I *ahem* resolved to write a 2018 year in review. I wanted to lay out a post outlining all of the lessons I have learned, the trials and tribulations, and the growth I have experienced over the last year. That would have been an interesting blog indeed. This year, while tragic and awful, has worked a change in me that is perhaps the most easily noticeable of my entire life.
I am not ready to write that post. I am not reflecting with a compassionate eye over the past 12 months. I am mourning. I am lamenting. I wish I could say that I am smiling for this time tomorrow where 2018 will pass officially into memory. The truth is that I have little hope for 2019 being any different.
Time is an illusion. The way we mark seconds, hours, days, weeks, months, and years is simply a way for the arrogant human brain to define their own interactions. If it could be said," I ate lunch 4 inches after breakfast and supper 4 inches later," the same purpose would be served. There is no mystic portal that we are passing through. There is no "New Year" or "new beginnings." I hold my same station on the great satellite that is Earth as does most of the rest of humanity.
Yet, I mark places of change in my life. In 2014 I felt as if I had passed into a proverbial Twilight Zone. I made a wrong turn at Albuquerque and sent myself hurtling down a path that not only was not of my own design was wholly alien and unfamiliar to my experience up to that point. Ashley leaving me, bringing Whitneigh to Tennessee, and T.S.'s murder worked a sort of alchemy on me that brought about a sort of hateful, destructive introspection. I mourned. I languished. I began to metaphorically try to find that yawning portal through which I had stumbled imagining that reversing my course might restore sanity, serenity, and happiness to my life.
From the drama above you might be lead to believe that I am implying the last four years and change have been spent in some sort of brooding misery filled fugue. This is not the case. The events of October 26, 2014, were simply the herald of the violations to come. I would foolishly spend much of that time blaming my misfortune on Ashley leaving rather than taking ownership of my own actions and behaviors. In many ways, 2018 has forced upon me a violent splash of reality. I have had many chickens come home to roost. I learned that the life I forged for myself in this new Twilight Zone did not have to be the mirthless grind I made it. Many of my imagined wounds were self-inflicted and even the ones that were validly dealt to me by others were picked so as to become infected by my own hand.
I have always been an incredibly angry person. I grinned broadly in the first Avengers movie and wholeheartedly agreed with Bruce Banner when he said, "That is my secret. I am always angry." I identified with this. I have spent a great amount of my life hiding this anger. I covered it with a quick wit, a smiling face, and a foolish demeanor. My facade was that of the smiling rogue. Few noticed that the smiles never quite reach my eyes and the laughter is a bit forced. I don't think I ever stopped to think why I was so angry.
The truth of the matter is that my anger has always been a mask for my pain. It was easier to be angry at Ashley than to admit that I had fouled up our marriage in the first place by being angry instead of talking about the distance between us. It was easier to be angry about ANYTHING than to deal with any emotion that was not anger. Emotions other than anger: sadness, loneliness, insecurity, or jealousy were just too deep of waters for me to feel comfortable swimming in.
I have learned to feel guilt more openly. I have also learned how to forgive myself and later I learned that I didn't need forgiveness. I can reflect on memory without judging myself. I was that person in that place and time. I made my choices. Regret, guilt, and self-loathing are not productive emotions.
I realized that Whitneigh has lived in the shadow of this sense of not belonging and unnatural living since 2014. While our relationship was never perfect, I did her a great injustice allowing myself to carry on as if I were lost on a deserted island. I have been emotionally vacant even when I was present. All too often I have simply been totally absent. There was never a way for us to work out. I had to accept that I dealt her an impossible hand.
In all this sense of not belonging or not being, I have still found success on many fronts. I have made and lost friends. I have found new loves. I have learned things about myself. I have grown as a person. I have stood in the face of bigger adversity, and stood alone, without breaking or bending. I have kept old goals and made new ones. 2018 has been a year of accepting that this alternate reality I have fallen is to is my home now.
I have written about Weltschmerz before. I didn't realize how much I was inflicting it upon myself. I was constantly searching for a place and a time that had past. Even with Ashley and I reunited, we are not the people we were before. Many things have changed. Some of them are improvements. I don't believe either of us would go back in time and leave things the way they were before. I know I wouldn't. I also wouldn't change the way that mine and Whitneigh's relationship panned out. Neither of us wanted things to work out the way they did, but I wouldn't go back and relive any part of it.
Einstein is often quoted as saying, "Repeating the same action and expecting a different result is the very definition of insanity." Why have I been trying to find my way back to a situation I was in before? Why have I been trying to find my personal "golden age" again? That time has passed. Those situations have changed. My circumstances are entirely different.
