Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dear Zero-Sum


Dear Zero-Sum,

Somewhere along my young adulthood, I adopted you as my philosophy of life.  Not in the sense of 'one gets more and so another gets less', but more 'for every gain there is a loss'.

Of course, it is not without reason that I have this theory.  You wouldn't know it now--with my stable and happy life with my family--but to say that I had an unstable childhood is quite an understatement.  As a result of, um, circumstances, I had lived in at least four different homes from birth to age five; attended five different schools between first grade and twelfth grade; lived in two different cultures and spoke two different languages by the time I had two digits to my age.

All this moving and living with different people and in different countries on top of other emotional tolls were indeed unsettling for me, to say the least.  As my life became more stabilized and established in young adulthood, I began to believe that the good relationships I developed with Dear Husband and a few Dear Friends were 'making up' for the transient life I lived as a child.  I found the stability that I craved, and so my early losses were countered by my later gains.

That is not to say that my adult life has been without bumps in the road.  A very blissful marriage was jolted by years of infertility.  Financial stability was rocked by lengthy unemployment.  Personal relationships were tested by anger, rejection, humiliation, and distrust.  But for each obstacle, we always bounced back, so for every loss, there has been a gain.  Somehow it all evened out.  Zero-sum.

Many events throughout my life validated this philosophy.  Recently, even a few minor incidents reminded me of my zero-sum theory once again.

A few weeks ago, I was putting on my gas permeable contact lenses in a hurry.  After I put them in, I immediately let go of the stopper in the sink and rinsed off my contact case.  Only to realize that one eye is still blurry.  Oh, nooooooooo!  That contact did not go onto my eye!  My heart sank.  I was sure that it went down the drain.  I wished with all my might that maybe I'd find it on the counter somewhere.  Please, please, please, please, please!  It turned out that someone was looking out for me that day; the contact was behind the faucet, laying quietly on the marble counter.  I thought about all the hassle this recovery saved me, not to mention the cost of buying a replacement.  I thanked the Gas Permeable Contact Gods and vowed to make sure I could see clearly before rinsing off anything ever again.

A week later, I accidentally dropped the same contact into the sink, concave side down.  That little sucker suctioned onto the sink surface.  The curvature of the sink and the bevel of the contact lens must have matched perfectly, because for the life of me, I could not get the lens off the porcelain sink.  Instead of doing what I did the last time this happened--turn on the water and let the contact float up--panic took over and I used my fingers to squeeze it up.  Snap!  That little, tiny piece of plastic chipped and broke.  (I'll just summon your imagination as to what my reaction was at that moment).  My giant gain of not flushing that contact down the drain was matched by my moronic use of force to pick up that godforsaken piece of plastic.  Zero-sum.

Do you catch my drift yet?  Well, I have another pertinent story for you.

I have been blogging for about nine months.  For nine months I wrote about stuff.  I never seemed to have run out of things to say; there was always something I felt so passionate about and ready to write my fingertips off.  Truthfully, I even surprised myself that I could sustain a blog with two posts per week for this long.

In this vast blogosphere, I recently met an intriguing writer named Kim at Amommaly.  I was drawn to her writing because it is completely real, utterly raw, and spills over with emotions of every kind.  She and I chatted on Twitter, and one day she asked me if I ever thought about buying my own domain for my blog.  Well, up until then, I really hadn't.  She told me that she did because she didn't want to spend so much time on writing a blog that really wasn't 'hers'.  So that got me thinking.  After some extensive research, I decided to do it--get my own custom domain.  The whole process took place smoothly and without a hitch (I've read some horror stories about everything that could have gone wrong going wrong).  And in the end, I have my own custom domain--no more blogspot.com.  Yay, me!  Just think of it--a blog to call all of my own!  Thanks, Kim!

But where's this story going?  Well, as soon as I bought my domain, my muse went into hiding.  All the stuff I wanted to write totally and completely vanished.  The moment my blog was my own, I lost my writing mojo.  I walked around and sulked for days wondering what the heck I was going to write next.  I squeezed my brain so hard I swore it was leaking out of my ears.  Zero-sum, my friends, zero-sumThis is not the time to play hide-and-seek with me, muse!   But in all fairness, I am extremely happy that I own this thing that you are looking at.  And my muse isn't really gone--I just have to find her.  And I know she'll be back with a fury. 

In the end, I think my theory is simply one very important reminder: that we should never take anything for granted.  When things are looking up, we should not forget to be thankful and still work hard for what we've got.  When things are not going well, we should keep those chins up and know that things will get get better, because my zero-sum philosophy says so.  Because it all evens out

So, Zero-Sum, I do believe in you.  I like that you make my life decorated with ups and downs, but still steady and ultimately in equilibrium.  C.S. Lewis once said, "The pain I feel now is the happiness I had before."  How painstakingly wise and utterly profound!  I can only hope to be able to feel that way when I am old and gray.  But in the meantime, what goes up must come down.  Balance.  And you've got to be right, because from the looks of this post, I got my mojo back.

