Wednesday, June 09, 2004
I got it licked, except for the boards. The Rose & Thorn Summer 2004 issue is now online and I think I've outdone myself with the staff issue, but you'll have to pay $3.00 to see that. I wish I could see the staff issue in print, but I have to conserve my ink. I'm on my last cartridge and I can't afford to buy any more until next month. Funds are tight right now until I can (finally) get some writing done and generate some income that I might see in six months or so (probably a year).
I have let the house go to pieces while my butt has been welded to the seat of this chair focused on two computer screens that scroll out endless lines of code with the occasional word or URL I actually recognize. My feet and legs are swollen from so much sitting, but I'm getting out of here shortly. I have a few things to write, like reviews and some messages, not to mention a story or two, but for the most part I am going to spend this day outside looking up at the lakes floating overhead, ominous with another deluge. It rained yesterday and everything is fresh and bright...including me. I might just make it thru this little sink hole of hassles.
I forgot to bring in the feeder until 10 last night, but bringing it in the previous three nights may have discouraged the persistent thieving raccoon who has decided my place is the best place for sweets. I'm still bringing it in. He may try his luck again, although not tonight. Tomorrow is trash day for some of the local residents and he'll be busy trying to get into the juicy yuppie offerings.
I am sad for a friend, too. I read her journal this morning, wondering where she has been the past two days, with the intent of scolding her for cheating on me at Scrabble. She has been in the depths, blaming herself and her job for her husband's death. I'm not a fatalist, but I know one thing for sure, there is a predetermined time for our deaths and no matter what we would have done differently, our friends, enemies, and loved ones will still die when it is their time. Not being home to prevent his actions would not have mattered. He would have died some other way...or even the same way. You don't know. It's like having a child. You can't watch them every single moment of every single day and eventually they are going to get hurt, get sick, and even die and nothing you do will change that.
T, my best friend and my sister, went to the babysitter's to pick up her first son, picked him up from the crib, and he was silent and cold. He was dead. She still remembers putting her lips on his cold, blue lips and trying to give him CPR. The cold hard touch of his tiny lips against hers haunts her even now over 18 years later. If she had come a few minutes earlier or not gone to work that day, would she have been able to save him? Would he have died? Probably. As hard as it is to understand for those of us left behind, the fact is that we cannot change the past and beating ourselves up over it doesn't help. I know that is small consolation and it doesn't make the pain any less, but ultimately when we mourn we are sad for ourselves and not for the person who is gone.
I miss having someone to hold and share my thoughts, dreams, and time with, but I realize it is not in the cards for me. I have had love, great love, but it is gone and I have to look forward because I'll stumble and fall, unable to move, if I keep looking backward. I miss not being able to share every moment of my children's lives, watching them grow up and grow into their adult lives, but I can't change that either. I miss my youngest son, but I cannot change what happened or why. I wish I had more money and could have given my children the lives I feel they deserved; I still do. But I am poor and I'm barely making it right now. What I do know is that change is constant and though I am poor today and may be even poorer tomorrow, I will survive. I will find a way. In the end, if the world was destroyed tomorrow or someone dropped a bomb and you remained, could you still be happy without all the trappings and conveniences of civilization or would you spend your last days and hours mourning what you've lost? If you do, you'll die. Survivors carry the guilt for those who no longer care or even worry that they have moved on to the next plane of existence.
Happiness is not found in things, as wonderful and enticing as they seem to be. Happiness is a feeling and cannot be bought and sold. There's always more to have, more to get, more to reach for, but ultimately happiness is inside you. Can you reach it? Do you really want it?
Children are acquisitive creatures. They want what they see. They want the next, the brightest, the newest, but most innovative and technologically spectacular whatever they see, like crows and magpies picking up sparkling objects from wherever they see them no matter who owns them. But ultimately having is not happiness. Remember back to when you were a child or, if that is too dim a memory, when your children were little, what was their favorite toy? Was it the big, beautiful, bright and most expensive toy you could afford or was it some ratty old stuffed animal or blanket they wouldn't give up even long enough to wash, or a big spoon and an empty coffee can (like me)? Remember the look on their faces or the feeling when you played with your favorite toy. That is happiness.
If you want more, get more. Do what it takes. Give up what you love and cherish: your dreams, your future, your free time, or whatever Sacrifice yourself on the alter of more and give up what means most to you just so you can have what everyone else seems to have. Lie, cheat, steal, if necessary, and get that fancy house, fast car, latest technologically marvelous whatever and turn away from what really matters. It's out there and no one will bat an eyelash if you get what everyone else has in whatever way you can.
I know a woman who has a big beautiful house and lots of pretty land all around her. She has mortgaged her soul to hold onto it and even has her family working to help her maintain what she cannot. She has lots of gadgets, a pool, a deck, the best of everything and she had it with a husband, once upon a time, but their idyllic life was a sham. He led a double life. He had another child with another woman and spent much of his time with her. At home, he and his wife fought over their respective children, neither liking their spouses children from previous marriages, but they had lots of nice shiny new things and they loved to tell everyone how much it all cost and how it was the best and brightest and didn't you feel cheated because you didn't have as much. Their lives looked good from the outside, but they were miserable. She was in love with him, but less than two weeks after he left her for the other woman and his child with her, she was dating someone else, weeping and wailing how he done her wrong, but she was back out there. She had a boarder for a while, but even he moved on, and yet she still lives in that big house alone, the house and dream she still mortgages her life to maintain, but it is all show. Her house is bigger and fancier and more expensive than anyone else's in her family, but she isn't happy. She will never be happy, but she'll make sure everyone knows she has the best and she still has the trappings, the illusion of prosperity and success. But illusions aren't worth anything real or lasting. She is alone. She doesn't really care about her children, except when it comes to doing her duty to them. She has always bought them whatever they wanted, took them on wonderful vacations every year, but she sold herself and her happiness to get them. When all is said and done, her life is about nothing but work. She enjoys nothing. She loves nothing but the work, the acquisition of the trappings of success and prosperity, and she is not happy. She smiles. She laughs. She buys. But she is not happy.
Another woman of my acquaintance robbed her ailing grandmother of everything she has saved and worked for, taking vacations around the world, buying a big fancy house, and keeping her family in the style to which she had become accustomed, but she isn't happy either. She has to live every day with the knowledge that everything she owns, does, and has seen was taken from someone who loved and cherished her...if she thinks of it at all. She has a family, having divorced her previous husband because he couldn't make enough money to suit her, a wealthy and prosperous husband, a big house, goes on wonderful vacations, and looks happy, but she isn't. There is a dark worm eating her from the inside, hollowing her out because of what she sacrificed to have what looks so nice from the outside. She comes from a family to whom prosperity and the trappings of success mean everything. But she is not happy.
Or would it be better to look at what you have and nor worry what anyone else has. Don't be embarrassed if you can give your children or yourself what you think you want. Two weeks from now it won't matter when you're doing what you love and being with those that matter most in your life.
What are you willing to sacrifice for the trappings of success?
What do you love?