Sunday, February 20, 2011

Relative Experiences

6 AM and the downstairs cats are meowing away, wanting to be fed. I snap on the side porch light, but then quickly snap it off again. I will not compete with the full moon.

The wind has been howling all night. At times it seems like an airplane is about to land on my house. I wonder how many of my garbage cans, recycling bins, and other items not tied down will still be in my yard when I go out this morning.

I glance over at the cemetery. In the last couple of years I've seen light coming from there, and it was puzzling because I could not see the source. Then I realized that they put up a huge crucifix on one side of the cemetery, and have it lit by floodlights. Jesus dares to compete with Selene and Eos.

I butter an English muffin and make some tea, and find myself wondering how much is "enough." I am referring to that thing we call "experience." You may say that there is never enough, that we have to keep living, keep moving--to stop experiencing is to stop living. But I'm not thinking of the rest of my life; I'm thinking of my life so far.

I will be 40 years old next year, and I think I have lived a rather unusual life. I did not take the expected steps of settling down with a family and driving the kids around to dance lessons and soccer practice in the dependable minivan. I tried the marriage thing, and it was a catastrophe--the best thing I can say about it is that I gained a LOT of life experience about what love should not be--more than I want, actually. I've traveled all over, I've associated with all kinds of people from nuns and Jehovah's Witnesses to hardcore Satanists, from poor and recovering drug addicts to celebrities, I've pursued careers that interested me rather than doing something "for the money", I've bought my own house and learned how to do plumbing and all other sorts of repairs, I've read countless books and received two postgraduate degrees, I know 3 languages, I took martial arts for 4 years, I've written notebooks full of stories, vignettes, and poems (some of them published), I've been blessed with experiences of inner stillness that many people never have in their lifetime, I am fully equipped to manage crises, I've handled my own court cases without a lawyer, I do not rely on my parents to take care of my financial needs. Yet, somehow--I am still not considered to be an "adult", and I am seen to be "lacking in life experience" by certain people.

Don't get me wrong--I haven't done it all, I don't know it all, and I'm not suggesting that I do. There are many people with a lot more experience than me, and also different experiences that I'll never have. But I think I've done "enough" to establish at least a moderate sense of credibility. I'm a terrible liar, so I can't bullshit you about things I know nothing about. In fact--I'm pretty sure that a lot of people--more than you think--get by on bullshit rather than experience. I'd like to believe that I have some degree of authenticity. I will give you my honest opinion if you ask. The trouble is that people ask and don't really want to know.

I suppose there's nothing to be done about it. It's one of those paradoxes of communication that the more you say the less you are heard, and the more you are considered the problem than the person trying to open up real communication about the problem. People want to talk at you, but don't want to hear anything in response. I don't mind people who vent, but if I have to listen to enough of the same monologue, I usually recommend a therapist or a brick wall. Both will listen without comment, and you can bang your head against the latter in frustration if you want. I assume that there is a breaking point--if you haven't resolved your issue and you can't stop talking about it, and aren't interested in taking any action to fix it, then I really can't help you. And no, I don't want to listen over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over every time I see you. I don't want to be able to recite your rant back to you like a favorite Monty Python sketch.

The age aspect of this is definitely weird. I'm somehow perpetually a child, yet I'm already periomenopausal. If this should surprise you, I should note that my mother hit menopause at 43, and we've followed similar patterns with such things in our lives. Well, almost similar. My mother always had a mild monthly experience, and then one day everything just stopped. She also bore 4 children. Whereas my uterus is something of a Celtic warrior; it has stoutly resisted any attempts at fertilization, has to be sedated with hormones to keep me from become murderous once a month, and will no doubt go out kicking and screaming. Just like the rest of me.

In order to clear my head of such thoughts, I ventured outside, and found that the lid to my garbage can was two houses down, even though it's supposedly a "locking" lid. So much for that. I also discovered that it's bone-chilling cold out there. And still windy. Interesting how the sun makes the weather look deceptively nice. Now that the snow has melted, I realize that I am living in the wastelands of a great tree war. There are huge tree branches everywhere--in the driveway, in the yard, in the road, on my patio. Huge limbs that haven't only fallen, they look shattered, like they were hit by a grenade. I note the greenness of the grass. I guess underneath it all, no one got the memo it was winter. Perhaps the tree war was a distraction.

Getting into my car, I look at the thermometer, and I realize that "bone-chilling" is 28 degrees Fahrenheit. How quickly we get spoiled by spots of warm weather. A month ago I would have been begging for 28 degrees.

It's all relative I suppose. Like age and experience.

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