So I’m finally reading The Catcher In The Rye for the first time ever: not sure if it was still “banned” when I was in high school, but it’d always been a book I kinda knew I should read- as any & all “banned books” usually are. Sadly, however, my love of books lost the battle to my love of boys sometime during middle school (not having a healthy male role model in your life tends to do that to a girl.) Needless to say- I had “daddy” issues and therefore chose the absolute worst of the “bad-boys” to cling to. I suppose that’s why I went from being hell-bent on “saving myself” until I found my “one” to becoming just another pregnancy statistic in the then-budding epidemic of underage baby-makers who thought getting knocked-up in the back seat (or in my case- the front: he drove a “hoopty”) of HIS car well before ever learning to drive our own equaled “true love.” It’s also probably how I went from testing into MENSA before I was eight to giving up on myself and just getting my GED well before I’d reached eighteen.
I’m only five chapters in but already amazed by the character “Jane Gallagher” who apparently was me in my former life and grew up with the former incarnation of the same sexually-inappropriate “boozer” as I did! Only then, he was still her mom’s boyfriend; in this incarnation, he was my grandmother’s: much, much creepier- I’d say. My friends all certainly thought so!!! I have this theory of the Universe (use “God if that offends you & vice versa…) and the “divine plan” of all creation that came to me during my “crazy,” but I’ll explain that in another post! Suffice it to say that my theory of “the plan” involves reincarnation with each subsequent life giving another degree of separation from the “bad” allowing us to be one step closer to our ideal life- the life we’d prefer to live over & over throughout eternity. Because, no offense, but the “heaven” religion tried to sell us growing up really doesn’t sound so “heavenly” now does it? I mean c’mon: streets of GOLD!? Gates of PEARL!? Who wants all that “bling” going to waste on the infrastructure!!?? And why does Heaven have to be a gated community? That just says it probably costs too much to get in in the first place- and once you’re in, you’ll have to go through HELL to get out. Again, it’s just my opinion- but I’d never want to be trapped anywhere (especially this ungodly bourgeois place!!!) knowing I wouldn’t have the option of leaving…for all of eternity.
But I digress: this isn’t a story about my spiritual beliefs, it is a story about how we see the world. Not literally see the world as in travel- haven’t had an opportunity to do much of that in this life, (so far!) but rather how we’ve been programmed to see things in the world. First of all, it’s the world that’s actually “bipolar”- not me: why else would so many sentences start with, “There’s two kinds of people in the world…” fill in the blanks as you see fit. Again, my whole “it’s ALL gang-related” rant will have to be another page in itself- what can I say: I spent the last thirty-two years thinking instead of doing. But I seriously did identify the “two types of people” as it pertains to my topic: those who view life top-down and those who view it bottom-up.
The top-down person sees surface first and tends to never delve any deeper for fear of what might be hiding underneath. I believe this is because they, themselves, assume they’re being viewed only on the surface as well. Therefore, they will go to great lengths to give the appearance of whatever they think you think is “normal.” But just below the surface lies all of the “dirty little secrets” they’ve swept under the rug or stuffed in a closet somewhere because they are afraid of being judged by you for who they really are- they obviously assume you wouldn’t approve. While there are those of us who “put on airs” as a means of showing respect in certain situations- I’d never be my total self when meeting someone’s parents, for example: I know full-well that much “crazy” must be revealed in small doses, if at all. But I don’t think that makes me a hypocrite: just a crazy, freaky girl who doesn’t want to get off on the wrong foot with your family- or offend anyone, for that matter.
The problem with top-down vision is that you never seem to try to get to the bottom of things- literally and metaphorically. Seriously, I first realized this while cleaning my mom’s house last year just before the holidays: I actually found things that had been “lost” since we’d first moved in- almost fifteen years prior! That’s when I connected the physical symptoms with the emotional. See, people like my mom are the type who don’t “believe in” seeking professional help for something that’s still able to remain under the surface- mentally or physically. I always used to call it her “see no evil…” syndrome because that’s exactly how she thought: as long as no one else can see what I’m afraid to look at, I’m okay. People like her just build layers upon layers over the years and see it as a good thing because the deeper the layers of “ugly,” the less surface that’s left to have to make pretty.
