Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Leading an Adventurous Life... in My Own Home

It's over. 

I have trouble with endings. 

Over the last two months I've spent a lot of time realizing that I'm having horrible withdrawal from the adrenaline that comes from a few years of consistent travel and a massive life changing move. 

When I left Pennsylvania, I swore I'd never return. Now I've moved back and am in almost precisely the same location I said I'd never come back to. I'm easily comfortable here, which ironically feels wildly uncomfortable. 

I've heard the line, "I'm so happy you're back, but I was really surprised you returned" more times than I can count.

It kinda feels like failure because I spent so many years talking about and preparing to leave, I finally left, and then came back after only a year.  

Ultimately, what I struggle with the most is that this is not what I thought would happen. I didn't have a plan per se, but this wasn't part of my unplanned plan. If you happened to read my earlier post this month, "Sometimes when you lose, you win", you know the main reason I came back was for love.

That's big, right? Most of us skeptics are generally pretty adverse to making big life decisions for such seemingly intangible concepts.

But for me, I've learned how important love is largely because of my mother and my best friend. I've been broken hearted and also very very lucky. 

During this gray area of my life, I'm learning that maybe searching for an adventurous and passionate life is like searching for happiness. I think it has less to do with searching and more to do with being open. Sometimes you have to just live your life and be open instead of frantically searching for the end results because really, there isn't an end to any of it until the very end, which is when we cease to be alive. At that point, then we can have our regrets or make our peace. 

Until then, the gray area is very often not just a piece of our lives, but a very large part. The new rage is to go out and find your passion, be exciting, be interesting, be different, daring and bold- which I think holds a lot of merit; however, how many people promoting that life tell you how difficult and sometimes painful it can be until you get there? And who tells you just how long it may take? Or that you could go the majority of your life before you find it? Or that, heaven forbid, you never really find that one thing?

I, for one, don't want to feel like a failure for the majority of my life simply because I didn't/wasn't able to figure out what exactly would make an adventurous passionate life for me in the eyes of others, and even myself.

I do want to live my life the best of my ability and often that's going to mean doing things that look pretty routine, and possibly even mundane, on the outside. (Grocery shopping, anyone?)

Currently, I have no plans for traveling to foreign exotic places or finding innovative new work. At the moment, I'm writing this blog then going to clean our cozy little house. 

My most exciting plans are going to a concert tonight with my boyfriend and making dinner plans with friends for the next few weeks.

Admittedly, though doing domestic house chores likely ranks up there with "routine and mundane," it feels pretty good to have a home to clean after living out of bags and cubbies. It feels particularly good knowing I'll have a clean home to have dinner parties in because I have tons of time to cook which is something I happen to love to do.

Perhaps an adventurous life has less to do with doing what looks exciting and more to do with doing what feels good to you, even when other people think it's boring, maybe especially when...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

"I Want to Die"

"If relationships matter most then [at the end of our lives], 
shouldn't they matter most now?" 
-Max Lucado 

Before any of you get concerned, I don't actually want to die.

But there was a time when I did.

Years ago, that phrase haunted my mind during most waking hours. If you've ever felt that way, truly genuinely wanted it to all be over because you just couldn't imagine how anything would ever be better, you'll easily understand this post. If you've had bad days but couldn't fathom ever wanting to check out, you are lucky and it might take a bit more, but try anyway.

On Saturday I found out one of my old friends shot himself the night before. I've lost a lot of friends to suicide over the years, and every single time I wonder what the differentiating factor is between who makes it through and who doesn't.

The age old nature or nurture question pops into my mind first- "How much is determined by environment and how much is an inherent strength?" Then I think about that cliche "you're never given more than you can handle," and wonder if maybe that's not entirely true.

I hear opinions varying from the sympathetic to the judgmental. "How could they be so selfish?? Why weren't they thinking about everyone who loves them? Why weren't they thinking about ME, how I would feel???"

But then I think two things. 1. Maybe they did think of you and (erroneously) thought you'd be better off without them and 2. Did they know you loved them or even cared at all?

I'm not going to write an in-depth analysis of suicide because I have no answers.

Sometimes I have what I equate to survivor's guilt. I have no idea how I survived the years when I wanted it to all be over. Perhaps it was because I was lucky, maybe because I was blessed enough to have at least one person who loved me at some point each step or maybe it's because of an uncontrollable character trait I was born with.

Most likely it's some incalculable equation of them all. I wish I knew how and why I'm still here and they aren't. Maybe some of them would still be here then.

The one thing I do know is there's a pervasive loneliness that I've watched shape the way people see themselves and the rest of the world. We live in a world that's more socially interconnected than ever, and yet our sense of displacement is increasing.

So often I've heard the last words were something along the lines of, "Nobody would care if I was gone. I can't handle any of this, I don't know how to fix it. I'm so alone. "

Why is that?

We hear the old wisdom and see it burned onto a crafty pieces of wood,"Love the ones you're with", "Home is where you feel love", and other stupid bullshit that sounds great and we whole heartedly agree, but we still ignore it or at least don't really live it out... till things like this happen.

We could use cop-out lines like, "they needed to change their perspective" or "they wouldn't have believed me, it wouldn't have made a difference," but sometimes I think that's a cover for the guilt we feel because we remember all those times we thought to call but didn't or said we were "too busy" to talk or hang out.

The world we live in will continue to move at unmercifully dizzying speeds. It's easy to have a rational sounding excuse to dodge putting the effort into the people we say we love, but when the end comes, we're too often left with regrets.

Love changes everything. I'm not saying that we can prevent all suicides. There are innumerable factors that play in, many of which we never know about. I am saying that there is a problem with the growing sense of disconnection and displacement.

We all have a role to play in that.

We don't get control over how someone else experiences life, but we do get control over how much love we give.

Sometimes, it makes a difference. I know it did for me.

"As the globalized placeless world spreads... it could be that the most radical thing to do is to belong."
 -Paul Kingsnorth

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Turning Point

I do this every year. 

Every year on this day, I add plus one to the count. 

Today makes 15. Fifteen years since mom died. 

It's weird every year. Every year I wonder how it's been so long already...

I miss her, always. Though, after years of contemplation, I finally realized I've had her on a pedestal. 

It's something we all do when someone we love dies. We forget the awful and remember the good, as I think it should be. 

Mom struggled with nameless debilitating health issues for over two decades which meant the whole family was just trying to survive. Our lives were dedicated to her.

The reality for me is that if she were still here, I would likely not have taken all of the chances and opportunities I did. I wouldn't have traveled so much, I wouldn't have lived in two other states and most importantly, I wouldn't be as close to my dad and sister as I am now. 

Last year (the 14th year) was a big year because it was the point at which she had been gone longer than she was with me. 

This year is big because, although on some level I always knew it, I'm finally fully realizing and admitting that while her absence has been scarring and I miss her always, dare I say it....

Life has been better since she's been gone.

When I say that life has been better, I don't mean that I've been enthralled to not have her here. I'm consistently sad when anything happens that I want to share with her- the good, the bad, the happy, the disheartening...

Hearing the trite old saying that she's still with me somewhere out there is annoying at times because her being "out there somewhere" is not an acceptable substitute for being "right here to hug me and tell me everything will be fine."

I'd give anything to have my mother here if she could be happy and healthy, but she rarely ever was for any of the time I knew her. So while I detest trite platitudes, the saying that she's better off because she's not suffering anymore holds some truthful solace.

This is a big anniversary because it's an intentional step away from grieving.

I can't spend the rest of my life wishing for something that I will never have again. I can spend the rest of my life grateful that I had it for the time that I did. 

Happy 15th year mama. Here's to peace for both of us.