Monday, May 2, 2011

Nurse Jackie: Loneliness, Rejection, Anger, Urgency, Heaviness

There is probably no fictional character I have ever identified with more than Nurse Jackie. For those who don't know: Jackie, played by the great Edie Falco, is an uber-competent, deeply empathetic nursing professional at a busy New York City hospital. Jackie is happily married to a great guy who loves her and she has two beautiful little girls. She is also a full-on drug addict who steals her pills from the hospital's stash. And, she is having an affair with another drug addicted hospital employee. They even do drugs and have sex in the hospital on work time! (As we know from an earlier blog post, this is really a crossed line.)

Lest you feel concern that I am about to reveal to you a secret drug addiction and/or lover, let me put your mind at ease. Those who know my Facebook posts know that I drink beer, only occasionally to excess. And I really am a happily married woman if the "happily" part refers only to being married to my husband rather than what really exists in my head. That's the part where Jackie and I are kin.

I know EXACTLY what it's like to be a nice white middle-aged wifey, mothery, worky lady on the outside who is seething with DIFFICULTY BEING HERE on the inside. I can be with my children, who are my reward in this world (thank you, Universe), enjoying their beautiful presence while simultaneously in despair. Sometimes it leaks out real real bad; it's always simmering underneath. I am constantly connected to the deeper and bigger picture, which, in my view, is not only SO FUCKED UP but, also, almost everything I am required to participate in is connected with fucking it up further. It is miraculous that I am only a minor beer-abuser and not, like my doppelganger, a drug addict.

I shared this quote from Derrick Jensen (in the premises for his book, Endgame (Volume 1): The Problem of Civilization) in the summary of my Master's project essay:

Civilization is not and can never be sustainable. This is especially true for industrial civilization…The longer we wait for civilization to crash…the messier it will be…The culture, as a whole, and most of its members are insane. The culture is driven by a death urge, an urge to destroy life…From the beginning, this culture—civilization—has been a culture of occupation…From birth on…we are individually and collectively enculturated to hate life, hate the natural world,…hate women, hate children, hate our bodies, hate and fear our emotions, hate ourselves. If we did not hate [ourselves and] the world, we would not allow it to be destroyed before our eyes. (2006, pp. ix-xi)

Q: What happens if I am just totally and utterly done with my culture? What happens if I can't compartmentalize my complicity in gross worldwide injustices and atrocities, as a person living in corporate, bordered, banal consumerland? How do I feel and be me and live in this? Oh, and let's say I have ideas about how we could improve things but because I act on those ideas I face constant imagined and real rejection when I am a big fucking lonely baby? And what happens when I'm a big fucking baby period and just don't want to deal with being scheduled and proper channeled to death?

A: A great deal of difficulty and no inner peace (yet; sometimes I think this path of facing shit head on may eventually lead me there) and a lot of anger and almost no place to process any of it.

As a person who is trying to convince people to move forward and as a practitioner of yoga, I am aware of rhetorical strategies and tools to find inner peace. But we DO NOT LIVE IN A TIME OF PEACE. Inner peace and rational arguments are not enough when our civilization is a foregone conclusion. We live in a time of intense urgency that I believe can only be addressed by changing our cultural and neurobiological foundations: stay in vulnerability, recreate our relationship to fear. I feel it so viscerally and I feel my understanding and ensuing actions to be so futile--like why should I carry the responsibility of knowing and feeling it if I can do so little--that sometimes I want my exploding head to just have done with itself.

When I did a Human Body Project engagement in New York last month at the Union Theological Seminary, one woman said that my central concept was vulnerability. But my real central concept is desperate urgency. I've got nothing against solar panels or hybrid cars or one-person-one-vote or a lot of other good civilization-created ideas. But I believe none of those things will help humanity survive if enough of us don't change in the cultural and evolutionary sense I work with in the HBP, like yesterday.

Q: How can we do this when almost all of our structures reflect and support a monetary bottom-line system in which corporations (and governments and other corporate entities) have the legal rights of an individual without the consciousness/conscience of one and own or control most of our shared planet?

I got no A.

The other day, I had a rare lunch date. My friend told me she said to her boyfriend: "I'm going to see Tasha. She's heavy. I like that." Heavy is okay for some but I would probably be easier to deal with, for myself and for others, if I was a drug addict. Maybe I would be one except that my motivation for continuing (the Human Body Project, living on Earth) is my children and a drug-addicted mother would not be easier for them to deal with. Says a lot about kids.

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