the days go by
and nothing brings me joy
the glow was strong
when i was a boy
but it’s gone
I’m hesitant lately to write posts like this. Maybe it’s because I know what I sound like, and it’s a whiny, irritating, broken record. Maybe I don’t want this side of me to exist, and putting it in print, in public… maybe acknowledging it like this is just making it more real.
But I’ve never been one to admit when I’m really down. I don’t want to appear weak. I don’t want to burden people with my troubles, especially imagined as they often are. In my head, if you’re having a good day, then I don’t want to bring you down, and if you’re having a bad day, then you sure don’t need any extra weight on your shoulders. So I keep so much of it inside, internal, where it sometimes works itself out and sometimes grows into an ugly cancerous beast that eats away at me.
Garth and I have talked a lot lately about how I’ve got a lot more going for me than I know. But it’s not that; rationally, I know. I’m aware of my faults and weaknesses, but I’m also in keen view of the things that I possess. In reality, the problem is much deeper than that: at the end of the day, I’m not entirely sure who or what I am.
There’s a very meta component to all of this, in that what I’m about to delve into says a lot about who and what I am, and that awareness (at least, according to Neely) puts me miles and miles ahead of most of the population. And maybe I should give more weight to that. But it ultimately doesn’t provide me with the answers that I’m looking for, and so perhaps, I think sometimes, I need to rethink the question…
I do have a fair grasp on my ideal self. The values and behaviors that I’ve espoused in my words to friends and my words here pretty well sum up a lot of that: a strong sense of accountability, honest, fair, objective, relaxed and unshakable (at least by the things that commonly stress people out). I’m not where I want to be on any of those levels, but I think I’m on my way, at least.
But there are a lot of things that I’m still trying to figure out. I’m a reasonably non-materialistic person, but I think that’s either a way of feeling better about my current financial situation, or maybe something that I strive to be based on things I’ve heard all my life (that money complicates things, for instance). I’m certainly not anti-money, but I think that if my position in life one day improves, I’ll certainly embrace it.
It’s a lot of things like that that fill my box of pondering. Paradoxical sides of coins: I want to have my nights and weekends free, but I don’t want to be a day-walker. I want to stand out in a crowd, but I want to be invisible. I want to live a normal life, but that’s the last thing in the world that seems appealing to me. A lot of that is my constant desire to have what I do not, something that has always been a part of me. The grass is always, always greener on the other side of the fence. I’ve come to accept that it’s not greener, that the other side not anything-er. It’s different.
But I still try to insist that I can have it all.
Even at the age of thirty four, having been through all I have, I’ve developed little more than a core idea of self. I have always had a tendency to absorb personality traits of those around me, especially those who have what I do not, what I covet. To some level, I see the innate talent that I have, for spotting the traits that I want to pick up and knowing what they’ll get me, without consciously thinking about it; but beyond that, I wonder how often I come across as a cheap imitation. Of course, it’s possible that I never do — that each new trait that I pick up is combining with all the others in a new and wondrous way to behold. But the wonder is still there.
Melissa told me a long time ago that I was never going to be happy until I learned to love myself. She was speaking about being one half of a couple, and she was right, but not entirely there. One, I can’t really love myself until I know myself, yeah? And don’t get me wrong: I don’t hate myself. Far from it. I just happen to doubt myself, to question myself a lot. Maybe I do love myself, like I think I do, but it’s not unconditional as I need it to be.
As a sidenote, I think it’s odd, the notion that you can’t love anyone else without loving yourself. The exclusivity there doesn’t work in my head. If you don’t think you’re a very good person, but you think someone else is, why can’t you?
Two, though… two is that I think sometimes that I’m never going to be happy until I let myself be happy. Things in my head are just never right; some part of me is striving for perfection. And I’m sort of proud of that; it’s uncompromising, it refuses to settle, to accept that what we’ve been told all our lives is the best we can have is really it. It’s the dreamer, on some levels. But it’s also a serious pain in my ass, because there’s always the nagging voice at the back of the crowd in my head that is telling me that hey — maybe everyone was right, that there is a limit to what you can have in this life, and oops — you just tossed it out.
Is this search for self something that we’re all going through, or is it a sign that there really is a reason that I look so much younger than I am? I’m open to being somehow developmentally stunted, to still being a child by refusing to let childish things go. I’m also, however, open to the idea that this is okay, exceptional even, because it’s not taking the easy way out.
The problem with exploring the idea of perspective as much as I have is that sometimes you can’t fix on one.
if you knew the man i used to be
please hold me under the sea
or scratch my arms till they bleed
will you help me to feel the glow?
I don’t know that I’ve ever really felt, for more than short stretches of time, that I am stably who I am. Constantly shifting, depending on what is expected of me in situations or on who I am around and what they have that I currently don’t. Wade or Kevin could probably confirm or deny this; they’ve both known me for twenty years or more, and I suspect that they have a more fixed perspective on me than I do.
I look backwards and see parts of me that I let fade but want to reestablish. There’s a lot of passion that I’ve lost over the years, and while a lot of negative ways of thinking were left behind with the passion, I think that maybe there’s a balance that can be struck. I’ve started feeling more of my old thoughts — the ones that were best left forgotten — as I reached back to allow myself to feel again, and it’s not pleasant, but I don’t think that the two are necessarily untanglable. I can see a lot of strength at moments in my past, a lot of determination and objectivity without self-recrimination that I want back.
Perhaps life is simply wearing me down. I find myself in a place at my age that I never imagined I might, the result of years of missteps and choices that were so subtly bad that only their cumulative effects revealed them for what they are. Maybe a lot of the things I was fall by the wayside because I am, plainly, tired of the uphill struggle. But I don’t think it has to be that way.
I think maybe that I need to remember my own words, that dying is for those who don’t have any more living to do. And thanks to the Exhibit(s), and to Kasey*, and to a billion friends and acquiantances, I have much more living that I want to do.
Anyone out there that wants to drop me line about figuring out who I am — whether you can help me answer my question with observations about me, or your own experiences — please drop me a line. The info’s in the CONTACT ME link at the top of the page. Or leave anonymous (or not so anonymous) comments. Whatever you please. Ofttime, I’m writing here just to hear myself think, but there are occasions (this one, for instance), where feedback would be most appreciated. Rewarded, even.**
* Kasey, for anyone that isn’t aware, is the honest to goodness real-world name of Red. In the interest of protecting the not-so-innocent, I gave her a pseudonym, but she asked last night when I was going to call her by her real name. So there you go, love. Everyone can track you down now, and make fun of you for hanging out with a wretch like me.
** Probably not, unless you’re one of those suckers who believes that helping a fellow human out is reward in and of itself.