The year in review (a little early)
2012 seems to have been a highly tumultuous, stressful, meaning-laden period in my life, masquerading as the usual routine. Things have basically hummed along like usual--no moving house, no major purchases, no exotic (or even domestic) travel to report--but in between everything running along as expected, there were a whole lot of learning experiences that had their way with me. Some has come by way of the "imparting the truth in rough shocks" method of teaching, and the rest through probably excessive amounts of navel-gazing and some picking and choosing between truths.
I've learned that 'better off alone' has actual meaning for me. This concept has gotten me in a whole lot of trouble with a couple of people, and for that I'm sorry; it was never supposed to be anything but a philosophical ramble, definitely not a point of contention with good friends. But it's true, see? It really is true. And it doesn't come from a place of bitterness or rejection, but looking both emotionally and critically at what I've been through and what I want. And what I'm offered, too. It's not as if I'm sorting through a stack of social invitations each week, turning down everything that comes my way from eligible males. I am, for whatever reason, off the radar of most single guys. I am on the radar of married guys, crazy guys, and especially crazy married guys. None of these is particularly appealing to me, for what I hope will be obvious reasons that I shouldn't have to enumerate. What is appealing to me?
- Someone who's single, but who wants to date one person: me.
- Someone who's basically got his shit together (meaning, who's not so much "crazy" as maybe "fun" or "a little weird").
- Someone who can't be described as a pretty boy--I'm SO done with pretty boys.
- Someone who's got a job. A real job! Something that he doesn't avoid at all cost because it cuts into his recreation time, that he doesn't do only in season, that keeps him busy enough that he doesn't resent my full-time job. Better yet, it could be something that he likes, that challenges and engages and fulfills him, that would be something he missed if he didn't have it in his life.
- Someone who really 'gets' reading, movies, music, art, theatre, science, math. Something. Anything. He's got to have a passion for thinking, feeling, creating--because if he doesn't have that, he's not going to 'get' me.
- Someone who can deal with spending time with me only--meaning, remaining faithful--while not spending all kinds of time with me. I live alone and treasure the solitude; it would take a lot to get out of the basic habits, much less the emotional rationale behind them.
- Someone who can kill the big bugs in my life, change my oil, and carry the heavy boxes. I can do it, but there are times when I'm just tired, and tired of being the one to do it.
- Someone who likes to kiss. I'm not just talking about "willing"--there has to be active enjoyment there. Life is too damned short to go without it.
As you see, my wants/needs/wishes list is long, and my options are pretty short. Should I settle? Or should I continue to do well without--which I do--and continue to hold myself in sufficient esteem to avoid settling, to avoid wasting someone else's time, to avoid getting messed up with someone who's truly not what I want? Am actually I better off alone than with someone who's just OK? Or not even really OK? If you really know me, if you really care about me, if you really want the best for me, then you can put aside the platitudes, and encourage me to be good with what I've got right now.
I've learned that generosity has limits, and they are very short. The impulse for generosity is a pure, wondrous thing. The application of generosity ought to be scrutinized very closely. The motivation behind it can be cloudy, and the results of it can be disastrous. I did something a couple of months ago that I thought was only marginally "generous" but was also necessary because of who I am and who I want to be, the sort of person that I aspire (of such a term is appropriate) to become. I was also led to believe that it was more minor than it turned out to be, and also far more short term. However, I made my choice, and there is obviously nothing that I can do about it now. If I could go back, what would I change?
Everything. Every Damned Thing. This one act of generosity--or love, or foolhardiness, or loyalty, or whatever the Hell it was--has ruined me. I don't have any hope of poking my head above water, financially, for at least a year because of this mess. Even then, I'll be significantly further behind than I was when it all started, and the other people affected by the decision will be in the same position that I am. This all makes me wretched, and I'm powerless to change it.
I've learned that I'm terrible at just listening. It's sort of funny, in that not-at-all-funny way, that I'm sort of known for being a good listener. I think that's true, for what it's worth, in certain circumstances. But I can't just listen. I want to do something. I don't even want to "help," but I want to immediately take action. It's sort of ridiculous, considering that I'm very little help in some circumstances, and of course in some other circumstances there's nothing that anyone can do anyway. But seriously, there's very little that's more frustrating to me than when someone vents on me and then leaves me there, wound up and helpless. I'm not saying that I don't want to listen; I am saying that no one should be surprised when my reaction isn't a very calm "hmm." If you're confiding in me, you've got to know me better than that.
As a corollary, I've also learned that I'm not at all forgiving of people who hurt my friends.
I've learned that a simple insult can stay with me, in crystalline form, for a remarkably long time. The effects of slights or offenses can sometimes be more positive than negative, though, particularly when one gives oneself the opportunity to sort out the objective truth from the hurt feelings. Ulysses' horrid friend Toby made me aware that if I were to be in "fighting shape," I needed to lose some weight and build some strength. It was a rotten way to hear it, but it was the right thing to hear, and at the right time. Since then, I've lost 25 pounds, and I'm Strong As Ox. Naturally, there is more that I could do, and will do. But there's a lot that I've done, eh? And for my own right reasons, plucked out of a mess of wrong ones.
I've learned that for all that I love fancy jewelry, expensive electronics, quality leather goods, performances by professional musicians, live theatre, and other such luxuries, one of my favorite things in life is completely free. I love to share my unique brand of weirdness with my friends. It gives me great joy to have a friend over for the first time and watch them look at my stuff, my collections and the titles of the books on my shelves (the "evil" shelf! the "psychology and kissing" shelf!), the three cabinets in my kitchen that are devoted to cookie- and/or cake-baking, my almost frighteningly well-stocked bar.... I love answering the peculiar questions that come with the moments of discovery. I love to see what appeals to certain people, how the tenor of a visit can be set by what appeals to a person out of the conglomeration of stuff that they find here. There's just something about a guy who asks me whether I sing to my plants. Or my girlfriends, cooing at the jewelry worn by my stuffed animals.
I've learned that my family, exasperating as they can be sometimes, is still and all my family. I love them beyond words, miss them like crazy, and can't wait to go home for Christmas.
[the title quotation is by William Jennings Bryan, from testimony in Tennessee v. Scopes (1925)]