Sincerely,
Me

17 comments:

  1. Oh, you'be got your mojo back baby!!!! This is a GREAT post! And, to add to our growing list of similar? Contacts.

    I complety relate to your notion of zero- sum...in fact, have you noticed I haven't been Trifecta-ING ? I find if I get too sucked in to one thing, Instagram, writing challenges, etc, Amommaly suffers a loss.

    Searching for balance.

    Thanks so much for the mention! It's my very first!

    Also, wrote this on my blog...sorry in advance for any typos.
    But hey, zero-sum baby!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You keep teaching me new things... How is it that you wrote this on your blog? I still don't know how trackbacks work. Yes, zero-sum, baby. Blog on!

      Delete
    2. Oops. I hope the whole 'wrote this on my blog' thing didn't keep you awake...as I meant to say PHONE. I WROTE THE COMMENT ON MY PHONE...hahaha

      Delete
    3. Got it! But I HAVE seen on people's blogs that say 'if you want to respond on your blog, use the backtrack link'. So I thought you were doing that! So, no, it didn't keep me up at night. And yes, please write a post of your grids and button creation! I'll be looking forward to them!

      Delete
  2. I like this idea of zero-sum... a balance in our lives.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Tara, for stopping by! I like to think that Balance finds us if we're willing to be sought. On an unrelated note, I'm going to take a pic of my turtle so you can see the distant cousin of one that you saved! =)

      Delete
  3. You got your mojo back indeed. This post is thoughtful and insightful.
    I understand this zero-balance sum of yours. I think I might have benefited from that many times over too.
    Keep on writing. :-)

    P.s. I like the idea of owning my blog. One day...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For Blogger, it's only $10 a year, and the process took about 5 minutes. Of course, it may take a few days for everything to work itself out. The amount of time and effort I put into this thing is worth far more than $10! Now I'm going to learn about making a button for my blog from Kim@amommaly!

      Thanks for your kind comments. It's amazing how life just works itself out. Perhaps I'm just not a person of extremes, and just prefer balance and equilibrium.

      Delete
  4. Congrats on your own blog! I don't think your muse went anywhere - this was a great post! (I haven't thought about buying my blog. I don't know why...been writing on it for over two years now...)

    I can relate to the contacts - I used to wear gas permeables. Allergies finally got bad enough that I just gave up. I've been straight glasses for about fourteen years now!

    I like the zero-sum explanation, and especially the last paragraph. Being thankful when things are good and chins up when they are not are both good things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for your kind comments, Janna! Well, I wish I can just wear glasses (I have allergies as well), but I'm so nearsighted and my glasses are so thick -- they're really a pain.

      As for zero-sum, it's just always been something I believed. And that quote by Lewis is sad but wise and true. I hope that in my old age, I would agree that the pain I feel is precisely because I was able to experience happiness in years past!

      Delete
  5. so this is your own domain? i'm so not computer savvy!! i totally think about this all the time, it's like when you finally have some extra money and your car breaks down and sucks it all up.. something is always there lurking, waiting to sneak up on you just when you take a breath! And then when everything is piling up and you feel like it couldn't get any worse, it gets better. So funny. It's like learning to surf. Sometimes you can manage a wave and sometimes you crash. I opted out of ever surfing again! But life is definitely something you cannot avoid!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Helen, I was just going to say that life is like riding waves, up and down, and you nailed it: it's like learning to surf! We're on the same wavelength here, although I'll probably never learn to surf in my lifetime; I'm too old for that now! Have you ridden the waves, you brave woman?

      Delete
  6. Sandra, it was so scary. On the North Shore of Hawaii during winter. It's ROUGH. One time a wave crashed me so hard I just fell, deeper and deeper, letting the water kind of take me around and hoping not to hit a rock with my head. It seemed like forever but I use to be a fish as a child so I could hold my breath a while and then finally I came up, took a breath and the scariest color you can see when you come up when you are learning to surf is WHITE. The wave is breaking and probably on you so I hid under water as it passed over me and searched for my board. My instructor had a look on his face like, omg she is not dead!
    And then I went home. ha

    ReplyDelete
  7. Replies
    1. My goodness, you *are* a brave soul! I do not think I'd be able to do that, not at this age, and not ever. Call me a wimp, but I had a bad experience snorkeling in stormy waters, got cut up by corals, and was barely keeping my head above water. That was the last time I did water activities, and it would probably take a lot to get me anywhere close to that again. But that is life, yes!

      Delete
  8. Wow...this is a great post. And I know that what you went through back then with losing your mojo and finding it again, is probably the same thing you're going through now. Sometimes writing about nothing turns into something big. Keep at it, mama!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading this, Cassie! I remember this post reflecting me being 'lost', as opposed to my more recent post about me being 'completely empty'. But you're right. Things are coming back and filling up again. I just wanted to share my experience of setting up my custom domain with you, mainly. It's scary as heck! But I'll get back to you on that soon.

      Delete