Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Am I Having Fun Here? ....and other random thoughts
This is the second in a series of collections of writing practice I completed earlier in the year. The challenge was to write 300 words a day every day for 365 days. I failed the challenge, but I enjoyed the pursuit. Here, then, are some unedited thoughts straight from that journal.
I thought once about ending my life. Once. You should know that I have never shared this. With anyone. It was a lonely time for me, a dark time. Life was hard. I was not certain that the effort was worth the exhaustion, worth the frustration, worth the tears. I was twenty-two.
I imagined how I might do it. I plotted the how, the why, the when. I got specific in my head. I pictured what the life I left behind would look like. Then from someplace I am uncertain there came a point when I realized that I was not living for myself, I was living for others, for the others I would impact along my journey. I was not going to school, earning that degree, breaking a cycle, struggling to keep my head above the proverbial water for myself, but for my future children, future students, friends, for the future me who would someday walk into my life. I was not living to accomplish, to achieve, but to impact, empower, to move others forward in THEIR lives. The struggle, the journey, was NOT for ME. How, then, could I consider ending a life that was not my own. How could I take MY life when it meant taking OTHERS?
I met a guy.
He came to me dressed as a regular person. He came to me in guise of a friend. We introduced ourselves as friends do, got to know each other, shared stories, offered support, encouragement, advice. We bickered, shared a few words, then got right back to the business of being friends. It was an easy friendship. There was no forcing or pretending. It just happened. As we spoke, the mask fell away, his and mine. We became real, more real to each other than simply friend. I began to see that which others could not. I began to read and understand the words and meaning behind the mask, behind the face he shared with others. I began to prefer it. I began, if I am to be honest, to fall in love.
This is the point at which I lied to myself.
I have led others to believe that I am stronger than I am. If one is to move, motivate, encourage, inspire, is it also possible to be vulnerable, weak, real? Does the inspirer not also need inspiring? Does SHE not need uplifting, encouraging? It is easy to look to a light and assume that the light is always there, that it always burns, but what is the source of that light?
I am not certain one ever stops to think, “Am I having fun here?” We tend to go about our days in a kind of mind-numbing trance in which we carry about our routines without benefit of deep philosophical reasoning as to whether we are, indeed, living the life we are here to live, throwing the best of what we have to offer out to the world, or smiling more than we are not. I am also not certain many of us believe these factors to be critical to existence, nor do we consider in great detail the finite reality of that existence. We live for graduation, for the day we are married, the day we get that big promotion, for retirement. If I am to be real here, we are not guaranteed this afternoon, or dinner with our families, or that we will wake in the morning. Why, then, not ask ourselves if we are having fun NOW?
It is an unspoken rule among women that we take care of business. I have never understood the popular portrayal of women as being the weaker sex. The dramatic, whining, floundering female image often found in the media has just never impressed me as the way we women play out our lives. No. Instead, we meet challenges from which any rational human being would run, challenges that frequently compromise our own health and well-being. We give. And we do not complain. We do. And we do not expect. We manage, settle, diffuse, handle, arrange. And when the proverbial shit hits the fan, it is we who are standing present with rag and disinfectant.
At what point does one go from dreaming of Happily Ever After to settling for It’ll Do? When a woman’s first experience with love is all Prince Charming and glass slippers, how does the day appear when she looks at a lover not as one who completes her but rather as a warm body on a cold night, as a good father to her children, as a partner in toilet unclogging and home repair? In the normal progression of a relationship, at what point does one give up on the flowers, the poetry, the candlelit dinners in favor of steady, reliable, helps with the dishes? After years of listening to each other pass gas of one sort or another, slurp soup, and nag about chores, do the prince and princess turn into toads? Does the fairytale end? Did it ever really exist?
I have known people who have held grudges for years. I have known others to hold pain for a lifetime. I am not much a fan of either. Life is short, as the saying goes. I think both are a fat waste of good breathing space. Both do horrible things to the body. Both take away opportunities for joy. Both taint our perspectives toward other parts of our lives until we no longer can see clearly, no longer can let go and truly live.
This, then, is a letter of forgiveness. It is a long time in the coming.
If your life were a book, how would it read? Who are the villains? Who are the heroes? Who are those interesting, quirky characters that every good book has? What about plot? What are the obstacles you have had to overcome? The small joys you have encountered along the way? How about the title? How would that read? How would the chapters be arranged? If the book were made into a movie, at what point could we get up and go for popcorn without missing any exciting parts?
What are the scenes you remember? Which pop to the front when you look back at your life? Which do you replay over and over? Is that because they were absolutely great? Or because they totally sucked? Of all the scenes, which one is your favorite? Which characters do you like? Which do you not? If you could choose an alternate ending, would you? Why?