Monday, October 7, 2013

The Grudge: Fear and Grammy Baggage

Sometimes on quiet nights I think of my grandparents. This is partially inspired by my father's bulimic interest in genealogy: frantic searching and categorizing for a month, then nothing for years. Recipes and wine-soaked wonderings of the great beyond round out the pie chart of grandparentish inspirations, with one sliver left over: The Grudge.

If your inner cinephile is thinking of this:
Exquisite photo from Abby at Love Roots Photography

Take a moment and regroup, pocket that for later.

My grandmother was notorious for her intense, impenetrable grudges. As an example, despite the fact that my mother is a software engineer and could create things like the internet (in which I'm sure she had a part), she keeps her addresses on index cards just as my grandmother did. This is so that when she sends a Christmas card but does not receive one in return she can DESTROY the card and never think of that so-called friend ever again.

(Just in case my mother is reading this, I need to include full disclosure that she does not abide by the entire procedure... I can personally attest that it takes several years of no return card/email before she will strike you from the coveted card list).

In a similar and more striking vein, my most vivid memory of this grandmother was not her cookies or her spit-shined floors and ceilings, but the day she pulled me aside to dish out her secret recipe for The Facts of Life. No, I'm not scarred by the graphic or clinical description of birds and bees. Instead, I'm haunted (recall The Grudge?!) by this sentence which she burned into my hippocampus and the backsides of my eyelids with her laser vision:

"If you get pregnant before you turn 18, I'll kill you myself."

Amazing in color. Thanks, Love Roots Photography.

A retired ER nurse, my grandmother's sensibilities had been eroded by decades of teen mothers and the deplorable circumstances that beget teen mothers. Whether it was society, lack of parenting, abuse, ignorance, or the imbalance of power, teen parenthood pissed my grandmother right off. She didn't want that life for me, most especially she had not worked so hard in her life to protect me from those very circumstances.

I think of this grandmother alongside my own interpretation of the yogic niyama of isvara pranidhana. Most people translate this as "surrender" or something so complicated it doesn't make sense to me. I translate it as "surrender of the attachment to the outcomes of one's actions." Which perhaps is simply a complicated way of saying surrender, but I think it is rather different. For one, when I think of surrender I often think of defeat, retreat, and being boarded by pirates. Given my ancestry of severe grudge-holders, surrender is not something I do lightly. But I have found some solace in the idea that I can do something nice, with my best effort, and then walk away without recognition.

To me, isvara pranidhana means giving a gift because I think you need or deserve it, not because I want
a thank you card.

It means acknowledging the person serving my food because they are a person, not so my date will think of me as an ultra-nice, totally confident person.

It means visiting my grandmother's grave because I never got past the love-threat, but it's the best I can do.

It isn't a license to be careless, to throw your garbage into the sea, to shoot daggers across the internet. It is an acknowledgement that you've done the best you could do.

The Grudge is the enemy of surrender.

How long will you keep score?

1 comment:

  1. This is absolutely beautiful!!! Thank You for sharing!