As someone who tends to see the sunny side of life, sometimes it’s hard for me to admit when the workings of the universe confuse and frustrate me to the point of getting the blues. The thing is, I’ve had a great, wonderful life, filled with more love and good fortune than any lowly human being deserves. That said, it’s been a rough year for me, which is part of the reason this blog has been on hiatus. Real life sometimes compels us to ignore the thing that might help us the most. Go figure.
I am reluctant to list here the reasons why the last twelve months have pretty much completely kicked my ass because a big part of me doesn’t see the point in complaining. Life gives you what it gives you, and you have no choice but to figure out a way to cope with it, survive, and carry on. Still, I feel like I want to address this bad turn of luck that I’ve been having, partly because I want to learn to embrace the dualities that come along with being human.
When I blog here, or post something on facebook, I tend to emphasize the positive things that are going on in my life while kind of brushing aside any discussion of life’s challenges. I do this for a variety of reasons - I see no point in complaining, I don’t like to whine or be negative, I want to be careful with what I share publicly, etc. The problem is, by only presenting the sunnier side of my life, I feel as if I might have created a lie of omission. I wonder if my fellow humans might think nothing bad ever happens to me, or that I don’t have periods of time where my life really goes off the rails.
Which is just silly. We all have periods of time when life goes off the rails, and when we don’t address that fact, we do a disservice to ourselves and each other. We are all imperfect, every one of us, and every one of us faces life’s challenges the best we can. We skip through the flowers when it’s sunny and wade through the horseshit when it rains. Sometimes it’s pretty, and sometimes it’s ugly, but whichever way it happens to be, BOTH parts are part of being human, BOTH parts have value, and NEITHER part should be ignored.
So here I reveal to you my most imperfect of years:
In the last twelve months, my decades-long marriage fell apart, and I find myself at middle-age having to learn how to be single and on my own for the first time in my life. Because my ex and I got together when we were teenagers, things that most people learn about being single when they are in their twenties, I am clueless about in my forties. For example, I have never had my own car, my own apartment, a credit card in my name only, or my own bank account. Also, until this year, I have never spent the holidays or my birthday on my own. THAT was an eye-opener.
Also eye-opening is the learning curve I find myself on when it comes to navigating relationships with men. On a related topic, I’ve had to learn to cope with having my heart broken. A couple times.
However, while the past year has been challenging as a whole, the past couple of months have hit me particularly hard, mostly due to two deaths. First, one of my dear old friends from a very happy time in my life died of cancer. Then, a couple months later, one of my dear new friends - from an equally-happy time in my life - died in a random car accident.
Finally, two weeks ago, I got laid off from my job.
Oh, and as a final little dig, on the same day I got canned, I got the “It’s not you; it’s me” message from the guy I kinda liked.
NOTE: I don’t know who is writing the song of my life right now, but I’d like to interrupt this blog post in order to give the lyricist a critique: Don’t you think you should quit relying on stereotypical events lifted from tired old blues songs and cheesy country-western numbers? Seriously, it’s a good thing I don’t have a horse right now, because if I did, it would surely have died.
In case you haven’t guessed, as I write this, I am laughing. I don’t know why. Maybe my emotions have been so badly battered that my wires are all crossed up and they’re missing appropriate cues. But I think it’s all kind of funny in a horrible, absurd way. Plus, as I read these lines over, I’m reminded of the fact that all of these events, stressful as they may be, come with benefits. Yes, I’ve been incredibly stressed out about money and love and the seemingly random machinations of the universe - but I am also writing more, drawing more, painting more…
I’m learning a first-hand lesson on how emotional chaos contributes to art - a lesson that allows me to mold mayhem into beauty, and find the beauty in the mayhem I cannot mold. I’m being reminded that our time here as humans is not limitless, and if you have the opportunity to be the owner of your own time, that you should do something valuable with it. I want to work just as hard for myself as I did for my paycheck because with any luck, I’ll be having to work for a paycheck again sometime soon. Fingers crossed. Until then, art. And that’s nothing to cry about. Until it is. Then cry all you want.