Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Good Girl and The Good Student

The Good Girl and The Good Student

Like most women of my age and time and station, I've spent some time dealing with my predisposition to be The Good Girl, and by that I mean someone who follows all of the rules simply because they are the rules. Usually the rules are not written by good girls, but by groups of elders or men or elves (or ogres).

When they sent the invitations for the Rule Makers Meeting, it's possible they ran out of stamps when they got to the girls.

It doesn't really matter, though, because we are the best at following rules. If there were rule-following prizes awarded by the sun, we would be starlight beings. Even when the rules make no sense, or when we had no part in writing them. We still get a big, bright, gold star in the sky. And better yet, we avoid the stinging shame of punishment.

I'll speak for myself when I say that I'm slightly perturbed by this. 

Well, half of me is. The other half is too busy following the rules.

The other half, the anthropologist, loves observing the absurd behavior of the first half of me. I've introduced these two halves before, but I'll reintroduce in case you're not my mother and haven't actually read the entire cannon of my blogishness.

The rule follower is the Alpaca-Kari. Alpacas are small and skittish and quick to frighten. They are certain that they will end up on the street dragging a shopping cart filled with various and sundry items cast off by the less-anxious animals who seem to believe somehow that they can survive without that pair of broken sunglasses. 

Alpaca Kari follows the rules because she believes that if she just does EVERYTHING RIGHT that it will keep The Bad Things at bay. Like sickness and sadness and death. Anthropologically speaking, this behavior smacks of a superstition, doesn't it? If I told you that all I have to do to stay healthy is to avoid looking at tarantulas, you would call that superstitious. But if Wash My Hands and Eat My Vegetables, you might call that rational, because these rational rules are backed by Science and will therefore prevent me from getting sick.

Tell THAT to ebola.

Yogini-Kari is the other side. The observer who remembers this training in anthropology and yoga and meditation and says... hmmm... there is definitely logic and even evidence that these behaviors will keep me from getting some sicknesses, but nothing, nothing, nothing will actually prevent sadness and sickness and death.

Damn it.

The biggest irony for me, today, is that I'm re-learning this lesson (again, yes, thank you for keeping score) in an ashram. I find myself trying to be The Good Student (which is the best friend of The Good Girl) and forgetting to apply context or my own moral code or set of priorities. Remember when I decided that my own personal health and safety was more important than, say, being on time for things? 

Apparently, I do not.

This means that on my third day here I got in trouble. As in I broke a rule, someone noticed, and then they told me that I Was Bad.

The good news is that I didn't die immediately. I mean, I'm writing this now from what may very well be my death-hammock, as it is possible I've been living on shock for the past 24 hours, but I'm pretty sure this won't be the thing that does me in. 

It did feel like it at the time, because if there's one thing that makes me squeal inside the most, it is Shame. With a capital S. This comes back to The Good Girl/Student who still prioritizes the health and safety of others (or the Collective) more than the health and safety of my self. Not that the health and safety of everyone isn't important, or that empirically it might even be more important than my tired little stress-addled body, however, this is not how I would want to raise my child. To blindly and blithely follow rules written by a committee that I was not a part of.

And this, dear kittens, is my lesson I'm learning again. That I ought to treat myself as well as I would treat my child. Would I tell my daughter to be A Good Girl? Nope. If I ever have a daughter, I want her to be Pippi Longstocking. Full of sass and spunk and unafraid to say, "Dear God, Man! I've spent years delaying going to the bathroom to prioritize the needs of others over my personal comfort and health, and DAMN IT, when  you gotta go, you gotta go. And now I will go scrub the kitchen. I'll even do it better, more sincerely, and for the greater good of all the world... and without doing the pee pee dance."

These are the things I would want for a daughter.

Which surely means, that's really what I want for myself. Isn't it?

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