“Nobody is just one person, she had learned.” – from Gail Godwin’s “Dream Children”
So, I’m a pretty easy-going guy. That’s what I’d tell you at a party and we were making small talk. “Things roll off my back when they don’t go my way, I don’t let things get to me.” And that’s how I come off, too. All smiles, all laughs. I think the kids these days would call it “chill.” Catch me sober in the light of day and ask me anything specific about myself, though, and you will hear stammering, see fidgeting and I will give you absolutely no eye contact. I’m not languishing when I tell you this. It’s just the truth that my mouth doesn’t like telling, so my body does it instead.
I’ve always been this way to some degree, but it’s sort of taken center stage as I’ve progressed into my forties. Who said this was the time of life where I was supposed to stop giving a fuck? I’d like to hang out with them and ask them about their philosophy of life and why they’re so goddamn confident. My three best friends are Lexapro, Klonopin, and the doctor that prescribes them to me every ninety days. Like the old American Express traveler’s checks slogan, I don’t leave home without them. They help, yet they don’t. Anyone who’s had to take such things will tell you that it’s done wonders for them. And in a way, it’s done wonders for me. The things that used to make me angry or frustrated still have their same effect, but I sort of.. forget about it after a few minutes. So instead of a cross-country plane ride where there’s an escalation, a long plateau (hours or days), and an eventual landing, it’s more of a roller coaster ride that lasts 12-16 hours. Every. Single. Day.
Now I’ll tell you a little secret. I know exactly what causes my frustrations every single day. It’s not a boss, it’s not a commute, it’s not even barely living paycheck to paycheck. I could deal with all of this if it was part of fulfilling some sort of life goal or dream of a lifetime. My frustration comes from unwittingly taking the path of my parents, whom I love and miss so very much. They both had jobs with the state that were pretty dismal, but the ultimate goal was to just get through it and retire in thirty years. Growing up in a small town and having everything I had going for me, I thought I’d get out into the world and do something different with my life. Something exciting. Something I’d love and tell friends about with pride and a big white smile. Well, that didn’t quite happen.Actually, it didn’t happen at all. No “quite” about it.
This may not make for a good blog post, but I am coercing myself into writing these things because they need to be said. The brain is a master of protecting a person from the situation they’re in by going into auto-pilot. Days and people are just bushes and fence posts whisking by as you look out the window of a speeding car that you aren’t even driving anymore. The passenger seat can be so much more comfortable, even though it makes the ride much more maddening. So, this is just a bit of a coming-to-terms with myself and where I am. This entire post is incredibly uncomfortable to write. I hate talking about myself. I constantly feel I have nothing interesting to contribute. I have nothing interesting at all. Except my cats. Now, they’re awesome. I suppose I’m writing this just to get it out of the back of my brain, and maybe someone will read it and know they’re not alone if they’re feeling the same way I do.
Re-evaluation and changing can happen at any age, but it always takes exactly as much time as it wants to happen. The theme of change and breaking old habits and re-evaluating life choices and “how the fuck am I gonna do that” figure prominently in my head these days. The clock and the calendar aren’t waiting for me. It’s time to move. Nobody is just one person. Nobody has to be just one person. I just have to find those other people in my head so we can have a town hall meeting.
Okay, that’s enough for now. Incidentally, the link in the quote at the top of this post takes you to one of my absolute favorite stories from one of my favorite authors. If you choose to read it, I hope you enjoy it.