Greed

I had a dream a few nights ago, spreadeagled on my side of the bed. Greed was stretched out with me, as always, nestled comfortably along my left-hand side. In our sleeping watery world we were both reaching for something, something that was deliciously beyond our grasp. It is a popular dream for both of us.

We sleep easily together, Greed and I, as there is a simple honesty in admitting to his presence. Once I accepted that he was there, it was easier to get along with him and easier to ignore him when I needed to.

I breathed deeply the scent of cotton and wishing. Greed did not stir, but he is forever watchful behind purple-lidded eyes.

Greed is a hobgoblin who comes attached to the grander notions of ambition and success. He is the dark secret, hidden in velvet folds. A true parasite, he seeks nourishment from broader stretching growth. He is an ivy that flourishes in the armpits of trees.

In being born and accepting the blessings for success and achievement that were placed into my lap, I also accepted Greed, the deformed half cousin. He was hidden in the crib with a hand over his mouth, covering a slight nervous cough. He was placed there with the flick of an eye turning the other way.

My life is constructed according to a plan, and unacknowledged Greed has his role, his walk-on part. It was planned for me when the responsibility was not mine. Those who made the plans did not know me and never would, but still they planned for me. The plans were designed to ensure success; that homes would be comfortable, husbands well kept and professions worthy. There were plans for status, achievement, acquisition, health, survival. There were plans for a million things, worthy and not.

These plans are the desires of the ghosts of relatives gone long before. They whisper their longing from a cold, old country, where the thrust of poverty and exile turned their plans into a sweet cordial. Even now they are sending messages down a genetic wire, tightly pulled and dripping with what they hope and dream for me. A thousand expectations are captured in my blood, veins and sinew.

I am old enough to walk the world. I continue the plans, as was expected of me. And all of these plans need Greed to survive. He knows this, knows this very well.

But I ignored him, like so many do, and pretended he did not exist.

I did not own him. I would swear I did not. I did not need Greed to survive, to make my way. He wasn’t hanging on to the underside of my arm, scuttling into my cool bed like he did into others.

“Oh, he’s not mine.”

A dismissive wave of the hand.

“Greed is not something I struggle with.”

I am above all that. Greed is for other people. But then there were the plans, laid out for me to follow like the yellow brick road.

So my Greed, my hobgoblin, is the creature who whispers to me of failure. Greed hangs on the underbelly of my intentions and wishes, recognising them as his lifeblood. He tells me that these plans, these hopes, will all be dashed if I do not move now, move quickly. He turns my head towards what should be grabbed at, the people who must be stepped over and what is to be taken if I am to have that success. He places his hands over my eyes, whispering urgently, constantly, of the importance of achievement and what must not be lost.

“There is no time, no time!” he urges.

Greed keeps moving me forward. He finds the shortest route to my pre-determined destination. I step over. I race. I grab. I reach for the top, straining upward. I drive success like a Hummer, belching fumes and self-obsession, because there is no time.

I awoke in my bed with Greed lying comfortably along my left-hand side. He stirred, breathing to match mine. In that half sleep of morning I had dreamt of excisions and separations, scalpels cutting ties and rope being frayed. I had felt the need for shaking loose and letting fall.

I stared at the ceiling.

Greed sighed.

In the ceiling above my head I saw the swirling, brightly coloured circles of expectation and anticipation, spinning out wildly. Ricocheting from their centre were pieces of myself. In the turning I saw the stories of history reaching into my tomorrow, shaping it. In the middle was me, twirling like a dervish, exultant with the speed and passion and yet pieces of me flung away with every spin, every twist, every turn. It was a mad hurdy-gurdy carnivale complete with panic-stricken music and the stomping sound of feet.

Greed muttered in his sleep, “no time, no time”.

The twisting and yelling, spinning and panting sparkled across my ceiling, with fragments of me disappearing into cornices. I sucked in my breath. I closed my eyes. I willed myself peace.

Deep shuddering breaths of peace. I willed myself the ability to feel the boundaries of my own skin again. I longed to sense the quiet and stillness that comes when you stop to listen. I needed to reach back beyond the time of history and commitment, expectation and desire.

To let go of one’s past is quite a difficult thing to do. But to let go of one’s future? That is quite another. What do you put there in its place? My weakness is that I need a plan, but I don’t want that one.

Greed smiled in his sleep and rolled over. He wasn’t about to help me work it out.

Greed

anya

Joined August 2008

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Artist's Description

Greed as a sin, claimed for the Seven Sins Competition for NYE. May the greediest win.

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