We are at once captivated by the will to do good as much as we are by the propensity to choose evil and thus our fate lies always in the choice.
I recently endured a breakup of the extraordinary kind. The romantic relationship I thought would surely and thankfully be my last on this earth came to a screeching halt. I found myself asking all the usual whys which instantly garnered responses marked by yellow, pink and red flags etched solidly in my memory. Ahhhh. I see. Of course, I received the customary condolences of friends who sought to share my pain. After lingering in limbo for a week trying to figure out which feelings were more prevalent: anger, disdain, hurt, sorrow or relief, I finally settled on a nice even numbness (non aided by alcohol – this time) where the silence beckoned softly, “Come. Sit. Stay. I promise. You’re going to be okay.” It was there I was able to reconcile the unexplainable questions that left me wondering if I would ever journey down the L-road again. “Maybe, eventually…” the voice of optimism said. “Okay, kid. Cut the crap,” a different voice demanded. “Everybody hates eventually. It means not right now. It means sometime in the future the healing will begin and end. But ‘When?’ is always the question that begs answering and won’t wait patiently while you figure it out.” Give me a break. Life can be very hurry up and wait. Now Love too? “C’mon! You’ve got to be kidding!” my inner child screamed. Then, plain as day amidst the cacophony and soft as a whispering wind I heard, “True healing begins within.” Who said that?! Identify yourself. Since when is there any reasoning with a broken heart? Emotional wounds need salve. Bruised egos need ice. And I need closure, dammit. Do you hear me? I need closure! Silence. More silence. Fine. You win. Self look it is. As I pondered the scenario inwardly in depth, I suddenly realized nothing in the equation hurt more than the loss of love. The atmosphere that was once filled with I love yous, I miss yous and I can’t wait to see yous – now a vacant, hollow echo of what once was. The deep and profound sense of loss was the ache I could not escape. And it hurt like a bitch.
Yet, isn’t that the case with any disappointment in life? Not to trivialize or minimize my (or our shared) experience, but any expectation fallen short of meeting its goal ends in disappointment whether love, career, family or fill-in-the-blank. I can hear my mother’s voice, “Your expectations are too high. Keep your expectations low and you will never be disappointed by people.” Well, if you’re listening or reading from up above, Mom, no disrespect… But, I still don’t understand that one. Are we talking puddle-low, bathwater low, or shallow-end of the Olympic sized swimming pool low? *scratches head* I know. I’ve always asked too many questions. Fine. Maybe it’s more like my cousin used to say, “Girl, nothing anyone does surprises me anymore. If it wasn’t for audacity, people wouldn’t have anything.” Hmmm. Okay. I buy that. So, keep my expectations tempered while being cautious that someday someone may randomly dunk me into a booth-full of b.s.? Is that the key? Somehow, I don’t think my father would have agreed. (Whatever the verbal contribution, my pops was not short on words. He also was not easily impressed by people unless you were Leontyne Price. Take that.) He lived with his share of people disappointments. Unfulfilled expectations. Being forced by his father to work to help feed the family in lieu of pursuing higher education was one we heard about frequently. But, it never stopped him from acquiring a vast array of knowledge from whatever source he could find. Wait a minute. That’s it, isn’t it? That’s the choice I want. The one that reaches past the disappointment, through the hurt and pain, and lays firm grasp upon the goal in spite of the loss and without the bitterness. Thanks, Dad! That’s the piece I was looking for… not the corner but the one smack in the middle. It can be the most difficult to place, but it’s usually the piece that puts the rest of the puzzle in perspective.
And so it is with perspective… once you see clearly, the voices subside and the healing begins. I think I’m good for now. I mean, I could wallow in the ‘woe is me’ or continue to count my blessings and keep my head held high. The choice is what defines me and the choice is always mine and mine alone.
Persnickety Self Adjustment: Don’t worry. If the voices in my head begin singing opera I will officially check myself in. Somewhere safe. Possibly with padded walls.