Friday, January 28, 2011

Day 39

I look in the mirror and I see that I'm getting older. Not for the first time, it occurs to me that I may not reach the goals I've set for myself. I may not have the career I'd planned on. I may not make the art I want to. I may not have the love or life or the smell of the sea. For the longest time, I was sure they would come. For a short while, the plan seemed to be working, the goals attainable, the love, the life and the smell of the sea very near.
I wonder how much a part The Great Recession will play in this story. The Great Depression destroyed the parents of my parents. I grew up with those stories, along with salvaged bits of both implosions, relics of fine homes lost, fortunes never recovered, dreams that slipped downstream in the floods that followed.
I don't think this time even touches that one. I'm not minimizing the lives profoundly affected by the last few years. There are many. But I recognize that it had a part in the series of events that brought me from there, where I thought I was moving along according to plan, to here, which is entirely different from what I had in mind.
Thing is, I thought I was tooling along, fully invested in the belief that if I continued to work hard and be kind, success would come. Pieces would fall into the slots I'd prepared for them with audible clicks.
Now I wonder if I can learn to live in the present without that faith? Faith is exactly what it was. I believed. I did not know.
We can never know, because we can never own anything. Everything we have exacts a cost. We pay every day. Sometimes it's a little and sometimes it's everything.

Many human beings appreciate each day as it comes, outside of calming assurances that they will eventually arrive at their destinations. Children live freely, presently, at least until they're taught otherwise. They live in the pure light of wonder before context and linear thinking take over. Their world is not ours.
I may not get what I want. Huh. Didn't expect that. What I want is a something that I created. What I want is a construct, made of context and linear thinking, fed by second-hand values and glued together with promises of shiny bits. I can let it go. Is giving it up different from giving up? Knowing the difference is right on the tip of my tongue.
These are the things I've been thinking today. I'm better, but still coughing in spells that come suddenly and violently and leave me dizzy. Relief comes from sitting in a steamy bathroom. I'm awfully tired, inside and out. I'm taking a break from desires and plans. I'm taking a break from decisions. I'm taking a break from tomorrow.
I sound like a fool, I know, but I'm way too raw to pretend I'm anything else.
I am a shorn sheep, but dammit, I showed up. Three poppets watch from under the monitor. They tell me that showing up counts. That's one I still believe.


Diandra said...

Not getting what you want can be painful... it may also lead to getting something else, which you never realized you might want...

DavidK said...

All too often "what I want" morphs into "what I must get" in our minds. Hopes and aspirations shouldn't be converted into mandatory elements of our lives, else they become anchors holding us down rather than propellers moving us forward (if I may torture the 'ship' metaphor a bit). Hope has to be wispy, fluid, a will-o-wisp to pursue, rather than a concrete block to stumble over and lock you in place.

Here's something Orion will enjoy:

MAQART said...

I am not a religious person but I have always been drawn to the Buddhist concept that desire causes pain and the absence of desire brings peace and thus a degree at least of happiness. I try very hard to keep "what I want" s to a minimum; though I 'fail' daily, yearly and with my life as a whole, I do find myself more able to live in the moment, to see beauty in my work, my surroundings and ultimately myself. Practically, it means rising every day with acceptance of the work, the trials, the conflicts and joys, and the epic crash-and-burns that lie ahead, and the recognition that the concept of failure is also based in the desire for perfection. If one can banish desire, one can banish failure too. Baba Ram Dass said it back in the 60s- be here now.

Anonymous said...

You bet showing up counts - showing up is living, showing up is what I aim to achieve!
For the last few years friends have been reminding me that its not the destination that is important, its the journey. Every day I manage to 'show up' is a day when I am experiencing my journey not being distracted by what I have convinced myself is my destination, its exciting, incredibly scary, exhilarating and exhausting and I'm slowly getting to the point where I wouldn't have it any other way. Thinking positive thoughts for you. Shonna

Drinne said...

Showing up is what makes sure you have time to have another dream.

I've felt like time was running out since I was 16 and watching all those inspiring kids doing fantastic things on TV when I could barely manage to ride a bike or stay in school. All of the dancers started when they were 4 or 5, all of the working actors seemed to go to drama camp or have leads in plays when they were in HS ( and tiny noses and straight teeth).

I was 16 and had accomplished very litttle and life was over before I was out the gate.

When I was 25 in a life I couldn't have predicted, married, creating an internationally distributed (but tiny) magazine, and a mother, I cried hysterically in private because I was 25 and what had I done with my life? It just wasn't enough - other people had done so much more by my age - what was wrong with me.

But then my personal Blast Radius happened and for 10 or more years it was about survival and defiant joy in the face of surviving and age/getting older didn't matter anymore

Until now, when things are "safe" - at each stage of that feeling of irredeemable "older" and no turning back it was a fear of not having any kind of future or legacy,or recognizing that each choice I made took me farther and farther away from what I wanted to be and do. It was OK but caused those odd freakouts but now things are quiet and it's not so much "I'm not what I wanted to be" It's worrying about how to find the energy again to try to be anything and when I look in the mirror seeing someone who might be too old to start over.

Which is scary. The 16 year old is still in there, making her case, and the 25 year old is still talking me down from overreacting and the 28-42 year old is saying "Fuck it, you survived and you'll survive again"

But current me is just tired of having to. I'm OK at this point with changing my dreams, but I'm experienced enough to know now that "dream deferred" doesn't work. There's got to be a way to be everything you are as you move forward, like when you organize your closet, you keep the important things, even if they don't fit as markers, or reminders or elements of your time and style. But you get rid of anything that looks bad on you, isn't necessary or is damaged. Then you use whats in there, add or replace what you need and it still defines you. It's the you for everyone to see.

I know its like that, but sometimes I have trouble with it. I don't have an answer, just this insight into the issue I'm trying to use to get past it. The 28-42 year old me is pretty wise and I'm fairly sure her POV will win in the end.

I don't know if sharing this helps, but the reality of older is hard to talk about. And I think it's incredible that you find a way to keep making art and I'm frankly envious that even if your life moves you in all sorts of ways from "the plan" your art will always be able to be there for you, even if it doesn't get you to where you wanted to be, it's still yours - you still own it no matter what. No one can stop you from making it even if you were working in a convenience store to survive.

Anonymous said...

You don't sound at all like a fool. "What I want" can get in the way of everything, if you let it. It can overshadow the moment, until you find yourself so busy getting what you wanted that you realize you missed everything else that was happening along the way, i.e. your life.

And then you wake up in the middle of the night and realize that you don't want it any more.

No, you don't sound foolish at all. Sometimes taking a moment to show up, look around, realize what you have is the most precious gift you can give yourself - realizing what you have and why you are thankful to have it rather than worrying about what you haven't got.