I have been watching old episodes of Kung Fu while exercising in the morning. Two of my favorites are the Besieged episodes (Death on Cold Mountain, Cannon at the Gates) -- though they bring a bittersweet reminder of my days of taekwondo, as well as an ancient remembrance of the kindling of first fire between two people. Awash in these memories, I feel the full weight of my fifty years.
Yet: I am still young on the inside.
In every winter's heart there is a quivering spring, and behind the veil of each night there is a shining dawn. -- Kahlil Gibran
I thought I had finally come to terms with the Unmooring of three-and-a-half years ago. I have moved on, have new projects, new tasks, new work. I am very busy; there is not much time to reminisce about anything, especially right now.
And yet, today in the course of different work, I came across a publicly available copy of a project from my former employment, and was struck by the signature of one of my coworkers on the document. It has been so very long since I have seen that handwriting. And yet, I would recognize it anywhere.
Suddenly, I am sad, all over again.
Perhaps I shall drop my former coworker an email tomorrow. For old times' sake.
Beloved Husband is away for business this evening, and so it is just I and the chihuahuas passing the time at home. I brought home a rotisserie chicken for them, and some mediocre grocery-store sushi for me, and we had a companionable dinner together. We decided not to clean the kitchen (I, because the dishes will still be there in the morning; and they, because they do not have opposable digits). Instead, we parked ourselves in the study, and I worked a bit on a longer-term project while they snored peacefully in the blanket in my lap. A not unpleasant way to spend an evening.
We've now paused the work for a bit, and are perusing the interwebs while listening to old 1980s "hair band" ballads. The music of that era will always have a special place in my heart, for it is the music of my youth and coming-of-age. It doesn't seem so long ago, somehow.
Right now, it is Bon Jovi - I'll be there for you. I think this is the first time I have listened closely to the lyrics. If one were to listen to only the chorus, one would think that this is a song of devotion:
I'll be there for you, these five words I swear to you When you breathe, I want to be the air for you I'll be there for you I'd live and I'd die for you I'd steal the sun from the sky for you Words can't say what love can do I'll be there for you
The verses, though, tell a larger story: that of bad behavior and regret:
I wasn't there when you were happy And I wasn't there when you were down Didn't mean to miss your birthday baby I wish I'd seen you blow those candles out
Well, that's sad.
Perhaps it was the underlying sadness of this song that made it appeal so much to the angst-filled teenagers of the 1980s. For when we are young, everything is so important, each heartache monumental; each promise kept was a slice of heaven, and each promise broken was a glimpse into the abyss.
All these decades later, the truth is: we do the best we can with what we have. We try, and we fail, and we try again. Sometimes we have behaved poorly; we have learned, and done better. Sometimes we have succeeded, and learned again, and done even better. And every moment is not the be-all, end-all as it seemed in our youth. With time comes the wisdom and the grace of understanding. Perhaps, after all, it is not unpleasant to have reached this point on the path.
And so, we will once more focus on the chorus, in our eternal optimism:
I'll be there for you, these five words I swear to you.
Over the past several nights, I have had some strange dreams.
In a first, I dreamt that I was preparing ingredients to go into the CrockPot for dinner, but there were too many vegetables and I could not put them all into the pot. They were all such good vegetables, though, that I wanted to find a way to include all of them.
In a second, I dreamt that someone had rearranged the furniture in my work office, and there were too many pieces of furniture -- a desk, a credenza, several round tables, a sideboard, and others -- and I could not figure out how to arrange the furniture to fit properly in the office. The desk and the matching sideboard were a lovely dark wood with intricate carvings, though, that I was working to find a way to ensure they were positioned just the right way, while still having room at a separate round table for people to meet and work together.
Oh, dear. What would Freud say?
It's quite clear that I have MANY things going on right now, and that they are all important, but that I'm having trouble making sure they are all adequately addressed.
For one of my current tasks (an enjoyable one, I must add), I drive 40 miles to and fro, twice a week. On the way home, the sun is just setting; it is a lovely time of day. Just Right for a little music, a pleasant drive, and contemplation of Things.
Sometimes I think about the Things I must do.
Sometimes I think about what I will do when I am done with the Things I must do.
Sometimes I think about what I might do, if I had time to do things other than the Things.
Sometimes I just think about the people in my life, and how grateful I am for them. That is the best time of all.
I got a call from Offspring the Third today. Though I am always pleased to hear from him, there are occasions when the phone rings and I worry: oh, no -- is everything OK? Does he have a computer problem I cannot solve? Peer/friend issues about which I can solely empathize, unable to provide solutions? Course difficulties? Frustration? Loneliness? Standard college-adjustment woes? He's a tender soul, Offspring the Third, and still on occasion benefits from a listening ear and patient assistance with problem-solving. (As do we all, in truth.)
