Cards on table.
Most of the time all is well, yes. Well, as well as it can be given the totality of circumstances of my life. But—but…
There are still times when life is so painful that it takes my breath swiftly away. I’d say about five percent of the time. So, a couple times every day, for twenty minutes or half an hour at a pop.
Then, pull self together. Get back on with it. Things get back to normal. And so on.
But yes, it can be hard. Very hard. Very, very hard.
— § —
What’s the pain about?
Everything. All the people that I’ve had the fortune and misfortune to love. All of the dreams that were once ahead of me and that are now in the realm of “Once, I wanted to…” Watching my children grow up in two broken homes. Knowing what lies ahead for me in the future.
Tennyson said “better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” People often misconstrue this as being about love. I suppose at one level it could be, but of course it’s really about life. Better to have lived and lost/failed than never to have lived at all.
I don’t want to say that Tennyson was wrong, exactly.
But maybe that like all truisms, this one is just a bit too pat, and it elides a great deal.
— § —
Would I rather have never loved many of the people I’ve loved? Yes, actually, I’d rather never have loved most of them. And that’s not about the pain of the breakups. It’s about all of the things that led to them.
Would I rather have never, say, gone to college? Written books? Yes, actually, I’d rather have simply chosen a trade, joined a crew, and worked from the start with a bunch of regular guys.
Do I feel like my entire life has been a waste? No, certainly not. Not all of it. But I’d be lying if I said there weren’t significant chunks of it that were. And that’s not a good thing when you’re dealing with a precious substance like life.
You see, once enough things go wrong, there’s a certain genie that escapes that can never be put back into the bottle.
After enough of a certain kind of failure—the kind that amounts to a failure of good faith, a failure of promise, a failure of integrity—and make no mistake these can happen in many ways that have nothing to do with love—you stop seeing people, or yourself, or the world, in the same way ever again.
A certain level of disillusionment cynicism is good; it does no one any favors for lots of people to go about the world as naive as a warm spring morning.
But it is dangerous to have too many people understand just how bad things are, and just how faithless are the people, the world, and as a result by the conservation of momentum if nothing else, the self as well.
That’s how we get into the downward spiral we’re in as a civilization and as a species.
The one that people often say takes their breath away.
— § —
My biggest regret: listening to the wrong elders, and listening to the wrong self so very many times over the years. Making the awful idiot beginner’s mistake of conflating the recent and the wise, otherwise known as “believing in progress.”
If there’s a deep, dark heart to this post, it’s this thought:
There is no such thing as “progress.” There never has been. Run—as fast as you can—from anyone that encourages it or promises to deliver it, because what they are offering you is actually and merely torture of the most banal and terrible kind.
The things that you won’t regret are those that connect you to time immemorial or that support such a connection. Anything that delivers the “new” to you? New experience? New love? New success? New sensations? Forget it. It’s a trick—an evil trick.