All art is autobiographical. The pearl is the oyster's autobiography (Federico Fellini). Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others.(Buddha) You are what you settle for. You are ONLY as much as you settle for.(Janis Joplin 1943-1970) Use the talents you possess, for the woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except the best.(Henry van Dyke, poet 1852-1933) "I must be willing to give up what I am in order to become what I will be." (Albert Einstein)
Sunday, 6 October 2013
Reposte to the Joplin quote "You are what you settle for..."
I placed a quote by Janice Joplin, made during her last interview, at the top of this page. It set me thinking and I cannot ignore the implications of what she said. I also need to work out what I've portrayed below!
I read the quote at the end of a difficult few days that saw the end of a long acquaintanceship. I don't use the word friendship, because I have to admit that on reflection, there was not really a lot of friendship about it. In fact, I was, in all the decades I've been living in Germany, never really able to enter into what I would call friendship with German women, and if I were to talk about friendship as opposed to other kinds of relationship, I could still only think of men who have fulfilled this role for me. But I never had a 'best friend', anyway, and I'm probably to blame for that, if blame has to be shared out. But that's a different story.
This former acquaintance is extremely obese and flabby. She's been obese at least ever since she joined one of my choruses 17 years ago, and increased her girth over the years, despite or possibly due to diet attacks. She no longer sings in my chorus because - well, she has no valid reason. The one she's using at present is that she doesn't drive after dark. We did some painting sessions together, until I realised that she only painted on those occasions, had learnt nothing new, discovered nothing, and was not really interested. That left us with nothing in common, if the truth be known. The only contact would be at the gym, but she took 8 weeks off for various vacations, cancelled dates because of unwellness (!) and so that contact broke down, too. For my sins, I decided that when she embarked on this latest diet splurge, I would support it. Her normal diet is the clue to her adipostas: no vegetables at all and fruit either in cake, sweet yoghurt mixes or jam, but lots of fast or ready-cooked food, greasy chips and lots of takeaways and meals at restaurants.
The unfriended person is a lost diet cause, too. She is a hapless example of someone who cannot combine diet with the hardship of going hungry now and again. She does not believe in calories, and that was the first of many arguments we had on the subject of diet. It was followed and accompanied by the revelation that she now swore by Weight Watchers' points (of which she grants herself 50, which means she can more or less go on eating more than what is normal for normal weight people - recommended 2000 calories = 40 WW points) - and controls herself only on the internet with no personal guidance. Her aim is to lose weight slowly so that she will not put it back on. Her words. If she's eating less than she used to (which I doubt) and a better quality diet (which is highly unlikely) I suppose it could work...and if she could get over her phobia about vegetables (yes, there is such a thing).
I have to add that this person moves of necessity in slow motion with dragging feet and rolling gait and has various recurring health problems caused by the decades of unhealthy eating and lack of fitness (despite 4 years going to a gym - but apparently getting that all wrong too, because otherwise it would lead to over-exertion - after a gym visit she usually spent the rest of the day recovering). She has the good fortune to be able to live on the proceeds of a block of flats she inherited and is married to someone who does more or less everything for her (I often wonder why some people inspire such devotion - I'd be suspicious!). She does not have a job, so there's plenty of time to be a lady of leisure. An ideal life, I suppose, if you want it that way. She has little vanity and no self-criticism. So what made her want to lose weight yet again? Some hidden craving for physical beauty? That's the reason I tried to encourage her. As Mrs Simpson said "You can't be too rich or too thin."
But the thorny process of helping someone who claims not to need help and consequently rejects it, ended in her sending me a vitriolic mail in which she accused me of all sorts of rubbish, as if that was necessary for her to rebuild her ego. The worm had turned.
I regret now that I said anything at all, but I regret more the years I spent encouraging her to make something of herself that have fed her ego and made her see me as inferior and at best only a person of words, not deeds, which is simply not true. She herself has never had the desire to do something by doing the hard graft needed to achieve concrete results - it explains her whole life history. But we are not talking about achievements (or her non-achievements). None so blind as those who will not see.
So how many of us comply with Joplin's sad words "You are what you settle for. You are ONLY as much as you settle for.””?
Does a time come when you stop trying to do things and resign yourself to the status quo? This was one of the fatal arguments with the woman described above.
But surely you are very happy with the way you are if you are prepared to settle for it?
Obviously we are not talking about an organic or physical disability that cannot be rectified. But what about the things we can change for the better? And what about getting help of some kind to achieve those improvements?
The acquaintanceship with the above described person (now aged about 50) ended with my realisation that she is, in fact, only putting an act on when she claims to want to weigh less or learn something new. She is happy with her life, and I was wrong to interfer with her philosophy.
But that does not mean I want to have anything more to do with her......In fact, it's literally one burden less!
P.S. Should I have pointed out that this person weighs at least 150 Kilos (over 23 stones/ 330 pounds)?