our lives, like
unfinished thoughts,
are danced on a stage
with curtains drawn all around,
thinking the story whole
we twirl about
bumping into the spaces
between us until
the curtain lifts and
we realize we’re
the ‘jack in the box’

I always start this the same: “I don’t have a story to tell, I only have life to tell.” What’s the difference, though, really? Life? A story? I find myself trying to make a story out of my life. A nice little beginning, a fulfilling middle and a happy ending. Or is that what gets me into trouble? The romantic notion that I have a meaning, a place, a stage, lines? Something worthy to give, as an excuse for taking up space on this planet. A cry to Mother Earth: “Look, Mom, see what I did? I had a story/life.” Like a crayoned picture with the words “I love you” scrawled and dripping with eagerness. Eagerness to please, to be loved. Loved by this planet, that grows increasingly indignant to me, to all of us. I feel, I have to justify more and more that I get to be here, since it grows more apparent that I shouldn’t be. Climate change, like a time out warning that I haven’t done enough, and my time is running thin. Oh, the pressure.

I act like I had a choice in the matter. I stood somewhere saying “Yes, I’ll be guilty of taking up space on planet earth.” Someone said, “Are you sure?” I answered calmly, knowingly, “Yes, of course, don’t worry, I’ll justify it.” I keep scrambling on, trying to live up to this non existent contract, like so many of us. Searching for “the cure,” mastering my own Picasso, volunteering for the homeless. “Please…look at me…look at me mom!” Or sometimes diminishing under the contract’s weight, working from 9–5, in slow, debilitating resignation. Mostly, I can’t justify it, so I just keep quiet. I’ll try not to take up too much space, “don’t look at me!”

I guess my main conundrum comes down to the never ending circular philosophy of doing/being. My husband and I spend almost every late night discussion approaching this unending problem. Maybe you can clear it up for me, and Sartre. I have this undying, never ending, “belief” that my essence preceded my existence. As the rant above shows, I clearly think that I have some ultimate purpose, that is mine and mine alone, and that when I find it, it will click and everything will make sense. I don’t necessarily believe that this was somehow something I chose in a reality before this one, but might just be the perfect fit for my nature/nurture experience, up until this point. Or maybe I do think it was something from “before.” I’m a mess.

My husband, as opposed to me, has the more existential philosophy in his very being. That no, we define our purpose and we choose it now, and that we march forward creating our reality and it’s anything we choose/decide/define. As I write my own counterpoint, I tend to completely agree. I really think that Taoism is spot on with the language they use for this one. It’s not the Path we walk, it’s the WAY we walk the path. Yes, I agree with this. But…, maybe, is there something out there, just right for me, that fits just me, that I haven’t found yet?

I hear so many of my friends’ eyes rolling right now, I mean talk about first world problems? I get to sit around contemplating if the work I’m doing right now is exactly what I want to be doing. Isn’t that the point of where I am though? Because I am asking this question, I get to? Damn it, stop making me feel guilty, friends, and go back to your fulfilling lives, where you don’t have to ask these things!

So anyway, for me, and my unique journey, my thinking is painted from a few things:

  1. My ongoing tendency towards depression leads me to be constantly dissatisfied with the world as a whole. How can I find contentment in that state? Or am I depressed because I haven’t found it? hmmm?
  2. I grew up very attached to my patriarchal religion. So I was indoctrinated with the idea that a) I was “here” for a reason, and b) that I had a divine “calling.” Well, that could obviously be the end of my thinking on this one. Clearly, reason enough there as insight to my endless searching, except for the next one….
  3. I had an amazing experience as a young teenager, that I can only describe as being fully in the present, and that means so much more than just those words. I was working on my homework, and it was like a quality of matter and space surrounded me. It was the most peace and no mind that I’ve ever experienced. I felt like it had something to do with “the work” I was doing, and that I was an open vehicle for inspiration. This is what keeps me seeking out the work that will bring about that intoxicating feeling again. I think some people refer to it as “Flow State.” If you’ve never felt it, I highly recommend trying to find it as well.

Could be any/all of these reasons that will keep me searching for something just out of grasp, and no, I am not under the delusion that whatever I choose to do in this world, if it’s right, will feel like play all the time. I am not adverse to working hard. I just want to find the thing that creates that space again, at least sometimes!!

And, perhaps, the question between existence before essence, or essence before existence is one in the same and just a basic misunderstanding of linear time reality? Feel me?

So, with that long winded, guilty, beginning (get used to it, I’m full of guilt) I’ll start somewhere in the middle, or was it the beginning?….