Thursday, September 27, 2007

ponderings from the past

Just found this one on a private journal I was keeping...it was dated September 2006, long before things like Code Green, going to Vegas with my parents, saying goodbye to Jim, random bits of family drama, bronchitis, sick cats [heck, it was before I even adopted Bean]. I find it just as relevant now as it was a year ago...though I'm not sure if that is a good or a bad thing.

<--begin inserted text-->

September 3rd, 2006

I dreamt I was given a choice: forty more years of life as it is right now in this moment, status quo, or two years only, to be filled with joy, love, companionship, confidence, contentment, all guaranteed. A choice between existing and *living*.

And then I awoke. And thought. And pondered. And told myself that I didn't need some nebulous, dreamworld "they" to give me a chance to live, and certainly didn't need "them" to limit it to two years. I can live now, this moment. Go, travel, be, do. Live, love, laugh.

Then reality sank in. It's not that easy. Life is a struggle. It takes money to "go, travel, be, do". To have money, you need a job. But once you have a job, your time is limited, and it's harder to travel and go and do. So you quit the job. And for a while, you are free. Your time is your own, and you are living. But then you worry...you can't go *there* because it costs too much. You can't do *that* because it will eat into your savings. You find yourself doing less, living less, in order to conserve dwindling supplies of cash.

And companionship is hard to find, harder to maintain. That one is too needy too soon. That one has too much history, too much baggage. This one is too self-focused, that one is too far away, and the other one is just too different. You find yourself compromising more and more, just to have someone to spend the time with. Then you pay more of that too-important money to someone who helps you realize that the compromise has to be a mutual venture, and if it isn't, then it's not healthy and you need to move on. But that means that you find yourself alone more than you'd like, and wondering if it's all worth it. "Trust me," says the person-you-are-paying, "it's worth it. When you find it, or it finds you, it will all be worth it. And you'll be doing it on your terms, and their terms, and it will be happy and healthy and wonderful."

Intellectually, you agree. Absolutely, you say. Darn tootin'. And for a while, you feel better, knowing that you are improving yourself, becoming healthier. But time passes, you look around, and you see that others have somebody and you don't. Yeah, sure, that one has somebody because they *always* have somebody...they haven't been without somebody for more than six months at a time. Good for *you*...you aren't with someone just to fill a void. They don't know if they can truly be alone, while you've faced that demon and come through it, knowing you are okay with being alone. But damn it, is it worth it? Is this enlightened self-knowledge really worth it? Ignorance can really be bliss sometimes...trouble is, you can't go back.

So given the choice of forty more years of self-knowledge and the possibility of something better being around the corner, or only two years of living, really living, guaranteed...which would you choose? Take the chance and play the odds of time, or take the sure thing and live those two years for all they were worth?

Not an easy choice...

<--end inserted text-->

6 comments:

Sean D. Martin said...

It takes money to "go, travel, be, do". To have money, you need a job. But once you have a job, your time is limited, and it's harder to travel and go and do.

Life is choices and trade offs. And we forge our own prison bars. If someone wants to go, travel, be, do they can. Perhaps not in the style of they'd prefer, but that's the trade off. It's a choice made.

stacey said...

Very true. Life is about compromise...it's a matter of how much compromise you want to make.

My parents are in the grips of that now...both are retired, and have some disposable income, but both are suffering from terminal illnesses. So they travel and experience life, but have to compromise on the depth and breadth of the adventures. They willingly make those compromises, though, because the only other choice is [as you put so well] to live behind prison bars of their own forging.

Some things are truly out of our control; other things are ultimately a matter of choice [even not making a choice is choosing].

[Now to renew my passport and go, travel, be, do... :^) ]

Roy H. said...

That's an easy one, at least for an objectivist like me. Take the 40 years if they're guaranteed and make something out of the time, if that choice is still yours. I would rather have the time to make my own choices, triumphs and mistakes than a relatively short period of blissful ignorance.

Yes life is a struggle sometimes, if you're lucky. All it takes is a thought about all the people who die young from a variety of reasons out of their control to make you appreciate having something to strive for. The next vacation, significant other or whatever puts a smile on your face, it's worth dealing with the everyday minutiae.

Or at least that's my viewpoint.

stacey said...

We are born dying. There is a quote from one of the Sandman graphic novels that really resonated with me...Death is collecting people, and one of them asks her, "Is that all I get? It's not enough."

Her reply was, "You get what everyone gets: a lifetime."

Sean D. Martin said...

Sandman #8. Sound of her wings. (Yes, I can establish my comic-geeky credentials. I also completely ROCKED the "Star Trek Episode Titles" category on Jeopardy the other night.)

If I recall correctly, the "s that all I get?" came from an infant who died in their crib. So, yeah, it got a lifetime. But I'd still feel gypped it that was all *I* got.

stacey said...

Yep, that's the one. Greetings to a fellow Sandman reader...