One of my best friends once said to me, “When I was in my twenties, I was afraid to live. Now that I’m in my thirties, I’m afraid to die.”
I didn’t used to think before I lived. I just lived. I acted, reacted, followed, rebelled without really thinking about why. Sometimes this worked for me, but sometimes I didn’t like the consequences. Sometimes I looked back and felt regret, guilt, or shame. The thoughtless actions were just that – thoughtless – and often the things that I did weren’t fully done by my own free will.
I’m going through a pretty rotten drawn-out moment right now, and there have been many of these moments over the past two years. I’m not talking about a temporary case of the blues or an emotional reaction to a negative event. No, I’m talking about the well of hope drying up to the smallest little puddle so that you really have nothing to keep you going.
It is both reassuring and tragic to know that things end. Reassuring for the painful moments. Tragic for the good moments. We never know when it will happen. We will never be prepared, no matter how much we plan and dream or how hard we worry. We cannot predict how much joy or pain the end will bring. And the end is not the end, it just another beginning – it is the passing from one moment into another. It is the merging of two moments until the first disappears and the second takes over. But there is definitely a point, although barely noticed, when the suffering or joy ends.
Every day they pour in, in bursts and in trickles, constant then sporadic, always keeping me on the look out, never giving me a moment’s respite.
Saturday and Sunday mornings, before my brain kicks in, I lie in bed in a state of complete relaxation. I can sense the daylight behind the curtains through my closed eyelids. I can hear the birds and gentle roar of distant traffic – a train, a plane, a car, a pedestrian pulling a trolley… Spread like a starfish across the bed with two arms hugging a pillow, I am cushioned by a cloud just warm enough to keep me cosy, just warm enough to allow me to appreciate the fresh cool sheets just five inches from where my body lies should I reach out and touch them. I could languish here forever.
If you’re right, you’re right. There’s no arguing with that. And if you’re wrong, you have to admit it, acknowledge it, acquiesce to the more knowledgeable person whose intelligence you’ve slighted with your misinformation… Yet so many of us cannot handle being wrong. We won’t admit it. We will barely even admit it to ourselves. We will steer the conversation away or drop it completely when we realize that we are wrong. Or worse, we’ll argue that we were never saying the wrong thing – that we were misheard, misinterpreted, words were put in our mouths, and so on and so forth.