Best of September 2011

People keep telling me how good I am for coming up with this idea of a backyard makeover. They don’t care about the front of the house, especially because that part is only beginning. I have to recognize that it was clever to take charge of 1/3 of the total area we have. That one third was a complete waste of space. Where it used to be: 1 unused storeroom, 1 unused small storeroom, 1 unused coal storeroom, 1 domestic workers’ room (They used to sleep here when colonial rules forbade them to walk the streets freely, something I – thankfully – didn’t witness!) and 1 service bathroom. How I have solved this colonial mess? I actually store somewhere else, reducing the general (unhealthy) tendency to store unwanted stuff by 80%. Domestic workers have a large, improved bathroom with reasonable storage conditions. The remaining is space conquest: 1 guest suite, 1 spa area and 1 living-veranda.

I should feel great when people tell me how ingenious I am for this project, but I don’t. I am deeply involved. I get the usual dose of stress and the same amount of satisfaction. I particularly enjoy things that happen by chance and work, like discovering that the outside shower allows us to sit on a stone bench while showering. That bench wasn’t supposed to exist. We had to accept that “intruder” to protect the foundations of an existing wall.

Since I read a newspaper article, I don’t feel “normal” because I don’t get excited with approval. Like any other person, I have a source of inner satisfaction. The problem is that that source doesn’t work properly. I am rarely satisfied with my own achievements and I suppose that explains why I am sort of indifferent to praise. Discovering this mechanism is my best of September. (It had to be the broken source or the shower bench…)

The article itself says things like: 1) Too much self-regard can be dangerous. 2) Most people prefer “an ego-massage compliment to sex (!?!?!?!?!?), pizza or beer”. 3) America is leading the “narcissism epidemic” with a new “look-at-me” generation. 4) “The notion of self-esteem was first described as a balance between doing good and feeling good.” These days, “only feeling good matters” and “you are a star just because someone tells you it’s so”. 5) We “sugar-coat everything so as not to bruise the allegedly fragile egos of those around us”. 6) Narcissism provokes “materialism, aggression, lack of care for others and shallow values”. Still, the tendency is “to avoid criticism at all costs”.

I found the subject so interesting that I wrote:

Contemporaneous Egos & Broken Hearts
There was a time people were good
Because they were good at things

A simple life with simple rules

Those rules no longer apply

It’s quite different today
You are only good, they say
By the number of people repeating
How amazingly good you are

A new ego fertilizer
Like. Like. Like. Like.

I would let massage my own ego
If I had an ego left to massage

Since he and I became two strangers
I only have a broken heart to mend…

I read signs. Sometimes they happen with a curious insistence. I have the tendency to lose rings when there’s a lesson to be learned. This week I lost a ring I usually wear at the little finger of my right hand. It had three small nice stones. At first I thought: ‘If it had six stones I would understand…’ Then I discovered the message was there to be seen: ‘Three stones lost mean three years lost with a lost dream: April 2007 to April 2010.’ And that is pretty much close to reality.