REBOOT: The Ordinary Life, My Favourite Storybook Character of All Time, And Why I Deleted Facebook

Learn to make the most of life,

Lose no happy day,

Time will never bring thee back

Chances swept away!

~Sarah Doudney

My stepmother once caught my father and I watching the movie Legend together, and I think it made her jealous. By her account, we were sitting side by side on the sofa in the den, identical expressions of “creepy” half-witted amusement plastered on our enraptured faces, saying aloud in union with Blix the brigand goblin, “Black as night, black as pitch, blacker than the foulest witch.” She said it was one of the weirdest things she had ever been witness to, the two of us sitting there with our toothpicks, happily, mindlessly snacking on cans of kippers and smoked oysters, repeating every important phrase from start to finish….

In truth, the Tangerine Dream soundtrack in that movie was and still is like the song of the Pied Piper, and when it plays in my head, I’m right back there under the big oak tree that shelters Nell’s stone cottage walls, where the sun glistens through faerie snow over the summer meadows and clean white sheets billow on the clothesline, whipped by enchanted winds perfumed with honetsuckle and locust flowers. It’s one of my favourite scenes ever, and Nell is my favourite storybook character of all time.

From time to time I have thought about that scene and wondered why it means so much to me. Nell considers herself poor and of no account, but the Princess Lily counters, “You live a very rich life.” Indeed. Nell’s hands are chapped from washing linens, her nose and cheeks are sunburnt rosy, but one look around her tiny cottage filled with fresh baking and herbs strewn over the table and looms and handcraft projects littering the room in various stages of completion, the life revealed is hearth-centered, busy, comfortable, unpretentious, practical and fascinatingly, paradoxically simple and impossibly complex in tandem. When Lily runs off to the explore the woods, Nell calls after her with the sage wisdom of plainfolk to avoid duplicitous faeries and their toadstool rings before returning to her sunny, quiet productive life under the sprawling protection of the mighty oak canopy….Lily left to go hunt unicorns, but I always wanted to stay with Nell to bake shortbread, make stew, fold freshly laudered sheets into the corners of the fluffy wool-stuffed feather bed, and make something beautiful from all the bits and bobs that fill the handwoven baskets she keeps tucked away in her rafters.

I think that the magic in Nell’s cottage is of the same substance I found at six-years-old in Beatrix Potter’s Tales of the Burrow and later within the rambling domain of impossible towering book piles and wondrous knitting that shelters Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which and Mrs. Whatsit in A Wrinkle in Time. It’s reflected in Molly Weasley’s own Burrow where dishes politely wash themselves before going to their own cupboards, and a clock over the mantle tells the proximity of each family member to the safety of home.

By contrast, our society has been overtaken by a perverse popularity contest that seems to ignore the real weight of time altogether. Instead of finding contentment and happiness in a cozy room filled with beloved books and rugs woven from baby clothes and old shirts, we trade our peace for the sterility and dopamine-chasing stress of Facebook and Twitter and whatever other electronic drug du jure excites our perverse longing. Instead of growing gardens, hunting rabbits, lying in the sun and playing in the woods, we imagine our connections to nature by posting someone else’s photos of imaginary places in our feeds to be forgotten tomorrow. We don’t eat real food; we buy garbage that tastes good from a giant block box. We don’t create our homes with the work of our own hands, we buy them via mail order from an online picture catalogue that tells us what “home” is supposed to look like.

I can’t tolerate it anymore. Social media has created an entire society incapable of living an authentic life for the simple joy of it, or of comprehending and exhibiting common decency and simple manners. Bratty, sociopathic teenagers are defended by elitist morons in the name of religious solidarity, and abuse of elders is somehow alright when they aren’t expected to be where others smugly plant themselves in a national display of “prolife” lunacy with no regard for others. I’m done paying any attention to all of this nonsense. I have much better things to do with my time and energy than stare at an electronic screen whilst time streams by, never to be recaptured or remembered.

Seriously, can you actually remember the last time you paid concerted attention to creating something tangible and lasting without looking at your “timeline”? Without posting the “results” to be praised like a second-grader at show-and-tell? When was the last time you had a legitimate, deep, independent thought that wasn’t a product of your accepted herd’s mindless paradigm? The world has been robbed of her GOD-given sacramental imagination and the sanctity of the ordinary life by social media addiction, and you’re all idiots not to recognise that you’ve been played. Bullshit! I’m not going to forfeit like that.

If you need me, I’ll be with Nell at the old cottage surrounded by meadow, planting salad flowers and sewing embroidered pinafores by hand. I’m going to paint a window or two this week whilst the days grow longer, and start sorting my seeds to prep for growing Spring seedlings in a couple of weeks for the new garden. Whilst Death chases the old man ’round and ’round Nell’s mantle clock and you all are calling evil good, I’m jumping back over the hedge to find my peace where sanity lives amongst the common things that make days worthy of eternity. I’ll take faerie rings and toadstools in a living garden over the injustice of a false existence on the internet anytime: Life (that you all claim to have such superior reverence for) is far too short to be wasted in the matrix, and far more complex than a stupid, corporatized annual mob that NO ONE in government takes seriously. I’ll believe your horseshit one-day-a-year virtue signalling when you all actually invite real, live women in crisis into to your homes, put your money where your profile badges claim to be, and make a commitment to substantively support their maternity with your own resources and space for the long haul.

You know where to find me when you decide to get real. Healthy, happy, living a very rich life, indeed; just your ordinary decent fat chick under the beautiful sun, hoe in one hand, book in the other, slaying real dragons, not the imaginary glowing ones Facebook cooks up for me. 🐉

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Peter Gallaher
    Jan 21, 2019 @ 22:14:28

    Lovely recollection; like a fairy tale itself. I loved in a fairytale place long, long ago; even if it was New York City

    Liked by 1 person


    • MikiDaShrew
      Jan 25, 2019 @ 07:14:57

      I didn’t realise that I posted the essay above before I was finished with it. I loved New York, too, for a time. Especially the Lower East Side before it was teagically gentrified. Nothing gold can stay….



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