The truth is humans are incapable of losing themselves. Wherever you go, there you are. I always know where I am even if I don't know where I am located. My insanity and sense of being lost came from denying my own reality. I was constantly facing backward, but there was no path back.
They say ( the proverbial THEM again) that you cannot know where you are going unless you know where you have been. I call bullshit. Where you have been is behind you. Where you are is much more important. Who cares where you are going? That is what is coming next. Now is a ton more important.
Suddenly I find myself watching the road just in front of my tires. I don't need to look too far down the road. Looking too far ahead causes me to miss potholes and possums that have stumbled into traffic. Let's not forget about vengeful deer. (That bastard headbutted my cute little car) Watching the rear view clearly isn't an option. Motorcycles don't have those. Did you foolishly think I was in a metaphorical car? Nope, I am screaming down the metaphorical mindscape at high triple-digit speeds because the metaphorical sun is always shining and the metaphorical roads are cop free. I lean into every metaphorical curve. I roar down every metaphorical straight away pushing my metaphorical bike toward limits that it doesn't come close to having.
Now that I am here in reality, it is a lot easier to come to terms with negotiating my situation. I am glad that Whitneigh and I are finding new ways to interact and are raising our kid together. There is obviously love there. Neither of us are bad people and we both want the best for Teagan. I am glad that Ashley and I are not estranged and that we are proving the old adage about loving something and letting it go. I am thrilled with the new people in my life. There is a ton of love there. The cast and crew are getting much more interesting than ever before.
This place isn't the same. Most of the faces are new. The old familiar faces are more careworn for the hurt we have all shared in. Still, I would rather be in a new place and enjoy what there is to offer than feel homesick for a place that doesn't exist anymore.
One interesting thing I have given up is the idea of the "pursuit of happiness." I think this may be the most toxic and perverted idea. What exactly does it mean to pursue happiness? I pay a ton of bills but it is rare that taking care of business like that makes me happy. While raising kids has super rewarding moments there is lots of unpleasant, scary, and downright awful moments along the way. I wouldn't call it the pursuit of happiness.
For that matter, what exactly is happy? Is it having lots of money? Is it getting laid multiple times a day every day? Is it not having to work? Is it being without pain?
I don't have a damned clue. Happiness is this ephemeral state. I stumble into it just like I do inspiration. I will be sitting on the couch with Teagan. Trolls is on the TV. She gets up and starts dancing with Whitneigh. *Bam* I am happy.
I am sitting at work and in the middle of talking to one of my people. I realize that we are on the same page. We have the same goals. *ping* There is a fleeting moment of happiness.
I am writing a blog and am trying to explain that happiness isn't something you can chase and that it just happens. Skyrim is paused on the TV to my right. My earbuds are playing Journey. *BOOM* Happiness has achieved full penetration.
I am out eating breakfast at Waffle House with a friend.
I am rolling a bowling ball down a lane and trying not to do too well so that I take happiness away from a competitive friend.
I am standing in a parking lot talking to a different friend.
I am riding through the mountains on my motorcycle with my Dad chasing after me.
I am reading a comic book in the bathroom at work giggling to myself about getting paid to poop and read comics. (gross but satisfying and happy.)
Happy is real, but any one of those moments can be recreated and happiness won't show up to the party. Happy happens. You cannot really chase it or force it to happen.
I think instead I am chasing satisfaction. I can leave every interaction with my people satisfied. It takes practice. It takes me being intentional. It takes knowing yourself. Satisfaction is much more easily attained than happiness. It also is a feeling that is constant. Happiness is more fleeting than the afterglow of an orgasm.
I am satisfied leaving 2018 behind. With it, I am abandoning every year that came before it. There are no grudges for me. I am going to take things a minute at a time and try to throw more punches than I am forced to roll with. Instead of being angry I am going to be scary effective and efficient. I am going to write a lot more and talk a lot less (disclaimer that this cessation of words does not apply to recording a podcast where I plan to be both verbose and loquacious). I am going to finally stop debating and arguing with other people and just make choices for myself leaving behind anyone who doesn't want to keep pace and follow the path I am on.
I am going to leave as much of my sadness and melancholy as possible in 2018. I have to be a bit of a brooding artist and philosopher, but I don't have to be an emo princess. I can feel my emotions wihtout judgement. That doesn't mean I have to be a slave to them.
Most of all I am not going to be lost anymore. I know where I am. I hope the rest of you have as much luck finding yourselves.
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