I’m 48 years old now. Does it even matter? I don’t care anymore how many wrinkles are around my eyes. How thin the skin is getting on my eyelids. How thin the hair is coming out. I don’t care that my eyelashes are fading away to oblivion.
What I care about is people.
I care about the fact that I like to make people laugh. That I can help people forgive themselves when they are shitheads to themselves or each other. Not by ignoring what they’ve done but by learning from it. I care about the fact that I know how to be patient and calm most of the time and when I’m not there’s usually a pretty fucking damn good reason for it. I am proud of the fact that I can teach people how to communicate. To get out of their fucking shells and live in this world and stop hiding behind gadgets and gizmos because I know, even though there is a lot of joy to be had from all that shit, that ultimately what we all really need for happiness is connection. Face to face, skin to skin, eyes to eyes connection. Those are the memories you’ll remember when you’re lying on your deathbed. Not the time you sat in the car and stared at your phone for an hour to kill the monotony.
I sound like a preacher most of the time. I think it’s because of all the catholic school. Sometimes I hate that. Sometimes I embrace it. Sometimes I wonder why the hell I can’t write about anything else. And then eventually I accept the fact that this is who I am right now and I jolly well should just enjoy it. I better be who I am until I am sick of it and only then will I be ready to move on and be somebody else.
I’ve been pretty angry lately. Not so much anymore but lately. Anger is a good thing though. It can clear your mind….and your life… pretty quickly.
Augusten Burroughs taught me this with his book This is how.. It has a very long title. I’m not going to repeat it all now but, believe me, it’s an amazing book.
Of course I’ve felt other things, too. I’ve been happy, grateful, silly. I can feel lots of things but anger is kind of an unusual for me. I don’t usually like to go there, but more and more as I get older, I’m less afraid of going there.
When I was younger, I was very afraid of getting angry. I was always worried about losing people. Losing friends, jobs. I did lose a job once to anger. I stormed out of a coffeeshop because I felt like the owner didn’t give a shit about the women in the coffeeshop who worked there even though it was a feminist coffeeshop. But it doesn’t matter. I learned from it. I learned that it’s ok to get angry. Just go home and breathe first before you decide to write that resignation letter.
I’ve learned that you can get angry and even while you’re still angry you can make sure you’re not saying things that you will regret later.
And I’ve learned not to deal with other situations that make me angry when I’m already dealing with a situation that is getting me angry. Sometimes I’m tempted to handle other people and scenarios that fuel the anger just because I’m already in the darkened mood and I think, ‘Why the hell not? Let’s kill two birds with one stone while i’m at it.’ But somehow, my rational mind takes over and keeps me from getting angry in two directions at once.
And I’ve learned to walk away from people who make me angry if it’s going nowhere.
I may walk away for a moment, an hour, or forever, but it’s good to walk away.
i do but i don’t. i care but i don’t. i have spent too much of my life caring too much what other people, so now i have to learn how to not care so much. sure, care a bit but not so much since i have spent the MAJORITY OF MY LIFE WORRYING TOO MUCH ABOUT OTHER PEOPLE’S OPINIONS.
yup i was a people pleaser. i was that little girl who was so good at making her parents proud… which was fine. no harm done until that one day i realized that i didn’t know what i wanted. i knew what everyone else wanted though, really well.
and then i took that same ability that i had honed so well as a young person and applied it to adulthood. i got really good at making everyone happy. significant others. bosses. friends. whoever it was. but what did i want? i didn’t know. and that’s why i started to write.
writing is sometimes pretty much the only guaranteed way back to myself.
when the rest of the world pulls on me, my heartstrings, my purse strings, and everything else… writing ties all the loose threads back together and makes it all make sense again.
there’s a buddhist monk who talks about how we are all drawn to distraction. drawn to addictions. drawn to anything that will fill the void. writing fills my void because it helps me remember that i don’t have to see myself as a void in the first place. i can keep gushing forth just as long as anyone will listen. even if nobody listens. i can listen to myself and make sense of the cacophony in my head.
