I did not give 2010 a send off. There’s really no way to summarize the year, it was indescribable. No one word can tie it up, no phrase, no length would do it justice. There was an overwhelming, almost global sense of hopelessness that dug in as the economy in my country continued to implode. A small scale morass of betrayals and upsets, arguments and disagreements. There was also immense peace. Moments of real, incomprehensible joy. Moments of utter suffering, moments of clarity. Moments of shame. But what I want to talk about today is moments of realization.
I thought a lot last year. A lot. But instead of thinking about work or math or history or cars, I thought about myself. I thought about what I’m doing, what I need. What I want. Mortality, career, romance, all of the big ones. But that’s all internal. There’s no sounding board to reality on any of that, you just build it into your own little dorodango, a ball of your own mud that you think is perfect.
And then in just two little blips it was shattered. Turns out my mudball was just another mudball. That thought of internal perfection, the building of a logic ladder inside your own head without the challenging ideas of others? It’s lazy. A selfish ownership of reason that denies the essential humanity of others in your relationships. I spent six months mourning my imperfect mudball, trying to figure out how all my focus could have gone wrong. How could all that hard work I put into _believing_ in my righteousness and then be wrong? Because faith without honesty is worthless, and honesty is something that must be both internal and external. You can think you’re being fully honest with yourself all the way until you are forced to think about something you have no context for.
Six months, mourning my broken mudball. Alone. By choice. Hiding behind the hurt, too lazy to work at healing, too cautious to make progress any other way. I hid, from the responsibility of my humanity, behind the things which have damaged me, instead of trying to truly put them behind me. And all it took was two little blips.
These are the lessons that 2011 started me off with. Interaction with other people is both necessary and terrifying. There is no shame in needing others. There is no shame in being hurt but nobody should love you for failing to heal. Pay attention to what is being said but also pay attention to what is not being said. And then, Bridget Pilloud, who is responsible for a startling number of palm-smacking-forehead moments? She set me up for a doozy: Think about others more, think about their problems less. And realize that nobody cares about your bus crash. You should care less about your bus crash too.
I hate it when another one of those old lines comes up, something you’ve heard a thousand times and not ever listened to. And this is what it all comes down to. A song lyric from a cassette tape I played until it was ruined, almost fifteen years ago. A song which gets stuck in my head from time to time even now. Echoing through my personal history, telling me to pay more fucking attention.
I was having this discussion in a taxi heading down-town.
Rearranging my position on this friend of mine who had a little bit of a breakdown.
I said, “Hey, you know, breakdowns come and breakdowns go.
So what are you going to do about it – that’s what _I’d_ like to know.”
– Paul Simon – Gumboots
Pain doesn’t earn you shit, turns out. It’s what you do with it.