Today, though, when I answered his call, he was quite cheerful. He'd gone to an informational meeting about becoming a counselor at the summer camp program for students about to matriculate as his college, and was quite excited about the idea. He explained the application process, the training for the counselors-to-be, and the expectations of the program, and we agreed that he would enjoy it and should apply. He confidently added that worst-case scenario, if he is not chosen as a counselor, there were still several projects he could do here at home over the summer.
He concluded the conversation by mentioning that he had joined a new group at college: players of his favorite video game, who get together periodically. He said that the college group was much better than the high school group, and that he'd learned that it was fruitless to be bitter about standings in the game, but that he should focus on enjoyment instead. (Quite a watershed conclusion for him.) He was on his way to get his game controller and go to a meeting, and so we said goodbye for the moment.
These may seem like mundane things, too small to be of note; yet for him, they are Tremendously Important. Offspring the Third is a social creature, and he thrives with ample company. I am absolutely delighted for him that he has found two new and divergent groups -- counselors and gamers -- with whom to interact. The more he finds companionship, the better he fares. And I rejoice on his behalf, that he is slowly, but surely, finding his own path through college and the world.
There is absolutely no reason at all why the childrens' sleeping bags should be labeled "Girl's" or "Boy's". Especially solely because of the color. Sweet fanciful Moses, are we not yet past the stereotypical gender-ifying of colors? I am sufficiently annoyed that I may, in fact, write to the company. Not that such a letter would change matters, though. Alas.
Ages ago, I had a John Denver record. (You know, a vinyl record -- that which is now trendy/seeing a resurgence.) I loved that album. I'd forgotten it, though, until today when I heard a track from the album: Matthew. It's a sad song, and a joyous song, too. .Lovely.
Yes, and joy was just the thing that he was raised on Love is just the way to live and die Gold is just a windy Kansas wheat-field And blue is just a Kansas summer sky
there’s a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I’m too tough for him, I say, stay in there, I’m not going to let anybody see you. there’s a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I pour whiskey on him and inhale cigarette smoke and the whores and the bartenders and the grocery clerks never know that he’s in there. there’s a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I’m too tough for him, I say, stay down, do you want to mess me up? you want to screw up the works? you want to blow my book sales in Europe? there’s a bluebird in my heart that wants to get out but I’m too clever, I only let him out at night sometimes when everybody’s asleep. I say, I know that you’re there, so don’t be sad. then I put him back, but he’s singing a little in there, I haven’t quite let him die and we sleep together like that with our secret pact and it’s nice enough to make a man weep, but I don’t weep, do you?
I took a few days break from The Many Things To Do. Cherished Friend visited this corner of the desert, and he and Beloved Husband and I did This and That, perused the sporting goods stores, and took a walk in a small and surprising wetland here in the middle of the desert. It was a relief to put aside all the many projects and to think about other things to which to look forward, such as camping.
It was hard to unwind the busy brain and not fret about what needs to be done and what is imminently forthcoming in the future, even in the presence of my favorite company. The desert was refreshing, though, and for a few minutes this afternoon, I nodded off listening to their conversation as they discussed the intricacies of a project of Beloved Husband's. So soothing, the timbre of their voices.
Though it has not been that many weeks since Cherished Friend's last visit (he was here for Thanksgiving), it seemed as though it has somehow been a long time. And I realized that it is, in fact, temporarily easier on the heart not to think about how much one misses someone else's company when that person is a distance away. To avoid feeling that emotion, though, does change the perception of a visit: it is somehow more nostalgic, and time flies ever more quickly; and the realization of what one has missed is more abundant than ever. Alas.
Perhaps the difficulties of the past few months -- the many medical tasks of November, the intensity of the holidays, the losses of January -- have exhausted my ability to process All The Feelings. There will come a time, though, when I will have made it through all The Many Things To Do, and I will be light as a feather, and have the luxury of allowing emotions to be present and wash over and through me. In time.
One day at a time, one small emotion at a time. I will get through.
A man on a thousand mile walk has to forget his goal and say to himself every morning, 'Today I'm going to cover twenty-five miles and then rest up and sleep.' ― Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace
NinjaHead resides with a muffin-baking woman known herein as Herself. Herself has a Beloved Husband, with whom she shares three nearly-grown Offspring. When she is not writing Things, Herself nurtures a visceral fondness for small furry creatures. The household menagerie, which has varied in size and composition over the years, presently contains solely a minuscule middle aged chihuahua and a lovely red fish named Ruth Betta Finsburg. Someday, there will be more critters, for she loves them tremendously.