But I was no longer listening. For the entire length of my hour-long facial I pictured myself with a girl-‘stache, or maybe girl-whiskers, or worse yet, a unibrow. How could I have gone my entire life without waxing my face? Why did nobody tell me about the hirsute nature of my complexion? What else was I missing?
Our world is full of things we’re missing: things we should be doing, body parts we should be modifying, exercises we should be trying, foods we should be eating, drugs we should be taking, and classes our children should be enrolled in. In my neighborhood, the question, “How many languages does your 3-year-old speak?” is an actual, real-life consideration, and monolingual children such as my own are already far behind. My Facebook friends are clearly having more fun, their children engaged in more enriching activities, and the whole family traveling to more exotic destinations than me and mine.
This “missing-out” mentality extends to American culture, as well. The more popular something is, the more suspect I am likely to find it. This is why I have never read 50 Shades of Grey, the Harry Potter books, or The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo; why I will never, ever see the Twilight movies; and why I insist on disliking Taylor Swift even as I sing along to the chorus from “Shake It Off.”
Health care is especially guilty when it comes to the bombardment of “need” messages. Depressed? X drug will do the trick! Back pain? Ask your doctor if Y is right for you! Female and over 40? Thank goodness the new female Viagra is coming out soon! At a very healthy age of 40-something, I have been told variously that I need an ECG; a bone density scan; an exercise routine; more sun; less sun; less Chardonnay; more iron, calcium, and vitamins; a massage; a better sex life; meditation; cognitive-behavioral therapy; and, yes, a face wax.
However, everyone is wrong. What I really need right now is a cure for an old college demon: stage fright. In my quest to find the solution to my fear of a looming, potentially catastrophic music recital (in my mind at least: I am to share the stage with fearless 10-year-olds), I have been reading Eckhart Tolle. Now, Mr Tolle has sold a gazillion copies of his book, The Power of Now, and, what is worse, he is a “Friend of Oprah” and counts Deepak Chopra among his fans. So, of course, even though the first edition of his book came out in 1999, I had never read it. Until now.
An interesting phenomenon, our Mr Tolle. Claiming a sudden and permanent enlightenment, he has made millions of dollars on a “must-read” book that in essence tells us that we don’t need anything at all. Not only do I not need to get my face waxed, I don’t even really need a face, spiritually speaking. Tolle claims that the past and future, good and bad, and all the things we really, really need are just constructs of our overworked minds. He asks his readers, “What is wrong with this moment, right now? What is missing?”
My mind immediately says, “A million dollars! A glass of Chardonnay! A silent child! A hairless face!” All of our minds do. We are always waiting for a different moment, a better moment, than the one we are in. Of course, in order to live our lives and be responsible, healthy people, we sometimes have to at least review the recommendations of the experts. Past and present are necessary considerations in the practicalities of life. However, I am not talking about real, doctor-recommended interventions for real problems or the potential for them.