rebellion pt. III
by Miss What's-Your-Name-Again?
There was a word stuck in my head the other day. Just a word that I didn’t know, that I clearly either read somewhere or heard somewhere at some point, that floated back up to the top of my brain when I was digging around for some other piece of information like, where my keys are, and if they’re locked inside my car again (they were.) The word was pyrrhic. I googled it.
Pyrrhic (adj): (of a victory) won at too high a cost to have been worthwhile for the victor.
For the record, this is what I was reading when I inexplicably burst out laughing during that rather dry Nat Geo documentary on photography. If you haven’t made the connection already, this word is very relevant in school. Perhaps I thought of it the other day when I told one of you that snack was over, and you would have to save your delicious-looking chocolate muffin for lunchtime, and you looked me right in the eye and smushed that entire giant fucking muffin into your mouth, dribbling half of it down your shirt, and choking on the rest (apparently it was also rather dry) as I stared at you in wonder and said, “I hope that was worth it.”
Rebellion is a funny thing, because when you’re a kid, it truly is, quite often, a series of pyrrhic victories fought against grownups telling you to do something that is, at the heart of it, in your own best interest. And it doesn’t matter, I know, you’re right, it truly doesn’t matter one tiny bit if it’s best for you or not… sometimes it feels like we are not in control of who we have to become, and it’s just too much to be told what to do by someone else. I get it, we all get it, because it doesn’t change when you grow up. And, when you’re a grownup, no one’s really telling you what to do anymore, so it’s extra ridiculous. When someone tells you what to do as a grownup, it is usually a suggestion of a way in which to improve upon your life; it is a kindness, it’s advice. And occasionally, when you receive this friendly advice, for whatever reason you will feel your underutilized rebellious spirit rise up in you big and angry, and you will find yourself wanting to say, “GUESS WHAT I think of your advice to SWITCH TO VERIZON?! I think it’s WHY DON’T YOU JUST LAY THE FUCK OFF ME, HUH?”
The other day, I received a compliment, something I had improved upon in my work, and my utterly insane inner reaction was, “Oh yeah? I wish I HADN’T done better so that I could make it clear that I DON’T CARE ABOUT IMPRESSING YOU.” Recently, it was suggested to me, in the mildest and kindest way possible, that I consider trying meditation as a way of helping my troubled sleep. And, my inner rebel once again reared up in totally misguided umbrage, “DON’T TELL ME TO MEDITATE! YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT TO DO! I think you should take your meditation and WHY DON’T YOU JUST LAY THE FUCK OFF ME, HUH?”
When I was in high school, I was always dragging myself outside to run, in an attempt to stay in peak physical form so that I could wear my cute little field hockey uniform and sit on the bench cheering on my faster and more coordinated teammates. My father, having been a professional athlete his entire life, decided that this was an area in which he could finally truly mentor me, and insisted on accompanying me on his bicycle, so that he may proceed to run me off the road if I ran too slow for his liking. I’m not sure how tied into rebelling against my father running became for me… but I fucking HATED TO RUN. There was not a single thing I enjoyed about running. It was tiring and long and boring as shit; I was bad at it, and my dad wanted me to be good at it, so that was reason enough to have no desire to do it. Our little joint runs became so torturous to me that my mother began forbidding him to leave the house while I was on one. But my father was exceedingly clever, and one day as I was walking leisurely in my neighborhood, jamming to my minidisk player, his big, black suburban with the tinted windows slowly turned the corner and drove up level with me. The window rolled down and my father’s incredulous face appeared, as he yelled in his broken English, “WHY YOU WALK?!!”
I run all the time now. I run every day. And, somewhere between high school and now, I came not only to love it, but to need it, my own time, carved out just for me and my music and the simple joy of moving in a powerful and instinctive way. It has become, I realized, as my friend was endeavoring to sell me on meditation, my own personal kind of meditation. I run to clear my thoughts, I run to organize my thoughts, I run to celebrate, I run to grieve. I run when I’m unduly furious over being told what to do, and when I’m afraid I’m not becoming who I want to be. I think, though, I run mostly because, when I am running, I feel closest to my dad.
I have to say that having blue hair hasn’t been the transformative experience I thought it might be. I wanted to be like the kind of person who would dye her hair blue, but I did it, so I guess I was that kind of person all along. And maybe rebelling isn’t always so much fighting what you don’t want to become as it is running, as fast as our little, misguided legs can carry us, to who we’ve always been.