It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Looking Glass World

We want life to make sense. Yet it doesn’t.

We believe in Cause and Effect, clinging to the notion that our existence will follow a logical path. Yet it won’t.

We rise in the morning with a plan that the day will occur just so. We base our expectations on past experiences and our understanding of life and the people who travel with us. Yet events unwind and unravel anyway.

We speak and expect a certain, logical response … and we are surprised when something unexpected occurs instead.

One moment you’re laughing and sharing stories with a friend. family member or coworker. Then, without warning you are covered in Humpty Dumpty’s shattered shell, certain only moments before he was secure up on that wall. But now, despite great effort, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t seem to put Humpty Dumpty — or that relationship — back together again.

One moment, you are off to a simple Tea Party. Then, somehow, you are surrounded by mad people and never get a cup of tea at all.

One moment, life is simple and the project is under control. The next moment the Red Queen is yelling for your head.

different-personOne moment, you know exactly where you going and who you are. Then, you slip down a Rabbit Hole, chasing a White Rabbit who carries a pocket watch and is somehow chronically late to everything, and you find yourself interrogated by a Caterpillar. You follow directions, drinking and eating things as you are told. But you are stuffed into a teapot and lost anyway, discovering you don’t know who you are because somehow you have changed.

We seek logic, order and control. But, life is a grand, unpredictable mystery full of players who go off script much too often. It’s an ongoing Adventure to keep you moving, with good, bad, evil, sadness, loss, surprise, despair, excitement, tears, boredom etc etc. Life is anything but logical and predictable, no matter how we try to make it so. It’s full of impossibilities and rabbit holes and mixed up messages and conversations that make no sense and occurrences that are anything but what they seem. And when you find yourself wondering where you are going, what the heck went wrong or what road to take now, you realize that the Cheshire Cat was correct after all. If you don’t know where you are going than it doesn’t truly matter what road you take to get there.  made-sense

And that’s when I find that no matter how I look at it, it’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Looking Glass World and I am Lewis Carroll’s Alice, stating that it would be ever so nice if something made sense for a change.

Have you ever read Alice Through the Looking Glass – or Alice in Wonderland for that matter? Wonderland was created in 1865, while the Looking Glass sequel was published in 1871. They have long been considered classic children’s tales but few children actually read them anymore. Many have seen the Disney-inspired Alice cartoon or the more recent live action adventures with Mia Wasikowska and Johnny Depp. But it all began with a story told to entertain a little girl.

But did you know that these two little books have inspired hundreds of subsequent works, including a seemingly endless number of books, films, TV series, comic books, manga art, graphic novels, and even role-play and video games? We find fascination in Nonsense.

This doesn’t surprise me. I love everything Alice. Her imagination, cleverness, witty repartee with Dinah, Hatter, Cheshire, and Absalom the Caterpillar — and the manner in which she deals with the numerous creatures — make her compelling. I admire her adventurous spirit as well as her unquenchable, limitless curiosity which enable her to venture beyond the constraints dictated to her by society, rules, Queens and authority figures who make the rules. She won’t be told or limited.

Why all this Alice, you ask? Perhaps I should have begun by saying this was a book review. My year began reading Alice Through the Looking Glass. And as I read, I related to life in Wonderland … a world full of nonsensical occurrences with moments where nothing mad3makes sense or follows an expected, logical order. After all, we are all Mad … the Best people are you know. And our world is strewn with flowers who criticize and call you a weed and oysters gullible enough to be misled by a clever walrus. And despite warnings, the Jabberwocky looms ahead, a beast we don’t understand but battle all the same.

Somehow, amidst the Nonsense, we can find Hope. We can embrace the Impossible and find Adventure in the Wonder happening around us. And we will continue to make our way down the path. I guess that’s why I love Alice so much. Her curiosity and sense of adventure keep her from giving up when she gets lost and give her the courage to love the Bandersnatch and battle the Jabberwocky.

Don’t try to dissect Alice. There’s truth in nonsense. Pick up the book or jump through the Looking Glass and see where it takes You … Jenni

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Not the blog I planned to write.

“These people are so damned proud of their hatred! Hatred is easy, and lazy to boot.It’s love that demands effort, love that exacts a price from each of us.  Love costs; this is its value.”

– from The Fate of the Tearling, Erika Johansen

When I sat down to write today, this wasn’t how I planned to spend my time. I had a whole analysis of Alice Through the Looking Glass as the intended focal point. But, something got stuck in my craw which changed everything.

