The Monster
Saturday, May 5, 2012 at 10:53AM
Elena Taurke in Aging, Atonement, Feminism, Inclusion, People Getting Old, PsychoZen Meets Life

In the moments before ballet class was to begin, I was hanging over my legs, trying to find the inner awareness of my spine.  Suddenly, improbably, I felt another body in my space--an intruder!  I quickly rolled up to encounter a grotesque face, and it was actually asking me to take a step back to make room for her.   I concealed my horror and annoyance (I think), and tried to explain that she was not in a good position, having encroached also on the person in front of her, who had nowhere to go.    She didn't understand and I gave up, insuring that I would encounter her at close quarters for the remainder of the class.

Soon it became very clear that she didn't have the least idea of what to do.   If she was lucky, she'd get a fraction of each exercise, but mostly she would stand and shuffle in that panicked way that beginners do.  Please understand that I am normally very very sympathetic to this state of being, because that is almost always my condition.   But in this case, instead of smiling and helping her if I could, I was frozen each time I saw her face.   Perhaps she was my age, perhaps a decade older.  It was impossible to tell because The Face was carved and inflated (was it botox?  was it  collagen?) to render it without distinction or expression.  You look at the eyes and think, at least the eyes should say something, but in fact they do not, if the skin around the eyes does not move.  

A monster, I thought.  And then pulled up short.  Where was my compassion?  Where was my understanding?  Like all of us, she is as much victim as perpetrator.  What were the forces that made this happen?   What did she think she would achieve?  Beauty?  Love?  Later, as we moved to the center, I saw her arranging herself in the mirror.  Ok, look, we all do that a little, but it seemed to be part of the tragedy in this case.  I presumed that she was seriously lacking the subjective experience of self, or being, and that she was looking for her self in the mirror.  What did she see, I wondered.   Did she see a success or did she realize somewhere the hideous effect of all the manipulation?  If she did, how could she ever convey it?  

And then, the biggest question of all:  What, exactly can be done?  What are the skillful means?  It makes me think of the judgemental green people.  I am one of them.  I snarl when offered a plastic bag.  I silently criticize those who accept them.  And I know very well that this attitude will not improve the world.  People need to speak out about plastic, about carbon emissions, about sustainable living; yet speaking with a a moral tone is worse than silence because such tone causes people to judge you back, possibly despise you, and then punish you through more egregious violation of the environment, which can't fight back (at least not right away).  

So I said nothing to The Face.  If she comes again, though, with or without her body, I vow that I will take a breath to soften and consider what I do not know about her history.  I will try very hard to give her a smile of encouragement, even though I know she will be unable to respond.  I will watch my mind and I will endeavour to be steady instead of leaping to judgement like an obediant puppy.  She, like me, is only trying to be happy.   

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