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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Legacies, Digressions, and That Time I Showed a City Employee My Bra

Tombstones resting on a hillside. A sure sign that this is going to be a fun blog post.
Look. There's no rhyme or reason here. It's been almost a year. It's been a hard year. Again. But I reserve the right to write here when I feel like it and to not write here when I don't. I eschew the official Rules for Blogging! ESCHEW, I say. I'm just not going to become one of those $20,000-a-month bloggers you read about in ads aimed at getting you to buy an ebook focused on the secret to becoming a $20,000-a-month blogger (and neither are you, but I digress).

In summation, I eschew, and also, I digress. In that order. Eschew. Digress. Repeat.

*brief pause in which I look up the word "eschew" to make sure I'm using it correctly*

Anyway.

Hi.

The reason I've goaded you into joining me over here today, what brings us together, you might say, is that all of the things have become really, really hard lately, and I'm pretty sure my brain, heart, and soul are broken by this point. And not in the metaphorical sense. Well, maybe the soul part, since the concept of a soul is metaphorical in and of itself. But, for fuck's sake. My brain is struggling to function through the endless barrage of misery and stress pouring in from countless external sources.

And my heart is doing a lot of actual pounding lately. I'm waking up in the middle of the night in a cold, gripping panic some nights - the kind of panic that flitters around erratically, unable to decide on the most appropriate place to land, until it just settles on something random for its terrible fixation. It could be the very future of our planet or how we're almost out of cat food and I don't want the cat to feel unloved or rejected if I don't present him with his favorite wet food option for breakfast (one day soon, not even tomorrow, when I could get some more cat food but ugh tomorrow is going to be stupid busy and I already don't feel like dragging children into a grocery store and how will we get everything done and what is the point and you see where this is going and now it's 4 a.m. and FUCK why can't I ever sleep).

This is just my life now.

It's a lot of our lives now.

Collectively, we are a mess, people.

I would have included a "y'all" there, in place of "people," but I don't think I've ever said "y'all" out loud in my life and it just didn't feel natural. But I think the flow would have been better.

I digress. I re-digress, even. I'm re-upping on the digressing.

We are a mess, friends. Folks?

Everybody is hurting. It seems as though this is the only thing we have in common as a collective anymore. The hurt might be coming in from different angles, but I'm just seeing so much of it. I'm seeing so much pain, and exhaustion, and stress, and resignation. A person can only internalize so much of this before it just doesn't even sink in anymore. Another shooting? More death? Another scandal? A new international incident? At a certain point, my own outrage, my own pain feels cliche, because I'm grasping for the same words I used the last time, and the time before that, and what did it do and why did I bother and this is why I never sleep.

And it's not all bad. Of course it's not. There is still light to be found, and love to be shared, and hope, and songs to sing, and stories to tell... Humans are nothing if not insufferably, doggedly optimistic. Most of us, at least, will eventually find a foothold on something that feels hopeful, and we'll climb, one foot at a time, out of the pit and into the Next Good Thing. We'll trudge along, as humans tend to do. As they are wont to do, if you will. But it's a long trudge out of that pit these days, what with all the rancid mudslides and poison-tipped arrows raining down.

And so, somehow, through some bizarre, labyrinthian thought process, I find myself contemplating the concept of legacies. What we're going to leave behind. Because we're all leaving something behind, things of various quality levels. Consciously or unconsciously. I used to think that for me, it would be writing. I'd leave behind some imaginary journal filled with insight and beauty and my children would read it and know me and love me more in hindsight and pass it down the generational chain and that would be it. My legacy.

Well, I mean, and them. The children would be a legacy left behind, too, but, good grief, I don't have time to digress again.

But here's the thing. The rub. The rock in your shoe. Our intentional legacy is only part of it. Our actual legacy is, like it or not, comprised of much more than that. Oh, if your offspring are of the gentle spirit crowd, they will appreciate that you wanted them to remember you a certain way, and they will love you for that part of you. But they aren't going to forget the shitty parts, either. Your procrastination and tendency toward messiness, both of which you probably passed on to them and which will eventually create an uneasy resentfulness for them to unpack in their thirties. Your sorry attempts at making French omelettes. Your barely masked annoyance at being forced to sit through 20 minutes of exposition related to a video game you could frankly not give fewer shits about.

It's all going to be in the mix. Otherwise, it wouldn't be a mix. It would be a highlights reel, and while those play well at the funeral, a legacy is by definition a concept that is not only carried on, but is also passed on. Your great grandchildren are going to hear that story about the time you accidentally flashed a bus driver because your zipper got caught in your sweater while you were flailing around like the idiot you just are (face it, you are an idiot), and that's just how it's going to be.

So, here's the nugget. Here's what I've concluded, after yet another (c'mon already) really stressful year (shit, this year isn't even over - there's a QUARTER left of it, somehow). Good god. I'm going to have to take a break just to let that realization wash over me like so much canned Miso soup I found at Big Lots.

*cough*

Here's the nugget. We have all got to let some shit go. This whole maintaining appearances crap? We don't have time for it anymore. The situation has gotten bleak, people. Stop pretending. Stop applying that filter to all your photos that makes you look like you're lost in a hopeless fog and are trying to communicate to your followers to send help before it envelops you and all is lost. Let your kids know you're a dork, and always have been, and that it's ok. While you're at it, tell yourself this, too. You are ok. Nope, not everyone likes you. Only a few people will ever actually get you. There are only so many compatible wavelengths, and it's ok. Not everyone is meant to be inextricably linked to your soul. Pour your love into those who are, and don't resent those who aren't. Relax. There are so many ways to live a life. Stop trying to live a life that looks like a life that you think people expect you to lead. It's your life. It's your life.  

Please stop being so hard on yourself, friends.
If we learn nothing else from the constant barrage, shouldn't it be that life is not guaranteed? That the life we think we "deserve" isn't always the life we get, but that it doesn't mean you stop living in the meantime?

Maybe our legacy should be one the lets our descendants know that we knew they weren't going to get it all right, either, but that ultimately, it's ok. I mean, don't commit any major crimes, great great grandkids, but don't beat yourself up for too long because you sideswiped an Amazon droid in your flying car, either. Your worth isn't defined by the worst (or best) thing you've ever done, your highest (or lowest) weight, or your tendency to tailgate.

You are worth the trouble, future family tree branch, and you were worth all the trouble we went through in this generation to pave this path for you (however half-assed the paving job). May you decipher with kindness that weird engraving on the family crest (the one with the bail bondsman and the moonshine and the knock-off boots). My legacy - the real one, the awkward, authentically flawed, but always genuine in its hope and love for you as you carry on our hopefully-not-infamous-by-now family tradition - is yours for the taking.



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