This (image to the left) is a tile that I have in my home. It sings the praises of the Cancerian. I know that because I used to have the one that, in equal measure, called out the, how do I put this nicely, the ‘non-desirable characteristics’ of the Cancerian. (I say ‘used to have’ because I chucked it after realizing I didn’t want to spend my days – or time in the bathroom as interior design would have it – staring at the things about myself that I’m not particularly proud of.)
Interestingly, however, the ‘bad’ tile didn’t just take these ‘good’ characteristics and flip them around – the artist came up with new downsides like: ‘selfish’ and ‘demanding’. (As if) But they could have just done the flip, really.
For instance, where the good tile says, ‘home loving’, the bad tile could say, ‘hides in her bed when she’s sad’. And ‘devoted’ would be ‘tends to fall in love with a ferocious, all in, passion’. And ‘encouraging’ would be ‘gets really pissed off when people don’t see that if they just listened to her advice and DO IT already, they would find massive success in a matter of minutes – so sometimes she yells at them to encourage them’. ‘Compassionate’ equals ‘can’t see, hear or think about another creature (human or animal) being harmed without unbearably feeling every ounce of their pain’.
And, then, of course, there’s ‘tenacious’. On the good tile this is meant to impart a steadfastness, a strong will, fortitude, power.
The good side of tenacity
Six years ago, I was ten years into a horrible, seemingly irreversible case of IBS or spastic colon or shitty digestive system (depending on which doctor you spoke to), when I happened upon a book called The Body Ecology Diet. I took the test at the beginning of the book and I scored off the charts. And I was thrilled (because I like to win) – but what I scored high on was candida, the bad yeast that causes a lot of dis-ease, including all of my horrid symptoms.
So, being the tenacious crab that I am, I dove in at mach 3. I followed that book to the letter. No wavering, no cheating. I was the Gestapo of the candida cleanse. And it worked. After seven weeks and then some ongoing diet changes, I was (and have been for six plus years now) symptom, pain and hell free (where my stomach is involved, of course).
But the bad side, have mercy, the bad side.
This hardwired unflagging, indefatigable, immovable force demands a sturdy, decisive path – one that can hold up under its drive. Like that book and the diet: there was no wavering, there was no kinda, no sorta. You did it or you didn’t. Yes or No. Go or Stop.
I don’t like yellow lights. They make me nervous, with all their indecision. ‘Maybe’ makes me want to rip out my hair. Shit or get off the pot? Yes! I mean, what am I supposed to do with ‘maybe’? You know how when you say you’re afraid of heights and people ask if you’re afraid of jumping or falling? Well, I’m afraid of the part in between the high spot and the ground.
Why is this bad?
As it turns out, the world is full of this free floating place. Because of a maddening lack of control over the universe. Because some decisions aren’t up to us. And because, sometimes, neither choice (yes/no, up/down, go/stop) will give us what we want.
And, so as uncomfortable as it is, ‘neither’ is the answer sometimes. Grey is the place to be, today. Can one be tenaciously grey? I’m bound and determined to find out.