Sunday, August 24, 2008

Push & Pull


My meditations last night came in the form of monotonous physical labor. As I knelt on sodden towels chipping away at the inches-thick ice on the shelves of my freezer with a butter knife, I found myself with plenty of time to ruminate.

Pleased with myself for working at something tangible and useful, my thoughts drifted quite naturally to my father. I was determined to begin and complete this task in one sitting, clearing away the frost, emptying the freezer of outdated items, thoroughly wiping it down inside and out, and restocking it with the fruits of my labors from the past two days - freezer jam made from 18 pounds of blackberries our family picked by hand. Dad would be proud.

The thought of speeding my work up with my hairdryer flitted through my head like a moth toward a lamp. Just as quickly that notion was dismissed. If there was one thing my father had taught me after working for the power company for 35 years, it was how dangerous electricity could be. And I was actually considering sitting in a puddle of water and plugging an appliance in? I don't think so. Actually, the consistent plugging away was satisfying. I managed to chip a substantial chunk of ice off every four or five minutes - just enough to keep me feeling as though my efforts were being rewarded.

Poke, poke, poke. How much am I really like my father today? Poke, poke, poke. I was so desperate to make him proud of me as a child. I emulated him in so many ways. Poke, poke, poke - chips of ice flew around the inside of the freezer, settling like snow. I remember the qualities Dad hated - weakness, indecision, lack of confidence, followers. Poke, poke, poke. I can envision the people who embodied those things and the way I tried to distance myself from them. Poke, poke, crash - an iceberg loosened its grip on the metal shelf and fell to the one below. The desire to NOT be any of those things was so strong.

The strength of a magnet is equal in both directions. When two similar poles are put together, the force that pushes them apart is no stronger than the force that pulls two opposite poles together.

Admiration for certain qualities in others often causes me to strive to attain similar qualities. This desire, however, is nowhere near as strong as the aversion I feel for other qualities. As a teenager, I was determined NOT to be like my mother. As a young pregnant woman, I was certain I would NOT have a baby who sucked on a pacifier or screamed in public. In my twenties, I swore I would not start coloring my hair simply to cover any grey ones that might show up when the time came. Regardless of my ability to control any of these outcomes, my distaste for these scenarios was strong and visceral. I found it much easier and, indeed, more desirable, to push away from certain things than I have ever found it to pull toward other things.

I spent much of my youth trying NOT to be certain things and not enough time asking who I might end up being as a result. Pushing away from something does not necessarily mean that you will end up nearer the opposite (and therefore good) object. Perhaps my time would be much better spent identifying where I want to go and exercising my muscles by pulling.

I can't say that I came to any earth-shattering conclusions, but the questions were interesting. And my freezer is gorgeous inside and out.

7 comments:

Jerri said...

You say you didn't come to any earth-shattering conclusions, but I think the idea of focusing on where you want to go and working toward something rather than away from something else is pretty darned profound.

Think I'll go clean out my frig and ponder that idea.

Scott from Oregon said...

Heck, I woulda just unplugged my freezer and turned it on its side, then gone off for a beer...

Michelle O'Neil said...

Ooooo! A great place to be in. What do I want and why? Only forward!

Eileen said...

This gives me so much to think about. Making that shift in pulling toward instead of pushing away is all about knowing yourself better and inner growth.

Thanks for bringing clarity to what I have been struggling with.

XXXXX

Carrie Wilson Link said...

LOL Scott from Portland! What a metaphor the chipping at the ice was, unblocking, thawing, shape shifting...

Irene said...

Yes, I understand this about what you don't want to be, but it takes a while to figure out what you do want to be instead. I think I have finally done that now and I am 53 years old. I finally have a definition of myself and it has nothing to do with what anyone else in my life was before me.

I hope you get there quicker than I did.

Deb said...

This is so lovely. So are you.

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