are discouraged from revealing our true joy and gratitude for that which we cherish. We are taught to dismiss. Treat the 'special' in our lives as if it is disposable and easily replaced. Somethings, some people, once lost, can never, ever be replaced. But we keep telling ourselves otherwise.

In the same vein yet on the other hand, I think we need to be honest with our self and others about what really doesn't matter to us. We feel like some things 'should' matter to us. If we are a good person, a good parent, a good citizen, then certain things should matter to us. Right? But sometimes they just don't, or they used to but they don't any more. Be honest.

Barbie's Digest Condensed version: If you are grateful for the person you're with, sing this. Sing it loud and sing it often. Besides simply being the 'right' thing to do, this is the way to give and receive gratitude. Everyone, I'm speculating, wants to be with someone who radiates "How did I get so lucky?" in their presence.

If you are not grateful for the person you're with, go. If you do not have a clear sense of your good fortune when you dine next to them, when you wake beside them, when you help them through their struggles, when they ask too much of you, then let them go. Someone else out there will feel lucky to have them but not if you refuse to let them go. Don't settle just because you are too lazy or terrified to try again. Hold out until you feel that 'how did I ever get so lucky?' feeling. And make sure you're with some one who cannot believe they got lucky enough to have you.

More on that 'shovel' conversation I mentioned earlier in the next episode......