How to Not Sweat The Small Stuff (even when it feels like BIG stuff)
Feet are actually the most bizarre, alien-looking objects. Like, look at your feet! Look at them! They’re so weird! Don’t take offence—I too am currently looking at the obscureness of my own. Why have feet seemed so normal and then BAM, now we’re actually looking at them properly, they look all webbed and veiny and finger-nail-y like some albino amphibious limb? Right now, toes are reminding me of shoots off a demented mung bean. Oh goodness . . . we’re animal-plant monsters. Help. I want to see my feet as normal again.
Ever get like that? Those days when you can’t spell the most basik werds becuss when you luke at them when spelt wright, they suddenly don’t look write (rite? wriyte? I give up. I’ll be a janitor). The werd lookes weered, and you spend the nekst ten miniuties starreng at it, cwestioning its existentz. Or when you wonder where the word “chimney” came from and why it was assigned to the actual object (“yes, my dear chap. That smoke hole looks like a ‘chimney’ to me. Let’s get that in writing”). Or when someone’s name is said too many times—eg: “Emily“—and it loses its meaning; it’s now just this random sound that someone produces, and you wonder why its just accepted that this is purely a girl’s sound—let alone the fact that the creator must have thought: “I’m going to use this sound as the noise that refers to my newborn child.” Oh muffins, these are the questions that want answering.
The thing we are doing here is actually quite amazing: the power of elimination. We’re taking away all the cloaks from these very simple things, that our world and/or our mind, have covered it with; covered for so long that we don’t even realise the cloaks are there . . . and now we’re left with the raw product. Some people would call this “putting things into perspective.” It’s quite shocking sometimes, as if we’ve just risen up through several atmospheres to look back at where we were: a tiny part of a tiny planet that once seemed like the entire universe for us.
We get so caught up and lost amongst the takeaway coffee cups, the busy streets, the prestigious suburbs, titles, institutions, university degrees; the competitive nature of humankind, the bank accounts, the images on magazines, the shopping channel (the next time I see an ad about the Nutri-Bullet I think I’m going to vertically kayak to Mars). . . . All of this engulfs us constantly, so when we get stressed and panicky about the oddest things, we don’t sit down and actually realise how gratuitous this white noise in our heads is. It seems valid and understandable because we never remove ourselves from it.
When we do, we end up with the feet-situation. Recovering from anorexia I had to stack on a lot of weight—doing so in a really short period of time—and I don’t think I would have been able to continue if I didn’t look at the facts for what they primarily WERE, without human-constructed stigma, ideologies and attitudes veering me off the actuality of what was happening to me.
I was afraid of fat. Actual fat. Being fat. Feeling fat. I kind of knew but didn’t really see that fat is a physical thing and that’s it. I sat down and I thought about it. Fat—immediately all these harrowing ideas flooded my mind from every crevice of my brain. Stop. What is fat? Not what it means—if we’re asking ourselves what it means, we’re looking at what humans have constructed the thing to mean; we aren’t looking at what it simply is. For this exercise, you’ve got to be existential. Nothing has a point—stop trying to make everything mean something, or have an outcome for some particular thing, or the power to determine one’s destiny— and just look.
After a while, fat became a strange new discovery—like I was seeing it for the first time. Fat wasn’t the all-encompassing umbrella under which all facets of negative and evil earth-bound activity huddle. I don’t want to be fat. Get rid of your fat. Fat-loss—become confident! Where in the world did this come from? Fat is a form of tissue under the skin. That’s it. It’s got nothing to do with confidence, nothing to do with how you will view yourself, nor does it dictate your capacity to have a happy and fulfilling approach to life. It’s tissue. It has no power until you start seeing what the world has turned it into: a money maker, an industry fueler and a very destructive hope-inducer that suggests, once losing some of that tissue under the skin, all the things wrong in your life will get better—or at least lessen the dissatisfaction you currently reside in (you’re life’s in a heap? Well, at least you’re pretty.”—What?!) . This is utterly absurd, and I can guarantee—having done the opposite of what society encourages via my 15kg weight gain—I’m happier than I have ever been in my life, and it’s got nothing to do with how little or how much lipid tissue my body accommodates for its own means and purposes, which my mind has no business with. Fat has lost its importance via the feet-effect, and I will never grant it more significance in my life than is due to it (which isn’t very much).
For others it may be missing special events, feeling excluded, stressing over a circle with etchings on it that makes “tick-tock” noises when you’re in a quiet room with other separated humans, all looking at a thin piece of bleached paperbark with odd inscriptions on it (apparently the human species call these “questions”), using a device with liquid in it to fill in the gaps between the odd inscriptions with similar inscriptions (these are dubbed “answers,” so I’m told), to give to a man/woman at the front of the enclosed shelter when a loud noise makes itself known, so that an odd symbol called a percentage can be determined by what is on/not on the paperbark. Do you see what I’m getting at? It’s not so important after all.
It all sounds like common sense, but seeing as we’ve all been conditioned to use common sense, well, conditionally (we should be calling it rare sense, because it isn’t that common anymore), I thought it might be nice to suggest how to go about learning how to break big things down to very little details. Flat, basic, meaningless facts that are left for you to determine the meaning of. Yes, now it’s finally up to you to choose what you want to make of them. It’s your life—everything that occupies it, you have the right to make it—in your mind—whatever you want! Make it special, make it nothing—whatever serves your best interests. Friends mean everything to me, and fat means nothing. This is how I make myself happy in this world. You can see nothing as a miracle, or see everything as a miracle, as Einstein once said. It’s all you’re choice once you’re made aware of how things really are. (You have so much power! You’re the king of your own existence, if not of anyone else’s). And remember, the best things in life are often the smallest of things—so don’t sweat them. Sweat is a very strange now I think of it—
Don’t you start, Lauren.