For all of you who (like me) read the first chapter of a novel and then skip to the back in the book store before deciding to purchase…
I used to think that I would just drop dead if I admitted that after all of my searching, there was really nothing to ‘get.’ But pain and joy can’t exist separately, because how would you feel at all? Without feeling, you are dead. By fighting this, I had chosen a battle that I couldn’t win. By fighting this, I was proving to myself that I didn’t understand the concept of balance at all. If everything was good, how would we know it was good at all?
Society hates people who kill themselves, and so does the Church, and that’s part of why it’s illegal. But it’s bigger than that. People who commit suicide look like cheaters—just trying to jump ahead to the end to have their peace prematurely, while everyone else has to earn it the hard way.
People who attempt suicide don’t understand how to earn things. Peace is earned, not taken. You can’t just get it by killing yourself–that’s cheating. You can only get it by living with the right perspective.
We want these suicide-attempters to try harder and be more patient because we love them—this is how, I guess, others really felt about me. We think these sad people shouldn’t be able to leave the gymnasium without dancing at least a few times and tasting the punch, even if it is a lame high school dance.
We know that life isn’t like hopscotch, where you win just by jumping from one box to the next. You have to understand things. You have to understand yourself. You have to be able to appreciate this world before you can really appreciate the next one.
Sometimes I feel like crying for the best and worst in us. We can be so good and so very bad. I hope that either everyone cries for this, or that I’ll stop. It’s not exactly depressing because it makes me feel like I’m onto something. Something that comes from something that is larger than me, and this larger thing wants me to think about things as they are because it is sad and happy all at the same time. I wish we were stronger and happier, but sometimes we are so capable and blessed by being in the moment, too. I think it’s better to feel things like this all along the way instead of fighting them; it helps me to avoid running up and down my valley like I’m on fire.
True love really is letting go—I mean, true self-love. If I really loved myself, I would learn to keep working on what was ailing me for the rest of my life, and just release what my father did to me as something in the past that could no longer touch me, as much as it could be released anyway. I realized that I had loved living all along, much more than I had loved trying to preserve some idea of what I had been before that terrible night.
Maybe our ability to accept is what separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom, I don’t know. It could also be our ability to forget, too.
I am the only person in the world that really cares about the organization of my mind. I need to figure out how to really care about the way my mind is constructed, instead of distracting myself by decoupaging the chair from my bedroom office. I’ve got maybe one hour left until my twin sister wakes up to turn in “her” novella.
I’m not sure if it’s possible to create anything truly beautiful or meaningful in a world where men like that ballplayer and Charles Manson are free to exist in society long enough to really damage people in horrible ways, or because you can get stuck in rewind for years before realizing it. I am a little disappointed that this is probably the only reality, that there is probably nothing beyond this big muddy ball filled with sufferers. The successful ones forget the fact that they are suffering.
But, I do realize how lucky I am to have been able to write all this down for you, dear readers, because some people are dying of malaria in the Third World waiting for airdrops of medicine to arrive from my United States. I realize that there are people with problems more significant than mine, like the scarcity of clean drinking water, cancer or leprosy…
I should be grateful for my life, and I really am. I can at least believe in that statement now, for the first time since everything went down so many years ago.
But, still—everything is just so random. The passing out of lives is random. If there is a god, he has a sick sense of humor. Why couldn’t the world be different so I wouldn’t have to spend so much energy trying to adjust to the fact that it is the only world there is and it is good enough for some people but for others it’s been trashed?
If I had been given the chance to create a world, I would have done a more thorough job. God wasn’t creative enough because he forgot to prevent suffering. Then, to cover that up, he made people think they could find nirvana. And then his son came along, or so I’ve been told, and decided that there wasn’t even such a thing as nirvana–and if you believed that, you would go to hell.
I am running out of time to make a life. Pretty soon, I could lose my independence because I will be out of back pay and still be trying to get better. Am I incapable of being healthy now that I’ve recovered my memory? Can’t I learn how to do a better job, instead of being paralyzed by my life?
I realize that I may be insignificant and that life may be fleeting. I realize I’ve wasted some of my opportunities by getting so sick. I realize I got stuck back there at seventeen—I understand now why staying a child seemed so enchanting. I am just now starting to see a way out of that black hole.
I have tried to live my life with the goal of at least not hurting others, if I couldn’t really help them. But, of course, I have done my fair share of damaging other people. I have the capacity to be hateful and shallow and immoral.
I know I am probably capable of every bad thing there is. I see now that there is truly nothing stopping me from self-destruction but myself.
When I was younger, you know, before that night, I thought that I was a good person who was meant for something fulfilling. I wrote other people’s words on note cards and taped them to my bookshelf, eager to be like them because I thought I could be. Maybe no one has prevented me from being an artist, maybe I just wasn’t ready until now.
