As much as I hate to admit it – I’m not living my life with both feet in. It’s a difficult thing to explain but I’ll try my best. The phenomena of living a full-time temporary life can be summed up as this:
I live my life inadvertantly as if everyone I meet and everything I do is only temporary, and as a consequence I find myself not investing my conscious self, fully into moments and relationships that are indeed (or could be) a full-time part of my life.
I can talk the talk about being present, being conscious, being mindful…and I am for the most part on a moment-to-moment basis, but over the longer full-length picture of my life I’m not fully engaged.
We can be friends for the last four years and be at a cocktail party and I can be mindful, present, feel your excitement, feel your pain, feel your joy and laughter, and simultaneously fully understand how everyone in the room is feeling. I’ve got an incredible sense for reading emotions of individuals and groups. I can mirror those emotions and connect in the moment with ease.
The moment is registered in great detail within my mind, but is as fleeting as a mirage of an oasis in the desert.
One might think from a Buddhist standpoint that the realization that everything is temporary is good, and that I’ve somehow achieved that, and that somehow I’m on my way to enlightenment…but I call bullshit.
Yes, everything is temporary – I’m very cognizant of that. But putting all the theological and philosophical mumbo jumbo aside…I simply feel like I’m a passenger in life, with life swirling all around me and I choose to jump in and out when I see fit. This jumping in and out of life is of course not mindfully done – and that is where I find fault in myself.
Looking back at my life I can see this jumping in and out of life best when framed within the confines of relationships. Relationships whether romantic or platonic in nature seem like chapters in my life – my life is a book and when the chapter is over I simply turn the page, move on to another chapter with another set of characters and never look back. Ever.
This problem of jumping into new chapters and never looking back presents a huge fragmentation in my life story. Can you imagine reading what you thought was a mystery novel in the first chapter, only to find the second chapter a romance novel, and the third chapter a documentary about the indigenous tribes of the central amazon?
It’s hard for me to maintain relationships with dear friends after moving on to new chapters of my life. I wish I were better at it. I might come off as an asshole or aloof to people who have known me and loved me, only to see me drop out of their life completely. If that’s been the case I’d love to apologize, as it certainly has nothing to do with you, or how much I valued our relationship at the time.
I simply lack the skills to make room in my life during different chapters for every character. I simply lack the courage to introduce new characters in my life to prior older characters, and I simply am afraid of anyone knowing my disjointed story of a life too well. Why? I don’t know.
Maybe just maybe I’ve learned from an early age – due to family circumstances – to not invest myself fully in the chapter of now, as I know it won’t be forever. Maybe, it’s easier for me to put one foot in because I’m afraid to throw myself fully in. Maybe it’s a defense mechanism I’ve adapted from childhood, or maybe I’m just fucked up.
The only thing I know for certain, is that when a chapter changes in my life I’m on unchartered waters and move full-steam ahead with a story of my making. I do command my ship. When I get the feeling of being marooned I then make course changes for elsewhere and I fully embark on a completely new chapter, with new characters, and new sets of rules. Rules that I dictate.
I wish that my full-time life was a beautiful flowing novel that made sense, had at least some continuity of characters – but it doesn’t. I’ve tried my best to mend the past and make patchwork out of my life…but it’s one fucked up quilt.
I’ve never really talked to anyone about this – maybe everyone feels this way? But, I don’t believe this sort of disjointed life story is anywhere near the norm. There are far too many people that still have 4th of July parties with macaroni salad and friends they’ve had for thirty years for this to be the case.
I’d love to have a party with all my friends that I’ve made across the span of my life. I hold relationships in the highest regard and believe them to be the most important thing in life.
Maybe I’m just afraid to read the full story of my life unedited by myself. It’s easy to edit your disjointed life by changing the chapters and wiping the slate clean, and it’s easier to not put work in to maintain friendships. It’s hard to put the work in and keep everything together. It’s hard to look at your life through the viewpoint of others – especially when characters from different chapters of your life can put the pages together and see the real you.
The real me? I’m sure there are common threads, some quirky things I do, some humorous tendencies, and probably some self-centered egotistical propensities amongst the chapters that would be interesting to hear from another’s perspective.
I just wouldn’t know.