Saturday, April 2, 2016
A Life Undone
Life makes no promises, except that it will one day end. No details are etched in stone. Nothing is certain, not even how or when we meet our demise. We know only that it will eventually happen. Everything from the moment of our birth until that day is as much a mystery as why we’re here in the first place.
When we’re young, we take life for granted. It’s there. We live it. There’s an infinite future out there somewhere with our name on it, ready to be enjoyed with great anticipation. The possibilities are endless.
We’re told things like, “You can be whatever you want when you grow up.” Yet, as we get older, we realize that we still haven’t figured out what it is that we want to be. We flounder in dreary jobs, waiting for that moment of inspiration to strike when we discover our passion. For some, that moment never comes and they drift from one meaningless job to another.
Even if we know our passion, we’re not always given the opportunity to embrace it. Sometimes, we have to let those day jobs eat up our time. If we’re lucky, though, we have enough energy left over to pursue those passions and can carve out some free time that’s not otherwise slated for earning a living and tending to the mundane. We’re able to briefly revel in what we’d rather spend every waking moment doing. If that free time is rare or non-existent, frustration and bitterness can chip away at what’s left of our creative energy if we let it.
Life is fragile. Short and fragile.
If we don’t spend our time doing what we love, why are we here? What’s the point?
The older I get, the more I hear about actors and musicians who have passed away, people whose names and faces I grew up with. They were part of an era. I suppose that’s natural: the older you are, you know more people who die. Social media reinforces this. Facebook has become one big obituary page. This makes me question my own mortality.
It also makes me think about all the people in my life. Who will share my final moments in my dying days with me? Will I die alone? How will people remember me? What’s my legacy?
My life at this moment and for the last seven years has been spent in transition. During that time, I have been without a job and nearly without a home too many times to count. My household items, as well as my most treasured family photos and heirlooms, are all packed away in storage and have been for the last five years. Each time I start to build a home or a life, there’s a major piece missing: a car, a home, a job, my family, my belongings, etc. There’s never a complete picture.
I recently chose to move back to Durango for a job, away from family, away from a place that had been home for almost 18 years, with only what would fit into two suitcases and 10 small boxes. I was starting over… again. Shortly after returning, two co-workers went on leave and my job was in flux as I helped to fill the gaps. It seemed that everything in my life was in temporary mode.
Adding to the madness, I have to reconcile my feelings and issues with big pharma and the insurance industry. After all, I work in a pharmacy. Even though I need the work and I’m grateful for the job, I’d much rather get paid to write. That now seems like an unrealistic and unattainable dream, right along with the house of my own and someone to share it with.
I am alone in this great big world. Well, not really. It just feels that way sometimes.
Instead of enjoying what’s around me, my mind gets stuck on all the things I miss: my son, my sister, hearing the seagulls and going to the shore, the tall trees of the rain forest and the lush green landscape of the Pacific NW.
Since I’ve been back in Colorado, I’ve been going to church on Sundays and I participate in a writer’s critique group. I started a new novel, set it aside, and revisited my fantasy series in an effort to improve them so they can be marketed again. Yet for everything I do, it seems like I can’t finish anything and none of it is as fulfilling as I’d like. I haven’t achieved any of my lifelong dreams or ambitions. My whole life is undone.
And so I have to wonder… If I’m not doing what I love, I’m not living where I want to be, and I’m not spending time with the people I love, what am I doing?
I’m warehousing myself in an over-priced apartment that’s in desperate need of updates while all the things that represent my real life are packed away in three storage units I have no access to. I can’t afford the storage fees anymore, but it’s cheaper than moving it all halfway across the country. I stare at blank walls each night, thinking about how I should be writing. I imagine all my stuff surrounding me, that I’m sitting on my own chair instead of a borrowed folding chair or the cheap camp chair I bought at Wal-Mart or the secondhand sofa that a co-worker gave me.
I’m living out of a suitcase in a strange hotel.
Actually, I’m not living. I’m existing. I’m taking up space. I’m not happy. I’m lonely despite all the people I know. I cry too much. I don’t eat right. I don’t sleep well, yet I never want to get out of bed in the morning. Nothing excites me.
Taking all of that into consideration, I try to feel myself slipping into a dark pit of despair. Fortunately, I’m not that far gone yet. I’m sad, not depressed. But it wouldn’t take much, I think, to push me to that point.
How do other people cope? What do they do?
I don’t want to leave my life undone. I don’t want my legacy to be someone who was barely remembered, who didn’t contribute to the world, who didn’t make a difference. I want people to know the stories in my head. I want the time and energy to write them down and finish them. I crave the desire to do these things. I want to look at my son’s baby pictures again. I want to brew some tea in my favorite teapot.
Living my last days in temporary mode, in transition, waiting for something that’s never going to happen, is not how I envision things to end.
On my last day, I want to look back at my life and be able to say, “Wow! I did all that in such a short time.”
This was intended to be a philosophical piece, but somehow became Confessions of a Whiny Whiner. It’s more therapeutic than creative, but I decided to post it anyway.
I apologize that I’ve neglected my blog for so long, and that if you’ve taken the time to read this, I may have scared you away from reading any of my work in the future. My work really is much better than this and maybe one day I’ll prove that. Perhaps you might read my short story, “The Color of Angels,” to get a better idea.
Live. Love. Be happy.
Thanks for listening.