Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Year of Deliberate Thinking

As I am wont to do, I will fuck up the cliche and just say that sometimes you have to take a few steps backward to move a couple of inches forward. Today was a better day. I am more hopeful that I will navigate through this ordeal on my own terms and by my own strength and resolve.

On an aside, one of the more infuriating things B used to do was to minimize whatever problem I had with a token "if this is all you have to worry about, you lead a charmed life." As maddening as that was at the time, there is truth at the heart of it. If my biggest problem right now is that I am licking the wounds from a recently concluded meaningful relationship, then I am, in fact, a very fortunate woman. People have fallen, then lost, loves throughout history and I am not a unique snowflake in that. Marriages and relationships end every day. That doesn't mean that the experience won't shred your innards and fundamentally alter the way you think and feel. It often does. Hell, it should, lest you learn nothing from the experience.

I'm starting to believe that is the whole point of loving someone. Learning more about what makes you tick (both good and bad) and what makes another person tick as well. When it ends, the trick, at least as far as I can tell, is to balance the grief at having "lost" a great love -- and all of what comes with that -- with the ambition to become wiser for the experience by taking the lessons forward. It is when you upset that balance -- either by wallowing in the grief or by pushing it out of your mind with willful blindness -- I think that is where you risk a sorrowful existence.

Of course, without a sorrowful existence, we would not have great art, literature and terrible country music songs. I am having the kind of day where I believe a little bit of a tortured sorrowful existence may be good for the creative soul. Lil' bit. In all things, balance.

I didn't really rebuild after B and I separated, or do much in the way of moving forward. Kind of the opposite. I spent a good two and a half years in a stupor, both literally and figuratively. What a waste of time, in retrospect. How I would love to be three years younger and with this kind of self-awareness, but alas, time (and timing), she is a cruel mistress. At the time, I just couldn't imagine my life differently, even though I knew in my bones that it was no longer where I wanted to be. I was scared and cowardly -- afraid to imagine a life that was fundamentally different from what I knew. Afraid, I think, to live, or even imagine, a life that was defined by what I wanted, not by what I thought expected of me. If I wasn't bound by those definitions, well then fuck. I would be ultimately responsible for my happiness, satisfaction, contentedness and fulfillment in my life. I would have no one or anything else to blame. Just my choices. I would have to be the ultimate architect of the good and the bad in my life. Daunting.

Tonight, I am no longer daunted by that. Quite the opposite. I use the Thoreau phrase "living deliberately" all the time. As a teenager, that phrase really resonated with me, although I wasn't certain I understood the true meaning. Now, decades later, I am still not entirely sure I know what it means, as it is an elusive concept. Maybe it is something like the Supremes say about obscenity -- you know it when you see it (or experience it).

All I know right now is that is where I am trying to go. To live deliberately. I think -- no, I have to believe -- that if you live your life deliberately, with pure satisfaction and self-fulfillment in the choices you make for yourself -- then you will live the kind of life that you always wanted for yourself. If you fuck up along the way and fall in love at the wrong time, or let a love that you once had fade away, or corrupt a relationship that mattered to you, well, at least you did it deliberately. Mistakes and missteps are what make us all interesting. When have you ever read a great book about someone who didn't fuck up? The interesting stories are when the person made conscious mistakes, but borne out of a good soul.

Are there really any mistakes or sins beyond forgiveness? You know what? I haven't encountered one. I just need to remember that. Hell, everyone needs to remember that.

Fuck, if this is the worst thing humanity has to worry about, we live a charmed life.


Talix said...

It depends how you define forgiveness, I guess. Last night I dreamed - had a nightmare - about my mother's second husband, my stepfather. I don't know that he truly molested me (in reality, not the dream), but the fact that I have to ask the question indicates that something inappropriate was going on.

Have I forgiven him? I have, in that I've let him off the hook for trying to make it up to me. There are countless wrongs that can't be righted. You can, however, forgive the debt, accepting that you can never be paid back in full. (It helps to remember that "Hurt people hurt people.")

Some people use "I forgive you" to mean "It's okay" or "It's like it never happened." Some things aren't okay, bells can't be unrung, and if that's what forgiveness is, I don't think I have enough.

cornutt said...

What a perfect turn of phrase -- you can forgive the debt, accepting that you can never be paid back in full. Shit, that is spot the fuck on.

I have misused the phrase "I forgive you" more than once, and one time? It was the biggest mistake I could have made in the end of my marriage. He hadn't even asked for forgiveness, let alone demonstrated any bona fide regret. I just didn't want to think about it anymore and certainly didn't want to contemplate what it all meant.

I am going to have to rethink my stance on no sins beyond forgiveness, particularly as it applies to physically harming someone.

Talix said...

I think I know where you were going with that, though. Compared to rape, murder, torture, etc., unintentionally temporarily hurt feelings are pretty small potatoes.