Thinking about metaphysics again.
Some babies are read fairytales, some spend their hours listening to npr, but I was a baby who learned the imprint of human voices that carried waves through long monologues that basically consisted of the philosophization of metaphysical principles.
They seemed very malleable back then – haha I hope you get the joke or at least understand that I’m making a joke.
I was raised first listening to, then actively participating in friendly debates in relation to one man’s idea of the nature of reality.
I was told taking short cuts is for sissies.
I was quite present and needing love, comfort, acceptance, while listening to the man who gave me shelter talk himself in circles about the nature of reality.
Is it even real? What is real? Is this table real if it consists of the same material – particles – that make up things that are invisible? How can a molecule create something solid if it can also create something invisible, and not at all able to hold me.
The way, for example, the ground can hold me. Can it, though? Can it really? I mean, what are we made of? Is the ground solid? Is it real? What is real?
My mind grew this way. Not the way a tree grows around a chain link fence, but the way her roots grow in soil and reach out to form part of the network.
Short cuts are for wimps.
It means you can’t do the real thing.
And as I got older, I would respond “But what is reality?” and he would laugh. Ah, you got me there. But I hadn’t really. I had regurgitated a simple sentence that I didn’t understand back to the man who taught me the sentence. He expected it.
This was my safe space.
The spaces unlike this were cold. Unpredictable.
I was raised to wait for the second marshmallow. I was shown more than sugar for my patience. Approval. Ding. Praise. Ding.
And if I did not wait, something slightly different. Just a few degrees cooler. A simple, ‘oh’ in a tone I had learned was reserved for disappointment, exclusion. A ‘maybe next time’. A passing over.
Having watched the reaction of others who had been passed over.
So, I waited.
But sometimes ‘real’ life got in the way of those little games and I was left in the care of another while I sat at the table and waited for my second marshmallow, the first sitting perfectly still in front of me.
The creators of the test he used weren’t cruel – marshmallows don’t radiate smell like a bowl of soup. I wasn’t starving. But looking back, I see that it wasn’t an act of kindness.
The marshmallow was chosen to eliminate factors, to bring about the cleanest results possible.
And when I was put into the room under a certain set of circumstances and ‘real’ life got in the way, another scientist would come in to get me.
Angry about something that I never understood. Mean for reasons I couldn’t shush with my keen ability to follow rules.
No matter what I did with or for the second scientist, there was no way to predict how she would react whether I listened to the rules or not.
More often than not, the rules didn’t make sense. Not to me.
Sit down. Shut up. Go away. Leave me alone. Come here. Do you see what I’m doing here? Stop that. Someone’s coming over, get your finger out of your nose – we’re not heathens.
Watch tv, not too loud, I’m on the phone, don’t push your sister, I said not too loud, don’t you see I’m busy, what’s wrong with you, why can’t you listen to me, you know how to listen and I know because I hear about it all evening long, you’re doing this on purpose, you’re trying to punish me, you’re a little shit disturber, go outside, you’re driving me crazy.
And I never got the second marshmallow.
So, the next time the first scientist would tell me it was time to go into the room, I’d say no.
That was part of the game. Saying no. There was always space allowed for the weird and wonderful things tiny humans did. Because we are pure. We have no confines other than those we learn. Those we are taught.
Why not? Did I do something wrong? No, of course not. Not you. It could never be him. Or the scientist wouldn’t play. ‘Real’ life would get in the way much more quickly.
The conditions couldn’t have been more perfect. Those that were controlled. And those that couldn’t be controlled.
I am still struggling with the concept of short cuts. They seem deeply rooted as a sure fire way to bring collapse to everything I’ve worked so hard to create.
One short cut and it might all crumble. The entire idea I’m basing a life on might be claimed by the sea while I have my back turned tending to the small fire I created with a short supply of sticks and kindling that I rushed to gather as twilight approached, having been distracted all day by an elusive school of fish.
What is a short cut? I don’t know exactly. That definition, as many others, was left open-ended.
And it seemed fun at first. Considering the alternative. It was fun until I suddenly found myself on the beach beneath approaching night scrambling to find a safe place to sleep.
Kiss me now, I have food in my lungs.