Letting the Days Go By

November 30, 2006 at 1:55 am (Uncategorized)

There’s a Talking Heads song called ‘Once in a Lifetime,’ and occasionally, when Llew and I catch ourselves on a life path that makes no sense, or that we suspect is an utter waste of the very short time we all have, one of us will turn to the other and say ‘This is not my beautiful house, this is not my beautiful life.’ (It’s actually ‘wife,’ but that could get messy and confusing, so we’ve adapted the lyrics). We invariably laugh mightily whenever it happens, because it’s just SO TRUE that I sometimes find myself in a situation and think ‘Oh no, how did I get here?’

I’ve had jobs, relationships, friendships, meals, conversations, flights, and fights that have all, at some crucial moment or other, left me profoundly aware that I have taken a wrong turn. Somewhere, deep inside me, there’s something less formed than a voice that knows, and has always known, who I’d like to be and what I’d like to be doing with my life. It’s not hard, because it’s always been the same answer. No matter what else I’ve said, done, studied, or considered, I’ve always wanted to be a writer (there, I’ve said it). In terms of who, well, I guess as trite as it sounds I’ve always wanted to be a decent human being and leave a footprint behind that isn’t that of a monster. I am a deeply flawed individual, of course, we all are, but I think I am a better person for knowing my faults, and always trying to understand and control them. Certainly I am trying to be a better person, if for no other reason than a better me exists.

Part of that better me is a me who can be honest with the rest of me. That me says SCREW EVERYTHING ELSE, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if I am not traditionally or commercially successful as a writer, it doesn’t matter if Llew and I don’t ever turn to each other in some whopping pile and say ‘THIS is our beautiful house’ (I love our little home just as it is), I just don’t care. I used to care, and I used to care a lot. Public success, and the visible trappings of success, were two things I craved when I was a very insecure and personally unhappy teenager. Now I know – I really believe, and it’s ironic because I have always monumentally failed to have any “faith” per se – that if I just listen to that unformed thing in myself, that gut, and follow it, then I will be happy.

It is working an absolute TREAT. I have married the man of my heart, who has been my absolute and unwavering best friend for the last ten years. I have opened myself up to (saccharine alert) love in all its guises, and I have stepped off the ledge, trusting my feelings will be returned (not always, but sometimes, and more than enough). Now I have even more wonderful friends, and Llew’s family to call my own, and an abiding certainty that affection and feeling toward others is one of the only things my life is truly about. And I am writing, finally, despite the night terror of failure (there are voices better formed in me, too, of the doubters, and the fear mongers, and the ghosts of insecurities past), and I feel grateful every day that I have this one thing I love to do.

So many people – friends, some of you reading this, perhaps – tell me that they hate their jobs or, worse, their lives. They’re unhappy. They’re stagnating. They feel like they’re treading water. They’re drowning. They’re anxious. Sleepless. Feeling depressed. It’s truly shocking how many people I know who seem pretty unhappy about where they’re at, and where they’re headed. I worry about this a lot. The reason I worry is that I know time is limited. It’s obvious, we all know that at the end of our lives we are each of us guaranteed to die, but it doesn’t seem to penetrate in many people’s minds. I desperately want my friends to be happy and fulfilled. I want them to follow their hearts and stand up for whatever their own unformed thing inside is telling them, whatever it is. I want them to step off the ledge. I just CAN’T BE the only one with this thing inside helping signpost me to myself. It has taken me sooo long – 34 years – to really tune in to its frequency, but I’m there now, and I’m not changing channels for anything. If you are unhappy, please just give yourself the time and space to listen to yourself a little closer, because if there is one other thing I have come to believe, it is that the answer will never come from anywhere else.

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