Last night, I was inspired to go back and read every post I’ve written on this blog. The first thing I thought was, wow, I’m really funny. I also thought, geez, I write a lot about food. I also felt like a little self-congratulations was in order. I really believe that I’ve done a good job of keeping my commentary focused on me: how I feel, and how I react, to situations both within and outside of my control.
Control. Now that’s a funny word. I’ve discovered a few things about myself since moving to Portland. For instance, I really like to be in control. Not over everything—I’m actually really great at delegating and saying no, thank you, when I don’t have the capacity to take on another responsibility—but over my life, and me and mine, and the regular rhythm and routine of my household. I like to live in a world where the people I love most are happy and thriving, and it devastates me when forces and situations that are outside of my control bring unnecessary pain and grief into that world. I don’t tolerate it well. In fact, you can say that I don’t tolerate it, so much as endure it, and I become extremely defensive and protective when the ecosystem I’ve worked really hard to build and nurture is threatened by something or someone I can’t control. With that said, looking back on my writing, I feel like I’ve treated delicate issues in my life with care and grace, even if it is occasionally laced with a bit of sarcasm and a little fun had at someone else’s expense (typically a stranger). I’ll excuse any of my own past transgressions (perhaps an accurate characterization was construed as negative?), with this: I AM A WRITER. The beauty of the craft is the perspective the writer brings to the events. If you were to write it, it would be a completely different story.
Surely, I could use my own little piece of the Internet to vent and rant and complain, but who would want to read that? There’s enough suffering in this world, that laborious details about my run-of-the-mill middle class problems don’t need to consume valuable real estate. I come here, after a little bit of time and distance from the problem, hours or even days after the venting and ranting I reserve for private telephone conversations with my closest friends and family, to express well-formed (for the most part) thoughts and insights from whatever fresh struggle or conflict I feel compelled to reflect on.
One ongoing theme in my life, which I feel like I’ve done some justice to in my past posts, is the idea of expectations, and the contentment or disappointment that follows. We all go through life with expectations: of relationships, investments, jobs, and government. And sometimes when life doesn’t meet those expectations, we feel wronged. Slighted. Shorted. Victimized. But the reality is, that’s just life. And if it’s your life, it’s a product of every decision and every sacrifice you’ve ever made, leading up to that moment. At the end of the day, when all of the finger-pointing and name-calling is over, we can only take responsibility for our own actions. No one is this life owes you anything. I’m guilty of having such expectations. Coming into my current life and love, I expected to experience maturity, and personal growth, and to learn from adults, who have experienced a lot of things in life I couldn’t begin to wrap my head around in the short 23 years I had spent on this earth. I had high expectations, and I was willing (if intimidated), to take on the task of role model, if that’s what it meant. I’ve been disappointed. In my actions, and the actions of others. But, in reality, all of the things I was looking for, came to me. In the face of conflict, I’ve matured. In the reality of a life that wasn’t what I imagined for myself as a little girl perched in front of a three-story Barbie dream house, but is beautiful in its own right, I’ve grown. From adults who have let me down (as well as other people, far less capable of my introspective), I’ve learned a lot.
I read a quote, completely randomly, on Instagram yesterday, and I’m preparing to completely misquote it now: “Never regret what once made you happy.” I like this, because it’s a wonderful way to allow yourself to forgive people, and forgiving other people is the only way to forgive yourself. Life is hard. Everyone has issues. Hopefully, everyone finds a way to work through them. That’s not strength; it’s surviving. For me, the only way I’ve been able to work through mine, is to remind myself everyday that they exist, and that every morning I wake up, I make a choice to be better than that. To be a better, kinder person. And being truly kind, satisfies me far more than the artifice of kindness. Mercy at the hands of the powerful, is not kindness. It’s mercy.
I’m striving for something more genuine than that. Read at your own peril.