Last night I saw a shooting star. I always feel a thrill when I spot one… As I wrote those two previous sentences a thought streaked across my mind’s sky and crashed into my post-writer’s bubble, popping it – What do you care if I saw a shooting star and felt thrilled by it.
Isn’t that liberating! Isn’t that a thrilling shooting star of a thought!
I’m one person on this planet whom you do not have to give a shit about. I’m not being sarcastic. I’m not feeling sorry for myself. I’m not passive-aggressively hating on you. I mean it as I said it.
You don’t owe me anything and I don’t owe you anything so you don’t have to care about me not repaying you.
You are not obliged to be interested in me.
You can totally not care about me at all.
If I died in this instant… so what. It would make absolutely no difference to you. Isn’t that wonderful!
I know that may be an alarming thought to some who read it, but if it is… why is it an alarming thought?
Don’t rush to answer, let yourself sink into the space of thought and feeling stirred, and see where they lead you.
The quote above somehow goes with this post, still haven’t figured out how or why, but it told me it did. I took a screenshot of it and included the tags and likes it has on goodreads because that told me it needed to be included.
Yes, I’m nuts. Now that we’ve agreed on that, let’s move on.
I’ve never read any of John Scalzi’s books, but his quotes are an awesome read.
Which number from that list above sparkled for you the most?
Should I share which one shines out for me even if you don’t care?
Hell yeah, why not… I like #7.
I also like this quote of his:
“Here’s a quick rule of thumb: Don’t annoy science fiction writers. These are people who destroy entire planets before lunch. Think of what they’ll do to you.”― John Scalzi
A shooting star is basically something that existed for a moment, which just died, disintegrated, and its death was pretty to the human eyes which beheld it… but in a blink those eyes will soon forget it.
I was standing on the threshold of the back door when I saw the shooting star. Then I forgot about it once I went inside, shut the door, moved on to other things.
Later on I crossed the threshold of the back door again, a couple of separate times, and each time I remembered in flashback that I’d seen that shooting star… what hit me the most was how I kept forgetting it and then recalling it.
I felt caught in a weird loop like the characters in Russian Doll.
That’s a great show, btw. It’s like Groundhog Day, only instead of going to sleep, she dies… again and again and again.
Yesterday I experienced a small death, not the French kind and not an actual death, but the kind which goes with anxiety.
I was in a sweet spot before it happened, then I felt a jolt within and sweet went sour – something made me suddenly think that the upset someone was expressing online was my fault.
My old training kicked in. I felt mortified and wanted to rush to their rescue, make everything better.
But I hadn’t done anything to upset this person. I don’t think I’m on their radar as someone who exists. I’m a stat.
So… WTF!?! Instead of rushing to give myself an answer and explain the whole WTF experience away with logical analysis, I let myself sink into the space of thought and feeling, and followed the trail of stardust I found therein.
An old memory flashed up. It is one of the very first memories I have, and it is of caring for another person. I’m not sure how old I was, but based on how isolated the memory is from other memories, I was probably 4 yrs old.
I had gotten into an elevator with my father. My mother wasn’t with us in the elevator, but she was with us in the building, and would be joining us downstairs once she’d finished with whatever she was doing on that floor. I felt calm, safe. The doors of the elevator began to close…
Then it happened.
Suddenly my mother appeared outside in the corridor, running towards the doors, frantic, shouting.
I didn’t know what was going on and it scared me – if the adults are losing it, it must be the end of the world.
She threw herself at the elevator and got squished by the closing doors. My anxiety levels skyrocketed – I imagined her killed and thought it was all my fault because I had seen her, heard her, but had done nothing to save her.
That moment sealed the deal – my mother couldn’t take care of herself, I had to take care of her.
Of course that wasn’t really what sealed that deal. But that shooting star of a moment captured the feeling I had whenever I tried to get out of the deal – she might die if I did that, and her death would be my fault.
Human consciousness is intensely weird. It creates all these realities which seem so very real, but they’re science fiction.
“Sooner or later the Narrative will come for each of us.”
― John Scalzi, Redshirts
That person whose online expression of upset triggered an old habit in me which refuses to die, did a couple of other things which tied their narrative to mine, and the deal with my mother.
