Friday, 19 October 2012

Choosing a Story

After twenty-six years of marriage, I've finally figured out the fundamental difference between the way I think and the way my husband thinks. He observes the situation he is in and then adapts accordingly. He molds himself to suit his circumstances. He acknowledges whatever is going on and fits himself neatly into whatever it is. He doesn't fight those circumstances or rage against fate or wail when things don't go the way he anticipated or wanted. In fact, I don't think he wants. He simply, neatly, and quietly just goes about his daily business. He is in the moment, and doesn't waste energy wishing things were otherwise. He accepts and then just gets on with it. If you ask his opinion, he doesn't have one readily available.

I, on the other hand, am never in the moment. I am irretrievably somewhere else all the time. I constantly live in my head, where I am bombarded every moment with stories. I see a house for sale, and instantly I envision living in it. I see a dog for sale and instantly I'm jogging on a deserted beach at sunrise with it. I hear of a fun-sounding career and bingo! in my head I'm doing it. A cool place to vacation? I'm there in a flash. A neat name? I imagine having a kid to name that. Because of this, I rarely stop to observe the situation I'm actually in, and when I do bump up rudely against reality and look around, I realize my life doesn't match the life I have going on in my head at that particular moment. It's very disorienting, sometimes, to look up and see what and who and where I actually am.

But I am crushed at the thought that, of all those stories, I can only live one. Ultimately I only have so many years on this planet and so many resources. So I look at where I am now and think "This is it. This is all there's going to be." And I want to rail against the unfairness of it. This is life as I have managed to create it (or fall into it, or however it is I got here). I will not, no matter how long I live, be able to live all of those stories I've imagined, all of those stories that are floating around out there in the world. And sometimes I wonder why I've been given these dreams if I can't possibly fulfill them all. It's sort of a cruel joke, like holding a cookie in front of a child but not letting him have it. You can sniff it, you can maybe even lick it a little, but you can't eat the whole thing. I suppose this might be what they call a mid-life crisis, when you pause and look around and say "So this is it?" Except I've been doing it my whole life, so I can't blame it on that. And if I can only have one, which one is the right one for me?

I can't complain about my life as it is, really. I've done a lot of the things I wanted to. I had a charmed childhood. I have all I need, I have a wonderful family, three kids I adore, a patient, gentle and wise husband, a beautiful country to live in, and a job that - for all its mindnumbingness - puts food on the table. I can't pinpoint anything wrong with my life. It just isn't other.

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