I just want to be healthy for the rest of my life. I just want to be loved for being fallible and imperfect. I am so grateful to have failed at suicide.
I wish someone could see me for who I am really trying to become. Could anyone, even Lilly, really love the person who has written all of this down?
I decided the other day that I only want one thing in life—to enjoy it. This means, I am pretty sure, that I have to give up on the idea that life is only good when it conforms to preconceived ideas about situations, people and events. When the good is no longer just the time before your father raped you so long ago, but really is in the present and the future.
I decided this at an intersection by my apartment that I have to go through almost every day. It’s 6th and Lamar, and has all of these really highbrow salons and gift shops around it that I can’t even afford to think about going into.
Well, at this intersection there are also always homeless people on all sides. But, if you’re coming up 6th headed toward downtown and in the left hand turn lane, there are special homeless people who sell a newspaper they make themselves with corporate donations called “The Homeless Advocate.” They take the proceeds and help other homeless people get medical care, food and clothing.
I once asked if I could write for that paper, but they turned me down because I wasn’t homeless.
The most unusual homeless person here is a guy who is missing teeth, sunburned, with ragged clothes—but, he is always smiling. No matter what, day after day, he is always smiling. And it’s not because he’s a nutjob— it’s because he chooses to smile, he told me last spring.
One recent day, the day I decided to try and enjoy life regardless of anything after talking with him once again at the red light, he had said to me, “You know, I’m so glad you always smile back at me. No one in their cars ever smiles at me.
“I stand here all day, and sometimes I even try and do funny things, but people still just grit their teeth and clench their jaws and never smile at me.”
This was after I had explained that I couldn’t buy their paper because I was unemployed, and he had said something like he knew things would turn around for me, and that I shouldn’t worry too much about it. Something about things having a way of working themselves out, or something like that.
He went on to say, “You know, it makes me sad to see well-fed people in expensive cars who have forgotten how to smile. If I can smile, how come they can’t?”
I’m glad that traffic light is so long, and I’m glad I was there, and I’m glad we talked and I had the opportunity to listen to such a wise, happy spirit.
It was a turning point for me, a chance to see that I was in control of my own happiness, and then I knew suddenly that maybe I was ready to do something about this.
I realized, on that afternoon, that I was finally ready to save myself. I was a free-thinking, creative, crazy girl who found out I also wanted to come to my senses, too. At least mostly, anyway.
When I really thought about it, I realized I knew a lot about letting go of my past the “right” way, and that I was ready to complete the job. At least as much as it could be completed, anyway.
It had taken my heart a long time to catch up to my brain, and vice versa. But, now they were at last in sync, maybe for the first time—and I wasn’t gonna waste my chance to be happy for the first time in my adult life. That wouldn’t make me a very good protagonist now, would it?
Abnegation eventually leads to acceptance of the realities of your life, which leads to growth. I didn’t realize I had been doing this all along, so I inadvertently made the abnegation part longer and more painful than it needed to be. Letting this process work each time makes it go faster. The steps had been passing faster, less disastrously. I was getting to do more of the meaningful part, the growth part.
Understanding this about myself, I mean about being alive and living life, seemed like something I already knew once I wrote it down. I had lived that way, really, and so had everybody else I knew, too, when I really thought about it. We had been doing this all along.
The difference was that before it had seemed sad, cruel, even pointless, to me because I so wanted a better answer, a better explanation for what had ailed me. A better solution.
Now, it seemed, however, that what happened to me that night in high school during my parents’ divorce was just the only answer there was. But, that this answer could also bring me solace and contentment. Peace. If I could simply keep letting the memories go, every time they came back to me.
This really was the best solution—the happiest, kindest, most meaningful one—if I chose it to be.
People say we all come full circle, but I don’t think we ever really do. Time is really the biggest thing there is, and it has us for good or ill. I know that I’ve spent so much time fighting against myself, fighting for an image of myself that wasn’t really me anymore, when I really should have been fighting for the things I loved. It’s why I decided to try and learn to trust myself and life, however much I was afraid of doing those things.
It’s like this old hippie said to me on the Guadalupe River, when Chloe and I took some friends down there to celebrate the fact that she had graduated and was moving away to New York to be a professional artist…
My inner tube was too big for me, and it was hard for me to paddle in it. But, I was paddling frantically to avoid colliding with a tree that was growing in the middle of that river.
“Don’t fight the current. You won’t hit that tree,” this strange, wise woman called down to me from the side of the riverbank.
She smiled. She was calm. She brushed her long gray hair out of her face with her hand, nodding to me confidently.
Of course, she already knew that the water would flow around the tree and so would I. That I’d be safe, even though it didn’t seem that way a second before it happened.
Now I know, too.