Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Making Friends with Things

For decades I suffered from debilitating migraines. I learned to make friends with the pain. In essence I would make tacit agreements with it. “You stand back over there for a while and let me get this done,” I would think. “Then I’ll go home, and you can have your way with my head for the next day or two.” It was a coping mechanism that worked for me. It was a way to avoid getting nervous and making things worse.

Then I noticed that my migraines weren’t the only nonliving things that I had been making friends with. The act of negotiating that way with inanimate objects was a regular part of my life. This must be some fallout left over from the shy childhood thing, or maybe it’s how I deal with my distaste for transitions. Either way, it’s no wonder I understand why my son might make friends with his magnetic letters.

I have to make friends with my food before I start eating. Sounds silly or strange, but I can’t just “dig in.”. My plate comes with the food on it, and I have to let it sit. I scope out the plate with a surreptitious glance. I used to say I was letting the food get to the right temperature. I know that I’m really giving everyone else a head start. I eat so little and get done so quickly. I grew weary of people looking at me, saying I should eat more by the time I was seven. I learned early to make it look like I ate more than I did when I wasn’t hungry. I can move food on a plate to fool the pickiest maitre de into thinking I consumed almost everything. All of that food maneuvering turned into a relationship with any food that is served to me. “Help me out here, let’s be friends.” Food and I have a deal.

This weirdness has crept onto my desk. I’m making friends with my work.

I’ve noticed a pattern. A new project arrives, and it waits in line. I have to think about it. We haven’t been properly introduced. On day 3, it might gain a place on the corner of my desk. I can say I’m looking at it. I stare at it. It stares at me. It’s the silent nagging of a long married couple who don’t need words to know what the other is thinking. I tell myself that I am cleaning my desk so that I can concentrate on the new project. Really I’m trying to decide just where this guy fits in my work universe. If things go well, this part only lasts hours.

I finish something that gives me a feeling of accomplishment. Like Holly-Go-Lightly in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” I have room for one friend because one has moved on. I pick up the new project. I’m ready to get acquainted with it. I find how I might do this and imagine a way that might look. I write a few words. Things start to relate to each other. I begin to like what I see. I form an attachment.

It’s sort of like when I meet a new friend. A relationship happens. I get involved in working on the project and start enjoying myself. Work is happening. I go with the flow.

Then a completely new project comes. It sits on the corner of my desk and stares at me—for about 30 seconds. I move it to the table behind me. It’s not due until next month.

“Sorry, you’re just going to have to wait your turn,” I say, as I move it. I get back to the friend I was working with.

Don’t even ask about my relationships with little boxes and tins. My husband says they’re more like children to me.
—me strauss Letting me be

14 comments:

IdentityMIA said...

I do this, as well. Usually only when something breaks, though. "C'mon! Just get me home and I'll get you a nice new *Insert car part here.*" And, if my car gets me home, I thank it and praise it. I've caught myself once or twice talking to things as "Friends".

ME Strauss said...

Hello IdentityMIA,
Welcome. Thanks for stopping.
I'm here to say there's nothing wrong with talking to objects as if they are friends. Though I don't go in for yelling at them. I don't think that's good for the stress level. And I'm not ready yet for that thing where people actually give them names. That's a little too far yet, in my book.
Liz

Bluesky_Liz said...

That's an interesting approach to work. :) I'd like to try just to see if it changes my approach towards organising my work.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Liz,
I have so many multiple priorities that I have to keep them in line somehow or they constantly overwhelm me. Oh, they do anyway.
smiles,
Liz

Kelley Bell said...

LOL This is wonderful Liz!

I know wht you mean about the migranes. I have had a pain in my body for years. It began in my lower back. I asked it to move, and it went to my knees. I asked it to leave, but it just moved to my chest. That was no good, so we talked again. Now it is in my shoulder blade.

My massuse and reiki friend asks "Why do you feel the need to keep this pain?"

Im not sure yet, but for now, Im going to take your advice and go make friends with my taxes.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Kelley,
Even with things, there's not much point in missing a chance to make a new friend. I just hope that the old friend that pains you finds a new friend to hang out with, maybe a post or a brick or something or even an evil tax man. :)
smiles,
Liz

Kelley Bell said...

Liz, Liz, Liz,

You crack me up Girlfriend!

Now, Please drop over to my place. My latest post is in regard to the screwy way my kids homework paper was written.

You edit school material, so I would like your input.

(and this is not the first time that they have come home with these types of confounding questions.)

Who are the people that write this stuff????

ME Strauss said...

Hi Kelley,
Sorry, I'm not ignoring. I've been so busy working to keep my own in college . . . I hard know what to do next. I'll be right there.
Liz

garnet david said...

liz- by the way I love your new pic!

I feel this way you describe about things, events and people. About practicing, about friendship about getting out of bed, about exercise.

I do things at two speeds, the way I'm supposed to do it, but really, underneath, I'm going at my own speed. This confuses people. Maybe I should just stick to the second way, my own speed, and not worry about doing it the "normal" way.

garnet david said...

I"m sorry you suffered from migranes. I hope not any longer. I found that exercise and yoga and diet help.

garnet david said...

I'm feeling the rattle again. I reread your post and have a new response. I like the idea of "making friends" with the parts of myself I don't really understand, like the different speed at which I think or do things. I do this already, but it's nice to call it something. Gentle friendlyness with your quirks.

ME Strauss said...

Wow David!
I had no clue you were triplets! All of this time I thought there was only one of you! :)

I think getting to a place where I quit trying to make myself fit and instead getting used to how it fit myself is a goal worth aspiring to. Making friends with the parts of yourself seems a good idea, since there's no getting away from you. :) Or me getting away from me.

I also make friends with my CDs.

Liz

Rain said...

That is a very spiritual way to view life, treating all objects with respect. It reminds me of the Native American way.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Rain,
Gosh, I never thought of it that way. You make me feel so special saying that. Thank you.
Liz