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Posts Tagged ‘anne lamott’

Hope is the only universal liar who never loses his reputation for veracity. ~ Robert G. Ingersoll

livingontheedgeI am not a control freak. I easily delegate, happily let others get on with whatever their thang happens to be, accept the changing tides and times. Heck, I’m even happy enough grasping the idea that comfort zones need a slap upside the head from time-to-time and change can be a good thing.

I’ve lived long enough to get that bumps in the road make sense when looking back on the journey, that time heals wounds (or vice versa), that good things come to those who wait, and all those other aphorisms routinely trotted out when life is crappy.

 

But …

When the list of things I have absolutely zero control, influence, even minor sway over is thirty times more impressive than the couple of bulls whose horns I can manage to take … well …

I try to grow hope.

Hope: aspiration, desire, wish, expectation, ambition, aim, goal, plan, design; optimism, expectation, expectancy; confidence, conviction, assurance; promise, possibility. Yeah, there more versions of hope than there are shards of broken glass on a beach, and although forming an aspiration or two is easy enough, expectations that plans or designs will provide assurance, or even possibility, rather lack conviction. As Robert Burns so well put it, albeit most likely with a touch of whiskey and haggis on his breath … which may account for all Scots talking funny …

The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Having found my bootstraps on many occasions and tugging fiercely, often for years, I am well practiced. My kids’ lives are sorted safely, securely and happily, so I can put down the lead umbrella I’ve been holding since the age of seventeen. I can take care of myself. I don’t need saving or completing and I’m okay with seeing to my own daily needs.

Ain’t life grand?

Compared to some, mine is pretty great — roof overhead, wine in the fridge — and I’m not knocking what I have, what I have worked for, or the plans I’ve made that actually almost worked out. Neither am I regretting … anything.

I am, however, doubting an adage I once trusted; that things happen for reasons and in their own time.

Another relationship ending disappointingly, thousands of miles between me and my kids, a tenacious tether to property, advancing age that has done jack shit to lower my desires or expectations … all beyond any jurisdiction I find in my realm.

Hope is the feeling we have that the feeling we have is not permanent.                              ~ Mignon McLaughlin

I know I don’t have many years left, more behind me than ahead, and very much want to live fully, but am feeling restraints it seems I have no power to loosen. Doing what I can … involving myself in endeavors I find worthy, learning stuff I’ve not paused to cozy up to in the past, conversing with those I like, admire or disagree with … fills time and brings some relief, but I’m frustrated as I feel days and weeks and months and years flash past … and don’t mind.

Some would call it ‘being at loose ends’, but it feels more like the tank is running low, and although I’d like a refill there doesn’t seem to be fuel around and I don’t know where to even look anymore.

The free-floating anxiety I’ve experienced in the past is returning and I find myself again constantly checking the sky for shit asteroids, even though I know damned well you never see them coming.

I have been, however, gently nurturing a few seeds of hope. I’ll see my small kids in a couple of months — always a bright light that warms. I’ll continue to try to sell my place to free myself up for more travel, more adventures. I’ll finish that fuckin’ book I’ve been working on. I’ll continue to lend my voice to those who think it will help.

I’m not 80 … part of the hill is still before me … and a quarter tank just might get me further than I think.

Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. ~ Anne Lamott

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Years come and go and like with many that have rolled around lately this year I can’t tell which I dislike the most: the coming or the going.

New Year’s Eve is a turning point and I can almost not remember the last time I didn’t spend a portion of the event not engaging in an internal debate over what was more depressing — the year I just went through or the one I’m facing. (I know that’s a lot of negatives, but ’tis the season … )

Since none of my children died in 2011, it certainly wasn’t the worst I’ve seen, but there wasn’t much else to rejoice over. For the most part it’s been a 365-day slog with far-too-regular, far-too-often-futile attempts at dodging incoming shit asteroids.

Yep. So much like last year that I could just repost the blog I wrote as 2010 closed out, but I’m just that much older and that much more jaded, so less inclined to end on the up-note I managed then.

One more year of the disappointment parade has me beat to a pulp. Having managed to whip up anticipation of breakthroughs and opportunities to grab a brass ring or two, in retrospect I have to wonder how any glimmer of optimism ever managed to reflect off dreary, dull surfaces in the first place. How flickers of hope appeared in such soggy, dismal ground is a mystery.

I know. I know. New beginnings … anything’s possible … if I set my mind to it … blah, blah, blah … or as Anne Lamott put it: Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.

Experience, however, has me turn more toward Nietzshe when it comes to hope:

In reality, hope is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs man’s torments.
~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Since my dawns are usually accompanied by anxiety, dread and a case of the shakes that lets me know I am, indeed, awake, if I were to hold some hope somewhere I would like it to take more the shape of a good night’s sleep, and prolonging torments sounds less constructive than admitting defeat.

I’m tired, you see: tired of working my ass off for zero return; tired of trying to mold a world around me that refuses to go anything but pear-shaped; tired of convincing myself a better day is in the making only to take another load of shit to the head; tired of pretending there’s anything within my control to change for the positive. Tired to the point of no longer being able to work up a head of steam or care enough about anything to form an opinion worth writing about.

Plans turn to dust at my feet, so I now just duck and cover as best I can while working on a “don’t give a shit” stance that might at least allow me to keep standing between hits. It’s not a case of damned-if-you-do/damned-if-you-don’t because there’s little I have options to either do or don’t do.

One thing I can and do do is try to find the lessons in this life and own up to my role in my demise. No doubt about it, I’ve made some crappy choices, been too harsh, too opinionated, too defensive. I’ve neglected relationships that should have been cultivated and cultivated some that didn’t deserve the efforts. I have a sharp tongue that defensively masks a damaged heart and forces distance that would be better bridged. I harbor resentments and forget nothing, so carry toxins and use them as excuses. Although generous with joy, I am selfish with misery, a trait that is a setup for loneliness. I am intolerant, short-fused and overly-impressed with my propensity to be right.

Dwelling on my faults, as active a venture as that is, does little to give hope, however, as I don’t see the basic me changing much in the time I have left. I do my best to practice kindness, to contribute in positive ways, to keep my fucking mouth shut, but am nonetheless still subject to the knee-jerk reflexes of a lifetime.

Of course, it’s not all bad. Sam and Cj keep me going, giving good reason to get up, get moving and put on a happy face. They keep me laughing on the outside as I agonize over how to keep them motivated, happy and secure, pay their school fees, provide for their futures and answer all the questions I have answers to as Mark disappears into his new life and adds to their long list of losses. They are what make regrets impossible and my constant reminder that things do happen for a reason.

Looking backward down my path, it does all make sense, one-thing-leading-to-another-to-another-to-here, and there’s not one thing I would change as I’d fear altering the present reality. But that doesn’t mean this reality is any less sucky on a day-to-day, year-by-year basis or that I’m any less tired or scared or worried.

Any more questions on why I haven’t been writing here much? Whiny poor-me-life-sucks posts bore the shit out of me, especially when they’re written by me, and since I have little else to say I’m shutting up as I’m shutting down.

If I had hope left, I’d pump it up about now, grab at my disintegrated bootstraps and yank. As it is, however, I’ll keep an eye out for a set of jangling keys to divert me from my funk and call that ringing in the New Year.

As for hope, this is about the best I can do …

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
~T.S. Eliot

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