When you’re writing, you get to be close to your own mind. Super close. You notice your thoughts microscopically. You come to terms with them. Maybe at first glance they seem strange and embarrassing but then with more thoughtfulness comes understanding and perhaps acceptance. You tease out any knot in your brain eventually just by writing about it. Or talking aloud about it. But stifling it in your head doesn’t work.
Just like making love. You can’t just make love to someone in your head. Well, you can but it’s not that satisfying. Ok, well it’s a teensy bit satisfying but what’s really satisfying and unforgettable are the moments, the snapshots of closeness that never fade once the event is over. You don’t realize how important those moments are until they’re over. You can smell them in your mind. Taste them. Touch them.
Just like writing. Once I’ve written something, it’s almost like I never have to go back. Like watching a movie and not needing to watch it again. I remember practically every sentence. I remember where I am when I’m writing it down. Especially if it’s a thought that hit me while driving or walking. Writing is like making love because I adore every word. Every word comes out and my brain feels a little less cloudy. It makes me happy knowing that it will travel into someone else’s fatty flesh in their head. And what makes me even happier is knowing that some tiny, weird thought that hit me might make someone else smile or laugh or feel some kind of emotion that I’m feeling.
It’s like sex. Writing is a reminder that we’re not alone. That we trust someone enough to take it all off and let them see how we really are. Weird sounds, cellulite, awkward grimaces and all. We reach across the empty space and feel.
it’s good to be useless sometimes. pointless. unproductive. turn things in a bit or a lot late. push things away. procrastinate. wait a bit too long. make up some excuses.
i had a student once who talked about how in asia he had to go to so many hours of school. school all day long. like 12+ hours of school each day. he had so much school that he would get very good at ditching school and making up excuses for not going. i sympathize with him. what’s the point of it all if all you do is abide by somebody else’s made up rules. it’s time to listen to the beat of your own drum. at least once in a while for chrissakes. how will this world progress if nobody thinks for themselves?
i am too good at being dutiful. too good at checking off lists and keeping up. i need to get better at ditching my duties and playing hooky.
this is why i celebrate remembering my childhood. because at least at that age it was more likely that i’d heed the beat of my own drum.
all kinds of studies have proven it again and again. being too ‘productive’ and dutiful eventually stifles creativity. if any company is going to grow, it has to allow its workers time to play and create (e.g. google) and not be on such a rigid timeline. and i think that goes for how to manage your life on your own time. stop being so damn productive.
i’m tired. tired of being good.
tired of checking emails and responding. tired. and i know the sooner i respond to them, the sooner i will get more so that’s why i put them off. keep it at bay. let the world solve some of its own problems and self-generated hysteria.
here are a few simple things i know to be true right now. true and devoid of negativity.
- i found a new pen that i like. i like it even better than that other pen that i was convinced was the savior of all pens a few weeks ago. i want to order some of these new pens online. they’re amazing.
- my cat willow’s fur is grey but it’s amazing. a dazzling grey. it literally sparkles and glistens at each tip. it’s got a sheen to it. and her blubbery glory is all the more merrier because of it.
- going to sleep by 11pm is key. hardest thing in the world for me to do when i feel like nothing exciting enough has happened that day to warrant me the pleasure of going to sleep and letting another day slip by on this planet earth, but oh well. maybe sleep is the pleasure sometimes.
- i want to go soon and use my pen before 11pm strikes.
- if it weren’t for my students each new quarter, i don’t know what i would do. aside from my friends and family, my students are literally the happiest thing that happens to me each day. no matter what is happening, my students remind me to have fun, stay curious, and don’t give in to negativity. they’re too young to know any better. and i like being around that kind of energy.
- i want to be outside more. always.
- i’m working on ways to laugh more.
- if anything, that’s my modest gift to the world. a need to find the pointless silliness in things. more stupid stuff to laugh at. be less serious. lighten up. take the big fat stick out of your ass and laugh. yup, that’s what i’m shooting for, if anything.