Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Deception of Deep Thoughts

Every day, I'm peppered with questions, like: What's your favorite color? or If you could only watch one TV show for the rest of your life, what would it be? and If you could only have one kind of food for the rest of your life, what would you choose? 

I don't like these questions and my kids pose them to me constantly. It's how my daughter defines her world, but the questions just stress me.

Now, I want to be the kind of person who has favorites, but I just don't think in those terms. I don't like to be stuck with just one when there are so many options. My favorite color for shoes might be oxblood but you can't go wrong with basic black, but I'm loving cadet blue right now and can't get enough of it! I want it in socks and sweaters and ... you get my point, yes?

Last week, I was at a store, searching for the perfect interview outfit for the interview I had yesterday for the perfect opportunity that I've been waiting years for—fingers crossed. Having found what I was looking for, I browsed through all the rest to see what could be found.

Perusing the items around the store and seeking out the clearance sale rack, my eyes happened upon a sweater that looks pretty much *exactly* like one I had back in the days of yore, when I was just out of high school and filled with angsty rage and self unawareness. A crewneck, black and white buffalo checked fuzzy sweater. Oh, I painted the town mauve wearing that sweater quite a few times. It was a time in my life when my favorites were dictated by those around me. Not having a strong preference, I would attach myself to hers... or his... or that other person's. But rarely did I assert my preference for much of anything, I just rolled with the flow, fearful of rocking the boat and saying the wrong thing.

Standing in that store and looking at that sweater, I started to spin into a web of memories and thinking about thinking and reminiscing and I was thinking I would write about it and my aversion to favorites and all of that and how much satisfaction there was after the few times when I asserted myself and made my choice or took my stand—but then I realized that I was violating my no bullshit rule, because this here was a pile of bullshit.

Thinking too much about the past is just another way I avoid living in the moment, the here and now, just like avoiding having strong opinions is. That, I'm an expert at. I also considered that my goals of today are still the goals of the girl who wore that black and white sweater in the first place. I feel arrested in the GenX slacker role I never thought I embodied, but here I am.

True, I'm not the same person I was then, but I have lived a life where I plan for the next thing or think about the last thing and avoid the current moment that might be uncomfortable or scary or challenging. That girl did the same thing, filling each moment with action so there was no time to think. And that's just bullshit. No more of that.

Not living in the moment is a very unhelpful thing to do when you're setting goals and trying to figure out what you want—if you never focus on yourself, how do you know what you want? What you like? What your favorite is? Yes, a favorite color is maybe not a life-changing statement, but it's a step in the direction of focusing on the moment.

As much as it pains me to pick a favorite, I'm going to start naming them. My daughter has her whole life ahead of her and I don't want her to be a self unaware unhappy young adult like I was, one who works hard at everything except what's important. And maybe when I take my own small stand make my choices, it will encourage her to continue to name the things that are important to her.

And for the record? My color is green, my show is The Office and I want all the Italian food.

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