Sunday, November 10, 2013

Movie Stars, Hungry Ghosts, and The Cycle of Life

I've been riding a roller coaster for a year and a half right now, which is well-predicted by my BBT (if you're out in a field beyond fertility lingo, that's basal body temperature... it tells you which hormones are at play and whether you are ovulating, pregnant, or not). If I were to graph my emotional well-being and overlay it atop the BBT charts, you would see a striking resemblance, like a mountain range and its shadow. 

When my temperature goes up, so does my mood! My hope! I could be just nine months away from a bouncing baby human!

When my temperature goes down, my mood withers. I try to think of all of the consolation prizes like another trip to the hot springs without the fear of nuking a baby, at least one more month of binge-watching The West Wing while painting my toenails, or 30 more days of rock-hard abs (yes, I have two of them!).

In high school I spent some time acting. I thought I might go to Los Angeles and be the Next Big Thing, or possibly fetch coffee for the Next Big Thing, or at worst sell tickets to the movie staring the NBT. It is entirely possible that I was good, or that I had an "interesting look," or that someone was taking pity on me, but I was referred to a local agent who referred me to an agent in Hollywood. Holy smokes, I thought, this could be it.

My acting coach at the time (we'll call him "Bonkers" for the sake of this blog post) took me out for a cup of coffee and gave me his frank opinion: Hollywood will eat you alive. There is always someone taller, prettier, blonder, younger, or more willing to eat caterpillars than you are. You don't have the guts or the drive to make it all the way. They'll eat you up and spit you out. Plus, I'll tell you a secret: they're never happy anyway.

This was absurd, of course, as all teens raised in These United States can tell you the exact recipe for happiness: go to LA, get famous, enjoy.

Except we slightly older and more jaded folks know that this isn't true, otherwise the poor unfortunate famosas wouldn't be rehabbing over and over, or buying and selling rights to their organs, or insuring their buttocks. They've fallen victim to what the Buddhists call something like Hungry Ghost Syndrome. Hungry Ghosts are enormous, surrounded by delicious food, and have a pin-sized holes for mouths. Even when they eat constantly, they can never satisfy their appetites.

In my case (and perhaps in yours, too?) my mouth isn't the size of a pinhole, it is my focus. By gluing my eyeball to the end of a scope I've managed to tear the focus away from the wonderment that surrounds me in the world and keep my full attention on a distant target that is... well... distant.

It isn't our fault. Whether you're transfixed by the dream of singing with Billy Joel or the cure for cancer, if you're unaware of where you are, you're living your life through a pinhole. I'm not saying you should ignore your dreams (or seriously, if you're onto something cancer-wise, rock on with your bad self and we'll help you with teamwork or something). But take some breaks from star-gazing every once and awhile to live with your feet on the ground. Feel the sand in your toes.

Sometimes the sand is the fact that I'm going to be an auntie in a few quick months, or the wild bobkittens who live underneath my house, or the 353+ people who think I have something to teach.

Sometimes the sand is you, off somewhere in the dark, having a moment because I had a moment and said something about it.

And sometimes the sand is just sand. But that's not too shabby, either.

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