A Gradual Fall
“Sometimes there is not a clear moment when the fall begins; there is just a thickening of life’s energy, as if a person had been sleeping on a hillside, and awoke to find the weather changed, the landscape unfamiliar, and wild beasts approaching. That is Dante’s story, and it is common in a life that is otherwise peaceful. A man realizes his wife has drifted away into an interior place inaccessible to him, that his long marriage is probably ending, and that his children are strangers to him. He does not know where the divide began; he was busy working and doing what he thought good. Yet now when he looks at his family across a table there is a chasm, and it seems as if a cold wind is blowing in a room that was previously so familiar as not to be noticed.” The Light Inside the Dark by John Tarrant, p. 34-35
It is almost impossible not to be this guy at some point. You are doing what you believe is good and right, coping admirably, or so you think. La la la la la.
I “awoke” last year to discover that I did not have the resources I thought I had, that I was taking for granted. They had been removed one thread at a time, until there was nothing left to yank out from under me. It was a rude awakening.
I know that thickening of life’s energy, the grogginess. I am still rubbing my eyes, looking disbelieving at the foreign landscape.
And I have learned the hard way that I don’t have the ability to force things to change on my own. Perhaps trying to force change is a bad idea, but I’ve always thought that that was the whole concept of “taking responsibility.” I refuse to be a good, little victim. I would rather be real and obnoxious than a pleasant, amiable victim.
I am pushing fifty and am realizing just how ugly this perpetual-preparation mindset is. I’ve gotten my education, paid for my grave marker and funeral expenses, and gotten my house ready for sale. OK. Now what? I’m done. I am now past the halfway marker in my life, trying to figure out what I want to be when I “really” start my life when Barry dies, or when I grow up, whichever comes first.
Can I change my thinking? Can I ever just live my life, instead of preparing for a next phase that I may or may not ever have? This is a serious challenge. Perhaps the ultimate challenge and the only one that I will care about meeting in my life. Nothing matters if I am only living for what comes next. What if there is no “next”? What if I am not in-between phases and this is it? Can you imagine if I were 70 years old, preparing for my eighties? How pathetic would that be? That thought makes me shudder. Even if my life sucks, it’s mine and I am going to live it. Now.