Friday, June 09, 2006

A Talent for Life

In 15 minutes it will no longer be my birthday (well, I'm not sure it really is my birthday, but I've beaten that dead horse with my friends, so I'll let it lie). Warning this may be a little rambly and it may pass into the next day before it goes up, or not.

I've always felt too old. I was sad at 18 that I could no longer be a child prodigy. At 24 I actually wrote a poem called, "On Turning 24 and Feeling it is Too Old." I looked for it to put it here, but I am glad to say I don't seem to have it on this computer. (Read an amusing line, I think in a link from Mirror up to Life that said that everyone writes adolescent poetry and that bad poets publish it, and good poets destroy it). In it I did berate myself for intellectually knowing that 24 was not too old, or even old, but emotionally not being able to see it, and the last line was the realization that I would probably feel this way for a very long time. And I was right. Every year I try to think, it's only a number (I think I used the term nearer to death), and quite meaningless. That comparisons to others is a pointless exercise--I can think of others more together, I can think of others less, and everyone has their own path--I would not want their choices. But I don't feel that I've done anything worthwhile in my life--so I should go join the Peace Corp., but I don't.
I had a therapist who made me graph my life as I saw it--high points and low points--to see how many things I had accomplished. I can console myself with it, but should I console and accept it, or should I berate myself to do better. Unfortunately berating myself just makes me want to stay in bed forever. So I really should try harder on that acceptance thing, shouldn't I? Or is that berating too. Accept that I don't accept?

Mirror up to Life has a great metaphor from football (and from theater) about talent. That it is not that the talented do not make mistakes, but rather that they are able to recover faster and better from the mistakes. On stage when someone forgets a line I am very good at improvising back to a semblance of meaning. I am very good at taking the low budgets or left over things and making art out of them, but when something serious goes wrong in my life, it is not that I never recover, it is that it seems to take me so much time.

I took time off from college. It was supposed to be a semester, maybe two. It became two and a half years, thus when I went back I already felt too old.

In the end of 2000 I had some problems in my marriage. I didn't really recover from them for about 3 years. Only now do I feel that we are back financially where we were in 2000 and I pray every day that nothing new will happen, that we can be stable for awhile, all the while listening to a clock somewhere that says, "You must make up for lost time! You're too far behind." Mentally I even feel three years younger, like I was in a coma. Can I just say that I am three years younger? That my husband is as well? That we have three more years to do better?

I feel as if I have no talent for life--for the fumbles of it, but I know that is silly. There is no such thing as a talent for life. We are all alive, therefore we are living, muddling through. There is no plan, no guideline, no should of or way it should have been or should be (see the previous post). I believe myself too clear eyed to believe in all the crazy plans--to believe in the secret. Maybe I have bigger blinders on than anyone because I desperately want there to be a secret, an answer but won't look because I know it will disappoint. Afterall if I have learned nothing else from literature, I have learned that. Maybe I shouldn't read so much. I know I shouldn't think so much. A good friend (who is also a therapist, but not my therapist) once said in a sort of free therapy session, "Boy, you've got a lot of should'ves to keep up with." At the end of Pleasantville, the mother says, "It wasn't supposed to be like this." Toby Maguire's character says (paraphrased), "It isn't supposed to be anything." I know that and I don't know it, if you know what I mean.

All of my life has been spent in the dual sides (Gemini after all, another belief system to make us think that there is order) of desiring stability and desiring adventure. Even now, when we are finally stable I keep thinking what will the next thing be--should I go to grad school, I want to move, I want to change, there has to be more/better than this.

These are things I've written of which I am rather fond. They aren't that original, but I like my language:

There is no Answer

Life has a way of happening
Whether we watch or not
And sometimes it will
Backhand you, just to see
If you're paying attention.
Life goes on; what else can it do?

Time slips past like an errant dog
Dashing between the legs
Laughing at your call.

Overheard in Passing

Life: Why do you linger, when your work is so transitory, a moment, less than a moment?

Death: I linger for the living. I have nothing to teach the dead

Life: Living is the surest and hardest way to die

I had a moment, driving last week, a moment of clarity when I realized that my 20's were spent in the 90's. That doesn't sound like much, but it seemed startling to me as if I thought of myself as an 80's child and that was all, but I lived through the 90's and I'm living now, my 30's in the first decade of the new century. Affected by it, different moment to moment. It all seemed so clear in that instant, so, dare I say it, Zen, in the moment, all the things we strive for. Having seen it, I know now a little better what I am looking for, even though I have lost it again. I remember once saying to my husband that I felt like I had ruined his life, as if had he never met me he would still be 23 with his life before him. What vanity, as if time moved with me, but we are all the centers of our own universes and it is only by the effort of will that we can see anyone else's. And what power I ascribed to myself--to create or destroy lives. I know and I do not know, simultaneously.

Well, it's a 45 minutes later. I have no better answers. Welcome new year.

(And it's my 50th post--how apropos)

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