This is a really weird and funky picture of my forehead. We have a joke in our family about our large foreheads, which, of course, we always claim are the storefronts of megabrains. If you look closely-well, you don’t even have to look closely, you can see them from several yards away- you will note the presence of multiple lines in my forehead that in this configuration look almost obscene. Trust me, they actually are, because they are the outward manifestations of my inward penchant for worry, anxiety and fear. This picture is a really good representation of how I have felt for just about exactly a year now, and tells you why I have not even been able to settle enough to write a post for a good long while. And by the way, I am definitely better-looking than this picture would suggest.
But worry, anxiety and fear have made me pretty ugly in a lot of ways these past months. I have been depressed. I have withdrawn from my friends, hidden in my house that I almost started to hate because we hadn’t sold it yet, even told myself lies about how I despised where we were living because I wanted to move and be closer to my children and granddaughter. I have believed that this thing that I wanted would never happen and it has made me feel trapped and desperate at times. I have questioned the goodness and love of God towards me on multiple occasions. I have slogged through day after day of these feelings and I have gained weight, stopped exercising, and in general become a slob. Ugh.
Life is always difficult in one way or another. One man’s crisis is another man’s pipe dream. I know so well that my problems will always be First World Problems. And rarified FWPs at that. But my problems are my problems and from inside me they will always loom large and seem insurmountable at times. We have lived through a lot in this past year. I feel older after this year, and more fragile. But really, the fact is that I have merely become more aware of the reality of my situation: I am aging, my sweetheart is aging, life is tenuous and sturdy all at the same time, I am in control of almost nothing, even, it would seem of late, the movement of my hand to my mouth with food in it. We are all going to die. It’s all wonderfully, terrifyingly true.
The upside of this past year is that I feel a lot more loving. In spite of being withdrawn and being a really lousy friend this year (huge apology to all my friends that I have been neglecting-you know who you are) I feel gentler towards the rest of the human race-except those who get in the passing lane and drive five miles below the speed limit- you, I hate. But I do think that there is something about being leveled by life that makes you a lot more tender towards the rest of your fellow humans. We are, after all, every one of us, so inadequate and bitch-slapped by life. And the best we can do is to love each other. Just celebrate the existence of each other. Just find the beauty in each face.
I have been reading a lot about Joni Mitchell lately. She has just released a four-CD compilation of her life’s work and has been getting a lot of press. She was my idol growing up and well into my twenties. Her songs were the soundtrack of my life. She is a masterful musician and artist. She was blond, thin and gorgeous. What’s not to like? But as I read about her and hear her voice in multiple interviews, I have lost my taste for her. She is primarily concerned, and seems to have been for most of her life, in correcting pretty much everyone in the world about who she is and what her “legacy” will be. My overall impression of her is that she has spent her life feeling like she was extraordinary and that her job was to make sure everyone knew that. I see a person who has not been very successful in her relationships and I wonder, in the night, when she is alone with her giant-sized ego, if she feels as awesome as she wants the rest of us to believe she is. It must be very lonely to be her. While I will always admire her writing and her musicianship, I no longer wish I was more like Joni Mitchell. I am sure you are all relieved to hear this. But it really sobers me to look at her life and what she has evolved into after seventy-one years of living for her “art”, which when it comes down to it, means living almost solely on her own terms and for her own gratification. Because of her brilliance, which is undeniable, she feels herself to be a more significant sort of human than the rest, or most of the rest, of us. And she doesn’t even have that big of a forehead! Go figure!
Somehow this is not as much of a digression as it seems. It IS a part of this story. I am so struck by what a long life lived in the pursuit of one’s own very personal goals at the expense of relationship, and love, can look like. And I just really don’t want mine to look like that. I mean, do we even GET to decide what our legacy is? To me, that would seem to be the job of those left behind when we are gone.
But anyway. I guess I did digress. The good news is, our house sold last week and we have a new place to go to that is going to be just great. A very different life is opening up-a townhouse instead of a 160 acre ranch, the suburbs (HA! I swore I would never go back! Wrong again.) instead of the country, close to family instead of far away-the not-quite-down-the-street-but-close-enough-for-jazz grandparents instead of the four hours away grandparents-it is all sounding good. I will write much more about this move and all it entails later. It feels like my life ground to a halt for a year and is now starting up again. But I know that isn’t true. I have been living all this time, and learning things that can only be learned when life is hard and things are not going your way. But that is a story for another day. It is time to go for a walk!