|Current mood:|| pensive|
|Current music:||native american flutes and drums|
degree of difficulty...
Hello, Blurty Buddies,
I just read everyone’s most recent entries, and they kinda held me spellbound. What amazing xhracters I have discovered here—a host of people coping with all different kinds of issues and intrigues, and all of them brave and honest and forthcoming, just plain admirable. So, I’m gonna give-up pimpin’ mah bitches for an afternoon, and I’ll even put my religion on hold, so that I can explore the contents of my own life and heart.
In my bio, I wrote something about it beiong a rich and full life. It’s full alright, but not exactly "rich"—not just because the Cubs lost when they were five outs away from clinching the pennant, draining the joy from almost everything; and not just because we never have any damn money no matter how much I make; but because I fill my days with satisfaction of other’s wishes and expectations. I do everything it takes to act and believe as a "good" man should, yet I can’t get me no satisfaction. No, for once in my life, I’m not talking abouyt sex—although that would be nice, too—but about that genuine "satisfaction" the psychologists describe when they discuss "the combination of liberated craftsmanship and the most exquisite sublimation." Well, ladies and gentlemen, this ol’ boy’s been sublimatin’ like a damn madman and crafting like the craftsman he is, and still I can’t get me no satisfaction. The demands keep coming too relentlessly; the joys keep eluding me.
Some things I can accept: Yeah, the laundry piles into mountains, and I bulldoze them back into foothills; yeah, the dishes pile-up, and one meal begins just as soon as the one before it concludes—like Denny’s and 7-11, we’re always open; and, yeah, all the business of keeping this band of bohemians running should count as acts of love. Yeah, getting taken for granted should just be taken as a given; what did I really expect? I didn’t expect a bunch of heathens who have no idea of love all of a sudden to effuse all kinds of warm and tender feelings; still, an acknowledgement or a "thank you" might be nice. A "please" would go a light year toward relieving the oppression. A little back-up would help. Even the absence of those little courtesies might be okay if I had fair opportunity to see myself starring in my own life. I never-ever enjoy my own attention; I never get the spotlight in my own day. Where are the pockets of peace; where are the moments of sublimity; where are the ephemeral little ecstacies that ought to make it all worthwhile? I just ain’t seein’ ‘em folks.
I picked-up a list of prompts from another journaling site, and it offered sentences for completion. One jumped out at me: "The hardest thing I ever did was…" Okay, I hate that it comes in a passive construction, but I agree the passive makes completing it a little easier. I loved the idea of considering all the difficult stuff I have attempted and the few difficult things I have accomplished. So, I took a stab at it…
I have done a whole bunch of "hard" or difficult stuff in the course of my puny little life. I pushed and punished my little body until it could butterfuly through a simming pool almost as fast as Mark Spitz. I pushed and punished myself, so that I wouldn’t feel responsible for my mother’s alcoholism or my father’s homosexual escapades. Swimming proved a great distraction from the horrors of everyday life in our "perfect" suburban home; and what better way to appear "all American" than, in fact, to have a certificate that proclaims you’re all-American in something—like 100 yards butterfly.
Then, just as difficult as surviving that "colorful" childhood, I escaped it. I worked my way through college and graduate school, flippin’ burgers and slingin’ hash, putting in way more hours than a regular little preppy oughta endure. I think most people would consider it "hard" to work fifty hours a week and still graduate college with straight A’s. I ain’t all that smart, but I got that pit-bull determination, and I have that all-American thing to honor. And, now, the astute observers will find the contradiction: He claimed that he escaped his childhood, but all that compulsive over-achieving makes it really clear that he carried it right along with him. Oh, yeah! The observers score big on that one. Yes, sir. Don, tell them what they’ve won…
I built myself a respectable life in the suburbs, complete with wife, pets, vehicles, and all the amenities. More than 200 cable channels, thank you very much. Keeping all that stuff going seemed pretty "hard" at the time, because it required two or three jobs and two or three carpools and a whole shitload of starch in those botton-down shirts. Then, I changed careers, choosing a physically demanding and socially degrading path that really has altered me forever, making me way better than ever before. Giving-up professoring—making a living as a professional liar, and taking-up carpentry—earning a living by building good things. That was "hard"…and perfectly wonderful. The nails and boards don’t lie; they don’t negotiate. Sometimes, the wood forgives, and sometimes it submits; most of the time, however, it retains its natural resistance to man’s domination, and it requires skill, guile, and craft to transform it from forest to building. That’s hard. That’s satisfying.
But it doesn’t keep a guy warm at night. It doesn’t console, cuddle, or seduce.
So, after all this consideration, the answer finally jumps out in stunning relief: Among all the hard things I have endured and accomplished, living-through this gut-wrenching loneliness stands-out as "the one"—the kahuna of difficult, the sultan of tough. Oh, yeah, I have lots of people in my life, and I have lots of repsonsibilities for the people all around me. Yet my heart still feels frighteningly empty—like an old house when the people have moved-out, like the Joads’ house two weeks after they had hit the road. And I have to keep going and keep caring anyway.
Yup, that’s the toughy supreme.