The other day, life did not go as expected. I’m sure you’ve had those days too — who hasn’t? — but let me elaborate. It was my day off, and I had appointments and plans. They all got done. But, something happened along the way that made the day less than what I hoped it would be.

Bad service. Poor treatment by those I put my trust in. That’s pretty much the straw that broke this camel’s back. I was treated badly — or I perceived myself to be treated poorly which is, for all intents and purposes since perception is my reality — all that mattered.

I had a doctor appointment and received poor customer service. Now, to be fair, it was an appointment with an optometrist, which comes with expectations since my dad was a prominent, successful optometrist who set high standards during his 45 years in practice. Dad cared about each and every patient. And, as a member of his staff, I learned how to treat a customer … and what kind of actions were not acceptable.

It began with a wait time of 45 minutes without so much as a word from the staff to apologize for the delay. I was ignored while the staff talked and discussed, with an obvious attitude of disdain and frustration, changes in the office right in front of me. That set me off, making me uncomfortable. Then, there was the appointment itself. It just felt … off. I didn’t feel at ease … and when it comes to eye care, I do know my stuff.

I left over an hour later than I expected to be on my way, annoyed and dissatisfied with everything about that last 90 minute experience. My day was wrecked. Oh, I did a variety of things to try bring it back to center. Random acts of kindness always help. But, I was pretty pissed off. And no matter what I tried to do, I couldn’t completely shake it.

After a good night sleep, I felt better. Then, amazingly, I experienced some of the best customer service I had received lately in the following 48 hours. This improved my overall outlook immensely and reminded me that there are people and businesses out there who truly choose to make experiences all the more pleasant. It’s all in the way they handle the encounter.

No matter how much yoga or how many hot bubble baths I take, people still get to me. I care too deeply, perhaps. I open myself up. And, I get hurt sometimes. No matter my decision to not allow people or situations power, there are those that hurt me without a second thought … sometimes intentionally, sometimes with a careless act, sometimes because of stuff going on with them that I know nothing about and sometimes for reasons I don’t understand — which can actually cause the deepest pain of all.

I’m pretty sure this optometrist and his staff did not mean to offend. They don’t know the emotional markers I carry or expectations I have as a result of being an Optometrist’s Daughter. I know that most people don’t get up in the morning with an idea of inflicting discomfort or pain on others. But, offend they did. And I will choose a new optometrist as a result … just like I will choose to find a better place for my energy, time, and emotion when people or situations cause me pain.

Another thing I can choose is how I respond, though. I can respond by getting annoyed and snippy, which I’m ashamed to say I did on Wednesday. Or, I can choose to let it go, accept the situation for what it is and love anyway.

You may choose not to be my friend or not to provide me with great service or not cast me in a play or not select me for a project or not return my phone call or not follow-up on my request (or not “fill-in-the-blank”) BUT I can still choose to respond graciously and with compassion. I can still choose Love, Hope and Light.

Life is truly made up of choices … and though “reacting” is a choice, my bad day was a clear reminder to me that I do not want to check that box! Bad service or unkind treatment don’t mean that I should respond with negative energy or thoughts. A debate or disagreement with a loved one, family member or friend doesn’t have to result in bloodshed, years of not speaking or unfriending. I’ve seen to much of that in my lifetime. It’s unpleasant and sad.

Paths diverge from time to time and some issues can’t be bridged. I am affected by life’s ebbs and flows. But, it also doesn’t mean I should “freak out” It doesn’t mean I won’t still care or that I should be unkind back. If I learned anything this week, it’s that I want to choose the higher path.  Oh I’m not perfect. I’m a work in progress. But I choose. No one else does.

I guess that’s what I figured out on Wednesday. To remember when the storm hits, that my roots are strong. I was upset in that office and I carried that anger with me all day long, allowing it to affect my mood and attitude, when I should have been a bigger person. But, looking back, I guess it taught me something.

Yeah, I had a bad day. Those will come. Mean people may come my way. People and situations may hurt me. People may reject or treat me poorly. But, I will do my best to Love anyway. I choose to Be Kind. Guess there was something I needed to learn this week about Stamina and Love. They are more powerful than the shadows of bad service and meanness.

But only when you choose Hope and Kindness.

                                                                                                                           — Jenni