Me, on the other hand, I clean from the “bottom up.” Meaning I don’t consider it “clean” until I’ve gotten down to the walls and baseboards. I do have a reputation for being “nasty” because, in the decade I was able to keep a place of my own, it’d spend a majority of the time looking like a dumpster-bomb had gone off. But when I finally did get around to cleaning it- like once a season or so- it was freakin’ immaculate!!! I’d always take pictures because I knew it wouldn’t stay that way for long- you show me a single mom with a spotless house & I’ll show you someone who just finished cleaning it because she knew you were coming. Of course, it didn’t go to hell all at once: for awhile I’d put forth the effort to clean up after myself and my two adorable- but nasty!– children. Inevitably, however, being that I was way outnumbered (we had a dog too!) it would get to a point where I knew I’d need more time than was available to get it cleaned to my standards. This was usually when I began my “strike” which would culminate in our place getting worse each week until I simply couldn’t stand it anymore- or wanted to impress someone who might be coming over. Since I’m not much on impressions- I must pretty much be in love with you (or someone close to you…) in order to actually care what you think of me- the latter was pretty rare: occurring approximately four times a year.
But I see “bottom-up” in everything- including myself. I do see what’s on the surface first, but I immediately look to the very core in order to attach meaning to what I see. A prime example: grocery shopping. I once knew a chick who seriously ironed sweats just to go to the grocery store!!! One morning last winter, my daughter woke up with a severe craving for Eggo waffles- naturally, we were fresh out. I could’ve just made her eat something else- but then her sister just had to have them too: and that was simply a battle I preferred not to have unnecessarily. Did I take a shower, get dressed, put on make-up (really!?) and fix my hair before I left? Hell no!!! That would’ve taken at least an hour or two: much like cleaning, I rarely get all “dolled” up now that I’ve got kids- but when I do, I do it to the nines. Honestly, I probably didn’t even comb my hair or brush my teeth first- I was going to get breakfast, remember? As I was high-tailing it from the frozen foods to the checkout, my appearance suddenly occurred to me so for a split-second I pondered what others who saw me might be thinking. But then my instincts kicked back in so I asked myself what I would be thinking if I saw someone else in my same situation- I am, after all, far too critical of myself yet almost always look for the best in others. Of course, having now been in that situation myself, I realized I would’ve simply felt empathy for their Saturday-still-in-PJs-kids-need-food dash through the grocery store- DUH!!!
Remember those “magic eye” puzzles? You know- the ones where in order to even see the image, you’d have to look “through” the ugly picture’s surface ’til you focused your eyes on the right colored blobs? They came out when I was about eleven or twelve and I, for one, absolutely adored them! I’d cut them out of the paper and tape them all over the walls in my room. Of course, I probably just loved them because they were different and trendy (at the time)- as compared to word-related puzzles like Crossword or Jumble. I’d say it also had something to do with the fact that always saw the image: most times, within a few seconds. Others might struggle for nearly an hour or so before giving up, because they really did want to see what I saw. But some people would basically just skim it over for a minute or two then give up- declaring it a “stupid puzzle.” While there were a select few of us who either “got it” from the start or were patient enough and persistent enough not to quit trying til we did, I’d speculate that- at that time- the majority of human eyes weren’t able to see it. That’s probably why they were just a passing “fad.” I sure do wish they’d bring them back- whoever “they” are. I really thought they were beautiful- even when viewed on the surface: they came in all different colors and were like a rainbow filled with peace on my bedroom wall. If I could go back to see the “me” I was back then, I’d share an important secret with her. I’d tell her not to associate with anyone who looked but never saw: who knew I’d had the modern-day Rorschach tests hanging right there all along.
Btw: Finished the book- not sure who I’d be: I’m too connected with them all.