I am closer to the Sun than I am any of my dreams. Of course, dreams are intangibles, ethereal wants and desires that may or may not come to pass based on a combination of chance, happenstance, and relationships with others. The Sun, on the other hand, is a massive G-type star that would engulf and vaporize me in its unquenchable hellish fire before I could take the opportunity to raise an eyebrow in surprise.
I have been trying to modify my thinking. In the process, I have learned two things: Firstly, that to modify one’s thinking is like trying to fix the transmission in your car while you’re roaring down the interstate, and secondly, that it is an insane thing to try and do when you’re already under a significant amount of stress; in short, you’re Keanu Reeves attempting to fix the transmission on the bus as it races to stay above 55 miles per hour while barreling down the interstate, as a harried and frazzled Sandra Bullock yells at you for not moving fast enough because “here comes a bridge embankment AAAAAAAAAAAH!”.
If I give you the impression that it is difficult, then I hope I have also given the impression that I am partially succeeding. Oh, it’s not sunshine and rainbows out the asshole yet, but I am making what I believe to be a valiant effort. Before you know it, I’ll be cropdusting rainbows. Until then, there’s a lot of pain and frustration involved, but the truth is that I have to do this. I have to change how I see life, because I am so far from my dreams, with my remaining revolutions around the Sun becoming fewer and fewer.
I spoke about this to my mom the other day, that I was worried about my future (she knows this, as I say it often). See, if I were to, by some miracle, find someone, and start a family, by the time I was 50, my child would only be 15 years old. That doesn’t seem too bad, and I know this because I have friends who have kids in their teens, while they are in their late 40s, but what concerns me is that my body is already tiring out. I have ridden it hard, all for the benefit of others. My first job was at 14, and ever since that first day, I have worked and worked and worked, and my body gets more exhausted, more broken. I can only imagine looking down the road and seeing myself trying to keep up with a fully active child.
For some, the answer is to not have children. I understand that point of view, and I’m sure it works for them, but ever since I was a teen, I wanted a family. Yes, even in high school, while my friends dreamed of being out of school, I wanted to start my life and raise a family. It’s deep, deep in my DNA, and is an overwhelming biological drive so deeply ingrained that it has kept me going all of these years, but even with that dream just out of reach, my body is slowing down, my mind is getting dull, my spirit is sapped that much more, and the dream just gets farther away. By now the Sun is my next door neighbor, by comparison.
I realize there’s nothing my mom can do about it (forgot I mentioned that earlier, didn’t you?), and I don’t mean to make her feel worse, but I have so few people to whom I can vent, aside from this blog, and both of my readers must be tired of hearing the yip yip yipping that comes their way via my one channel where I express my thoughts.
Even when I’m working hard on taking care of her, or handling the day to day drudgery that complicates every corner of my life, my brain still plies power to the notion of finding a way out of this situation while lifting my family up with me. I mean, I want them to be free of the hole they’re in, too. For me, it would be unconscionable to just leave them down there while I escape. Still, after years of effort, there seems to be no end in sight.
Do you know what it’s like to not experience freedom? To stay home with your parents year after year, decade after decade, trying to constantly put out fires and keep balance? It is exhausting. It is soul crushing, and the path heading out of the tunnel seems interminable. I see so many of my high school friends, who laughed at the idea of family and career, working towards degrees, better jobs, and raising families. A friend of mine just celebrated her daughter’s graduation. Yes, it has been that long since I left high school, that an entirely new generation has already passed through those halls, and yet here I am, in the same place, with the same people, doing the same thing, and going nowhere.
I love them, I really do, though I’m sure if they read this they wouldn’t understand these feelings. Not these. They can understand loneliness, they can understand pain, and guilt, but they cannot understand this feeling of suffocation; of being trapped in an endless loop of boredom and drudgery while so many get to taste the sweetness of life. My mom tries, she really does. She tells me “some of your friends marriages ended in divorce, but you didn’t have to go through that.”
She doesn’t understand that all it does is salt the wound. Yes, my friends made mistakes, but they got to choose. They made their choices and forged ahead, uncertain of what would come of those choices. They lived! They grew! They savored! Yes, they wept, but they also cried tears of joy and not just sorrow! They made life, they made love! Their mistakes were ones upon which they could build a better life, and many of them did! I was denied these choices, I was denied these experiences! I did not taste the bitterness of a love turned sour, but instead the bitterness of a non-existent love untried and untested!
I am the fork in Frost’s road not taken. I can see the pathways ahead of me, and I see so many traveling them, but my thoughts aren’t of caution or encouragement, but ones of envy. Good or bad, yes or no, left or right, they made their choices, they saw their futures, they began to travel the roads of their lives, and here I am, sitting at the crux, being told that I’m the lucky one? I am no more lucky than the dying cat which sees the mouse choose the trap over the cheese, because even though he made the wrong choice, I still lay dying, so what have I learned? A pain that has no purpose, and a pain that has no purpose does not teach.
If I cannot learn, I cannot live. If I cannot live, then why is dying such a frightening specter? It is because I know in death I will have forfeited all of my choices for eternity. In life, we have limited choices, for a limited time, but those choices are ours to make. Even I, as exhausted, and disillusioned, as I am, can still see that. There is no such thing as happily ever after, because ever after will go on without us for a great while, and even ever after itself will become consumed by entropy.
If, perhaps, you think this is a roundabout way of my wanting to strangle the next idiot who gleefully cries out “YOLO!”, you’re right, that is a minor motivation, but the bigger motivation is that I am stressed, and strained inside my body, and that my mind is breaking in places I so dearly wish it wouldn’t break, so I have to change my thinking. I have to turn this shit into sugar. I have to create sunshine and lollipops out of a bitter pablum that has been shoved into my mouth. At the very least, I have to convince myself it is so. I don’t crave self delusion, but if it will preserve my life, I’ll swallow it anyway, for now.