You would think after 53 years I’d have learned how to do it right by now. I read these letters, most from heartbroken souls like me and wonder if any of us can ever get it right. I remember being young, the world was my oyster and though there were a few girls that really meant something it was all one big party and we all just floated in and out of each other’s lives.
But as the years advanced and maturity grew, each one became a little harder to get started, a little harder to keep moving. Was it me? Well, at least 50%, yes. But remember that the other person has had his/her experiences too and it’s no easier for them. Sometimes the scars we carry were put there intentionally by someone else, for whatever reason. Usually, though, they are the result of thoughtless deeds, unkind words or actions said without malicious intent. While the ones put there with intentional cruelty are the worst to bear that only gives witness to our own humanity and knowing that kind of pain should spur us to not do that to someone else. We live and we learn and sometimes the tuition is more than we bargained for.
Then one day I wake up and what I thought was real, what I thought was the last merry-go-round I’d ride, had disappeared right out from under me. My fault? Her fault? Yes on both counts. She did that wrong? Well, I did the other wrong. Neither of us meant actual harm it just came down to major differences that had existed between us becoming too wide a gulf to step across. I was willing to bridge the gap – she wasn’t. There have been other times when I was the one not willing to bridge the gap. There are no guilty, really, nor are there innocent. There’s just all us souls swimming in a fish bowl of conflicting intent, each of us hoping to find an intent that more or less matches ours to a close enough degree.
We marvel at those who have been together a long time. “What commitment” we say, “how sweet and caring.” Yet I look at my parents who were together 46 years until Dad died. Committed? Sweet? Caring? Hardly. They stayed together for the kids at first, then out of habit. Those of us who smoke too much, drink too much, do “other things” too much understand that habits tend to be self-destructive. When one person, sometimes both, realize that things change. And we fear change, we want normalcy and a routine we can count on.
When that happens we long to pour out our feelings to someone, anyone, who will listen. Friends and family do their best to be supportive but, really, it gets tedious for all concerned after a while. Finally there comes a day when the dam must burst or overflow. We have LINS, of course, but the satisfaction is somewhat empty. I saw a saying the other day, “I wish I could write your name on a rock and throw it at your face so you could see how much I miss you.” That feeling is the one that leads to angry text messages, reproachful e-mails, scowls in chance encounters.
I did one of those last night. The second I hit send, even though I had stopped and re-read it several times, I regretted it. But I was able to go to sleep last night without self-medicating. And, really, all I said was the truth which, though often hurtful, is never out of place. It’s not necessarily helpful, but it’s never out of place. Is the bridge burned? Was it already burned? Is it repairable? We’ll never know unless our paths lead us back to that bridge. Until then, we walk the path as best we can.
And so we go through our days, smiling at people and doing our thing all the while dragging our hearts behind us on a string hoping no one notices, hoping that “Sorrow” is not tattooed on our foreheads, looking at each new face with a certain hopefulness that… maybe… just maybe… if I smile right, or say the right witty thing…
And so it begins again. And although I like to think that we learn from each encounter, both good and bad, that learned lesson only applies, in large part, to the one who is no longer there to benefit from it. Only in general terms can it help the next go-round on the carnival ride. Each one is different in measurable degrees though the more carnivals one visits the more there is a sameness to the routine. We learn we want honesty (because he/she lied and it hurt), loyalty (because he/she cheated and it hurt) and commitment (because I was committed, and he/she wasn’t). Look at the descriptions in the dating sites – it seems the older the person the more prevalent those words.
And carnival ride it is, isn’t it? You first get there, everything is lit up and happy. The hawkers are adding to the excitement, the midway rides and games beckon, the clowns dance for our enjoyment and all seems wonderful. Then the time comes to go home, the lights go out, the performers disappear and all is dark and quiet. Will tomorrow bring the carnival again, or will it have stolen away in the night? And will the next carnival be better?
So let us pick ourselves up from the mud of despair, my friends and foes, and wipe ourselves off to wait with growing anticipation the next carnival. For while it may not be the best, it’s better than sitting at home and staring at four walls. Ride the Ferris wheel and see beyond the horizon! Take a stroll through the Hall of Mirrors and marvel at the distorted images of reality (the delusion we call happiness). Marvel at the sword swallower and the lion-tamer, enjoy it all and look for more beyond the last tent. Enjoy it while you can.
It’s the way it goes, it’s the way of the world. It is the hope of tomorrow’s memories that make us work on today.
A toast to all my heartbroken virtual friends, wherever you are and whatever stage you are in. Chin up. As hard as it is, chin up and drink the wine and laugh for tomorrow there may be another carnival to enjoy…
Written especially for my CB. However harsh we have been with each other let us try to embrace the better parts and be thankful we had those.
also known as the knight in rusty, dented armor riding slowly away