Do What You Can Do

I got up at 5am took a long shower. While washing my hair I decided spur of the moment to use that special conditioner made from sheep placentas or something. God knows who sold it to me. The same people who pitched me those padded underpants probably.

The rain drummed on the sidewalk outside and it seemed pretty clear that even a scant week away from Daylight Savings, actual daylight was by no means guaranteed.

Plus there had been sadness of late, a child of my heart in the hospital 1,000 miles away, three friends battling cancer who were as healthy as ten-year-olds just six months ago.

In times of trouble, focus outward they say – but what if ‘out there’ is where the trouble is? Then I guess you have to to look back inward, the way babies do with their special blankies, curling them around the same fingers which are also using to suck on and pat their cheeks with.

It’s an art, this self-comforting thing.

Comfort comes to me when I slow down – long enough to run a special conditioner through my hair, say, and leave it in for ten minutes.

I blew my hair dry and sure enough the sheep placental worked. I looked just like the Ghost of Decades Past, with hair just like Jackie Kennedy, which is to say smooth with just the smallest sign of telltale frizz at the root.

I always noticed this about her hair: the unconquerable hint of frizz close to the scalp.

Jackie Kennedy hair

If you have curly hair like I do, wavy hair like she did, you know the hair the world sees isn’t ‘your’ hair ever – except in a heavy rain – but rather this carefully curated version of your hair, to use a word that’s all the rage now..

“Cultivate your garden,” advised the great Voltaire at the end of his famous novel Candide by which I think he meant keep it simple. Do what you can do and let the big scary world spin as it wants to spin for a while without trying to change it.

Days like yesterday, with clouds like dirty drop cloths blocking the sun, it did me good to remember that quote.

The memory of those padded underpants helped too. And also comparing myself to Jackie in any way at all, however much of a s-t-r-e-t-c-h the comparison may be.

IMG_1229

Author: Terry Marotta

I am syndicated columnist, blogger and author who loves any chance to give talks about the ease of first-person writing.

3 thoughts on “Do What You Can Do”

  1. I like it’

    Re Voltaire: Many years ago, in the olden days, I had a dear, rather precocious 9-year-old cousin. He turned out to be a lifetime student, who was learning Arabic in Tangiers when he died mysteriously. But, back to the 9-year-old. It was a family gathering, and I was 12 at the time. He plopped down on the sofa beside me and asked: “What do you think of Voiltaire?” I was at a loss for words! I honestly had no thoughts on the subject. Who would, at the age of l2, to say nothing of someone, age 9, who poses such a question? I read Candide eventually, and I think now that that advice is valid at various times in one’s life. But not all the time, as you imply.

  2. Hurrah! I always like seeing that smiling face of YOURS which I saw in my email but when I clicked to go to wordpress all I see is Jackie O. Where’d you go? I am amazed that you can always manage a beautiful smile even with bad stuff happening.

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