Two years ago I was feeling a little drastic--not unlike today or many other ordinary days. I think life is made to force you to the edge and at least peer over. Well, here is where I was. . .
I have some ideas about what this means and where it all began. Was it a gap in my understanding of God for the first time in my life. Where I came to doubt my own relevance, my own ability to decipher the will of God for myself my basic self. When suddenly I was cast alone upon the blind waves of the universe and found myself trying to fight my way back upon solid ground. I took for granted the solid ground, took for granted that I thought it was my lot never to stand on the cliffs of the gates of hell and look in and wondering if it just wouldn’t be better to fall in. My turn to have doubt. Then slip into the fathomless depth of not exactly self pity, but it’s kin self-deception. That somehow consequences do not stalk actions. That inactivity, isolation and denial don't breed death. A death ugly with fat cells and a numb brain drowned by an abundance of unearned riches.
Now if that first paragraph of self-indulgent rot didn’t make you shut off your Internet, nothing will.
I needed a victory. Not something grand, just something I could achieve. Now let me describe how I hoped the small act of stopping myself from biting my fingernails for one year would bring me back from the afore mentioned brink. Brink of what I'm not sure.
The beginning of a year without. . .
It all started on my fortieth birthday. A forty year old who still bit her fingernails. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t. If it gives you any idea about my need for self comfort I sucked my thumb until I was 8. (Only in private--I at least understood some social taboos) I only desisted at that time, because my bishop, who was also my dentist, told me that I would not be baptized unless I stopped biting my fingernails and to add extra pressure he also said that he would put tubes on my arms over my elbows so that I would not be able to bend them and put the offending thumbs into my mouth. Tragic. Of course I stopped, I have a secret though, I think it must have been that day that I began biting my nails.
I now make my disclaimer. Biting nails is not a bad thing. It hurts no one, and may greatly alleviate stress etc. It is good for cellists, violinists and many other musicians who must keep their fingertips free of the stain of excess--what is that stuff that’s in jello--collagen? They are saved from that clicky sound nails make on the instrument and nothing distracts from the purity of notes unhindered by vanity.
With that stated, know that I do not judge you biters and find you superior in you ability to avoid social pressure. Pressure that at forty I felt impossible to ignore. I live in a neighborhood that I have come to call the land of the unearthly beautiful, and I have come to believe that it is time to concede one point. I say it to myself quietly, so as not to disturb my sense of superiority at being above all this—I want to have pretty hands. I want to put my arm around my husband, child, or just rest it on the bench at church and NOT curl up the tips to hide the nail. I don’t have to have a manicure, polish or acrylic tips, I just want them socially acceptable. So, at forty I pulled out an old bottle of the putrescent stuff that is painted on nails daily to make them so disagreeable to taste buds that I will actually notice that fingers are in my mouth. It was all the reminder I needed.
I know it sounds weird but that was what bothered me the most on my fortieth birthday, even though I also happened to be many pounds overweight, an unfinished book in my desk, a house that was slowly being inundated by cobwebs, dust and dirty clothes. There you have it. Here began my year without.
To be continued. . .