Sometimes I wake up in the morning in a frame that doesn't fit. You know what I mean. It's the way we see ourselves in the morning. Sometimes the frame feels like it belongs to someone else, someone I don't even know. It's too small, it's too big, I can't 'see' myself at all. I don't fit. It doesn't fit me. Who is responsible for this?
And often it stays that way all day. Unlike Alice, I can't go through that framed mirror in my mind's eye. I have to live with what I've got, at least for a time.
Did the frame come during a dream? Did I get into it because of a state of mind? Is it because I ate too much, had one extra glass of wine?
I had a friend who said, "We all think of ourselves with stage lighting." Well sometimes the light technician doesn't get it right. But who is the technician? Too often I can see him or her with a very unhappy face, often grumbling, muttering away, because once again they have been called to the set.
I believe we see ourselves as costumed, too. And for me those days when the frame doesn't fit, the lighting isn't right, the costumer has gone on strike. "Do it yourself," says the note pinned to the costume department door. And then everything in there is too small or way too big, or colors I hate.
I suppose one of the things that dictates the whole scene, is knowing the story. But how do we know the story? And whose story is it anyway? When life was unrestricted by pandemic and politics, one could get up in the morning and know exactly how to proceed. Sweats for exercising, walking. Casual for shopping, comfortable but carefully stylish. Evenings out? A special jacket, earrings, maybe even something different with your hair. You could see it all clearly in that eye of your mind. The structure of work may have been a good frame. After all, there were people to see, lunches to be had out, jobs to be done that gave a sense of accomplishment.
And the frame could shift during the day, but somehow they all felt pretty right, pretty in keeping with the who of you.
When I first retired, I had this same problem. Everything felt a bit off, the frames a bit crooked, the lighting too harsh or too dim, the clothes never comfortable or fit for the occasion.
"Too much thought about how you look? How you see yourself?" you ask. Well, probably. But raised with so much input about how one should look, especially to others, placed an indelible stamp on me and I can't get out of that place in my head. I try not to care, but it just won't work. I used to find an identity, a frame, by observing others I admired, or reading about them. Or seeing them on the big screen, or the little one. And I could choose the soundtrack that went with those images, too.
Now it's all happening again. The pandemic has thrown all of us off balance. We don't have a template for just being in this world at this place in this time. Nobody seems to be able to stick to a coherent message about just how much danger we are in, or when this all might become manageable. It's different every single day.
Not only are there days when the frame isn't right, there are days, like today, when I can't even see myself. I am lost.
I've been framed by circumstance, not by choice.
"Look for the things that ground you," they say. "Look for the things that give you joy." And yes that's right. That does help.
So today I will tell you five things that make me happy, that lift a bubble of joy, that take me out of the frame I don't want and free me to choose one of my own making:
Fresh blackberries, chestnut tea, tomatoes still warm from the vine, a good mystery, my grandchildren's smiles.
Now, perhaps, I can wriggle out of the frame I woke up in, and choose something more fitting.