Once upon a time, in this very galaxy, there was a woman who believed in everything. She believed in love, in success for hard work, in honesty and truth, in that beauty that comes so often when something of real value is revealed. She hung onto those beliefs for so many years, quite likely being sniggered at for them, behind her back.
One by one, nearly all those beliefs were stripped away, and left, like the litter of the careless, on the roadside.
Her belief in love lost its grip when things got tough. She thought…well, life is tough, there are always ups and downs, love is the glue that hold two people together, back to back and fighting for each other when the dice roll the other way and calamity strikes. Turned out that wasn’t quite the case. She kept fighting. He threw in the towel. She noticed his absence in the silences when he was around, silences that were so much deeper and colder than any silence in the house when he wasn’t there at all. She noticed that those casual little touches, taking her arm if the ground was slippery with mud or ice, a shoulder squeezed in passing, sitting on the same sofa when watching an evening movie on TV, even the smiles, those unremarkable ones that are affectionate and somehow say ‘I’m glad to be here’, had all vanished.
Sex had been gone for a long time.
She didn’t believe in sex for sex’s sake. It wasn’t her style. She wanted it with emotion, and that wasn’t happening in the relationship she’d forsaken everyone else for. So it wasn’t happening anywhere.
She turned to her other loves. Making things grow, a place she’d dreamed of her entire life and had loved with a passion; and stretching her imagination, that creator of words and worlds and people who might disappoint, might fail but for whom the consequences were always clear and just.
The home place would be foreclosed. That dream gone. All the years of growing and working and fighting for something real, not wasted, for such things are never a waste of time or strength, but never to be realized, never to come to the fruition that had been in her mind when she began.
In her dreams, the ones that made it to the page, emotion seeped, then trickled then flooded through. It wasn’t good enough. It would always be an escape — no one could ever take that — but it wouldn’t be a public declaration of feeling and conviction. It wasn’t good enough for that. It took time to see that. The initial consensus seemed optimistic but eventually proved to be another shattered dream.
She sat in her room, and stared at the walls, wondering what she’d done that had been so wrong, to lead here.
You would think that after many decades of watching people, of visiting far off places and being tested in a variety of ways, physical, mental and emotional, that I’d be more savvy with the whole life business.
It seems not. Maybe the world didn’t really change. Maybe it only felt that way. Mostly, there’s just a sense of confusion left. How did things all get to this point without warning?
Not wanting to see the progression would be one answer. Who wants to look at their relationship and declare it a waste of time? Especially when there are children involved? Is that even the right choice? The love might have gone, leaving only a dissatisfied affection for what had been, could have been, might never be again, but isn’t that one of the foundation stones of a marriage? That commitment to come what may? At what point, really, does one say…I’m never going to be happy again?
Losing dreams is a part and parcel of life. When I was young, I tried out hundreds of dream lives. Threw myself in and gave them my all and realized, one by one, they weren’t for me, not really. It was experience and memories and wonderful times and a clarity that helped to continue to narrow the focus. The last dream, the most important one, broke hardest. I still believe in it but the choice to keep it isn’t mine to make.
That too has an impact on the choices of love and commitment. When the one you love takes away your dreams, in some peculiar subconscious sabotage of both relationship and life, how does commitment fare then?
Passion without discipline is chaos. I can’t remember who said that now, but it’s always struck me as being the truth. Any form of art is expression. The more emotion, the deeper and more chaotic the expression of it. Without discipline to make it mean something to others, that is, to bring form and structure and provide clarity.
I love writing. Possibly more even than the place I thought would be home forever. Certainly more than the man with whom I’d shared everything important about myself, and who had dismissed those things as being without value. So, coming to the realization, perhaps foolishly belated, that this one thing I loved so much would never be what I wanted it to be, has been a blow.
Is it a mistake to give everything you have to someone, some place, something? Was that where I went wrong? Holding nothing back, thinking that with enough energy, enough research and drive and compassion and fight, things would somehow turn out all right in the end?
It’s not a singular state of affairs. It replays across the world and through every country, culture, demographic and section of the human population every minute of every day. It doesn’t make a person special in any way.
Within a culture of success being measured by wealth and position, and a distorted and unreal definition of happiness, are we now chasing dreams that really cannot be captured? Forgetting that happiness is a by-product, not an end goal, of living productively, doing things that bring satisfaction? That wealth in its best form is enough to live on and have the time to do the things that bring joy? That position, whatever that may mean to anyone, is only to be respected by others for tangible values like intelligence, or competency, or ability?
I’m sitting here, staring at the walls, wondering what I could have possibly changed to arrive at a different place. Looking back, there are no wildly neon signs, stating Wrong Way! Go Back! A different man? Possibly, but that was the man I found, and who, at the time, I believed had found me. A different dream? Sure. There are a million. It hadn’t been ambitious at the time and still isn’t. No palace by the sea or skyhigh penthouse in the clouds of a glamorous city. They don’t advertise themselves as potential failures.
As for the ways to express the longings and aches and flaws in the soul…I’m not sure there’s a choice in those. Only the understanding, eventually, that one can either do it, or one can’t.