Before the expression of upset which made me react as though I was the culprit of it, came approving strokes for a special someone who had reacted to an earlier expression of upset, and told them they cared about them.
Shortly after that they demanded more caring from more people. Please do XYZ for me if you love me, you know how vulnerable I am right now and look how touched I was by someone showing they cared for me. I need more special someone’s in my life – don’t you all want to be my special someone’s.
Then they expressed upset at a mysterious someone else who had treated them badly – that’s the part of the pattern which finally got to me and led me to my flashback elevator.
I could feel the other preceding parts of the pattern pulling at my heartstrings, but I’ve learned to ignore those kinds of cries for caring – it never works out well for me when I allow myself to be pulled in, opened like a can of soda, emptied of my contents, then scrunched up and tossed aside angrily because I ran out of juice and they are still thirsty.
I’ve learned to be more caring towards myself, which often requires that I switch off caring for others. I don’t feel as guilty about doing that like I used to. I’ve found being more caring of myself… leads to me being more healthy in my caring for others.
“I don’t care whether I really exist or don’t, whether I’m real or fictional. What I want right now is to be the person who decides my own fate. That’s something I can work on. It’s what I’m working on now.”
― John Scalzi, Redshirts
Whether that’s really what that person was doing or not doesn’t really matter to the matters in my psyche which affect my system. The narratives within us keep coming for us until we find a The End for them.
The people in this world are constantly trying to make you care about them, their feelings, their opinions, their problems, their lives.
How many of those people give a shit about you beyond the point where they need something from you – like money, attention, service.
If they’re not trying to make you care about them, then they’re attempting to get you to care about someone else and making you feel guilty, ashamed, bad about yourself if you don’t.
Reading the news is like taking one big bite of a just how much you suck biscuit.
If they’re not trying to make you care about them or someone else, they are hacking your self-care system to get you to care about some thing, making you want to protect it or protect yourself against it.
On a daily basis we are all being spammed by messages to take care, be care-ful, don’t be care-less, pay the cost of care-ing, and don’t pay the price of not care-ing enough.
It’s exhausting… do any of us have any energy left to care about anything, anyone, ourselves?
Just when you think you can relax, pause from all the demands on you to care about everything and everyone but yourself… oh, but don’t not care about yourself either because others care about you and you must care about the burden others carry in caring for you…
Just when you think it’s okay to rest in the sweet spot in between caring and not caring… an alarm goes off, someone or something needs for you to care NOW!
It’s Valentine’s Day…
That day which is all about caring about others, caring enough to show how much you care…
Or it’s that day when you show everyone how much you don’t care if they don’t care about you, you like being careless, you don’t need anyone to care about you as long as you have chocolate… which you can buy for yourself thank you very much.
“Do not mourn me, friends
I fall as a shooting star
Into the next life.”
― John Scalzi, Old Man’s War
One of the first relationship lessons I was repeatedly taught was – you have to care about everyone except yourself.
Sub lessons included – you don’t matter, you’re nothing unless you’re something to someone else, your purpose in life is to please other people whose purpose in life is to use you to please themselves.
This lesson had to be hammered into me because I was stupid, selfish, stubborn, and all those other things which are considered bad things for a person to be by those trying to get you to care only about them and their needs.
If I wanted to be liked, and being liked by others was very important or so others told me, I had to figure out what others liked and give it to them.
It didn’t matter if I didn’t like doing that because it made me dislike myself, what mattered was to make myself likeable to others so that they could like themselves.
What I liked was irrelevant. I was irrelevant.
It felt awful to be so irrelevant and insignificant.
I spent years trying to find the magic formula to make myself relevant and significant like all those relevant and significant people around me.
But that made me into a threat and a target… and that made me want to be invisible.
“Relations were never good (how comfortable can you really be with a race that sees you as a nutritious part of a complete breakfast).”
― John Scalzi, Old Man’s War
If only I’d figured out sooner how brilliant it was to be irrelevant and insignificant to others… instead of thinking that I should be aiming for significance and relevancy.
If only I’d figured out sooner that other people not caring about you was liberating.
It frees you up to sink into that space within where you connect with your own thought, feeling, and version of caring, nurturing, nourishing, energising…
I saw a shooting star and I felt great about it… I cared about it enough to forget it, remember, forget, remember, write a weird post about it.