Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Breaking Habits and Being a Hero

How long does it take to break a habit?  The twenty-one day thing, I have read, is a myth.  Ninety days is more like it.  I'm two weeks in.  Today I get on the scale.  God help me.  I am terrified.  I don't feel so very thin.  And apparently (or is it supposedly?) I am still habituated.  I call them rituals, but. . . whatever.  

Another gloomy day in the formerly Sunny South.  It seems we are destined never to see the sun again, at least not this winter.  I know you all have your weather troubles no matter where you live, so I am hoping/guessing/wishing that you can relate.  

On the weight thing, though. . . maybe it is economic.  From my conservative friend:

I can’t think of seeing a single fat person living near me. Do they live somewhere else or do fat people stay off the sidewalks? Walmart down the road has plenty of them. I like Walmart. It makes me feel like I am somebody. I don’t think there is a single thing in there that I can’t pay cash for if I want it. Tiffanys has the opposite effect. 

There are some nice neighborhoods I can’t afford to live in. I think those people must have stolen something from me. 

He is being clever, of course.  He always makes me laugh. . . but something else, too.  The grains of truth he sprinkles. . . is he making fun of me?  There are not fat people in my neighborhood, either. . . except for me.  I think it was Covid that did it, though.  People with money don't seem to suffer from that so much.  Walmart shoppers, on the other hand. . . . 

Of course he is.  He is mean and viscous at heart.  Like most people, he loves a story that involves a person's fall.  Surely it is always deserved.  It's not like we are Job, right?  Though that story always bothered me, God making wagers with the Devil.  

I have fallen from the great heights.  It is a tragedy!

Ha!  I used to teach tragedy.  It is distinguished from the fall of an anti-hero or an everyman.  When one of them falls, no one further than a few feet away hears it.  

I call upon "The Fall of Icarus," formerly attributed to Bruegel.  Pink circle by/about me.  Let Auden explain. 

Musee des Beaux Arts 

W. H. Auden 

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.

In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

You know The Myth of Icarus, right?  Surely.  How do we escape the insolvable labyrinth? 

There, then.  That should do it.   

If I know some of you, though, you skipped through the poem and barely looked at the painting.  WTF?  And that is how I know I am not a hero, only a middling diarist of little import.  

And just now, as I ponder all this, my Country Cousin, C.C., sends me a photo from breakfast. 

You can Google them or give them a call.  It's "country" cooking, Walmart style.  He torments those of us trying to escape the horde.  Ho!

He, too, taught tragedy.  

But 99% of the country cares nothing for such things.  Many believe that everyone sees their Facebook page or Instagram or Twitter.  We are all Major Players now.  We all have the tiny megaphone.  

Miller was wrong and Williams was right.  That's Arthur and Tennessee.  Willy Loman was not tragic.  He was a small man.  Williams understood the grandiosity of mind that existed in his anti-heroes.  Take "A Streetcar Named Desire," Stanley Kowalski and Blanche DuBois.  Oh, my.  

Or. . . if you haven't read all that. . . say Pepe Le Pew.  

Can you believe I just make this all up on the spot?  Really.  I don't plan any of this; it just spews forth like a. . . .  

Insert your own trope.  

It is late and I'd better start my day.  I slept long and late last night.  I have much to do today.  The rest of the week will be fairly busy.  Now, it is time to go get weighed.  

You'll be first to know.  

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