In the past few months, maybe a year, I've thought a lot about the things I thought I wanted. Out of life, out of myself, out of my kids, from my family in general, from my government, from my friends. It's possible to live a half century and find out that the stones set in the first layer of a personal foundation were rocks of crumbling sandstone.
It's like building anything. If the foundation is shaky, the building cannot stand for long.
The tools used are important as well. Resources, building materials, tools, know-how, motivation, planning and creativity. I've had wisps and bits, mass and multiples, of all of these elements. Putting all things together in the right fashion, and with the right timing, has eluded me.
Here's a personal example in the queen-size wooden bed I built three weeks ago. I had the tools, the know-how, the design, but the resources were just not there. I walked into Lowe's with $25 in my pocket. The discount route on the materials was choosing to use two-by-fours as the frame, instead of standard side rails built with sturdier two-by-sixes. Not enough money to buy additional wood for adequate crossposts or possibly use four-by-fours for the legs. It took less than three weeks for the bed to fall apart. (Don't jump on it! Bounce! Crack!) I knew it would break, it was just the timing of the fail that escaped me. I nailed the damn thing back together with one-by-ones cut on a miter as a kind of triangular brace. I nailed the damn thing with nails this time, in frustration and impatience tinged with sadness that I hadn't been able or willing to do a better job the first time. I used nails, not wood screws. The fix is indelicate, rough, and again, impermanent. I know it is. How much have I defined my future actions by my past choices?
Such a template sketches the pattern of my life as a series of impermanent projects, never fully finished, always waiting for a better redux, a more efficient design, a better source of funding, a more meaningful engagement with life.
Such a template translates as well to how I've engaged with family, now mostly gone. I was always waiting for more time to chat, more time to dig into the personal, a more meaningful engagement of minds with the people I was born into. It didn't happen, and now it won't.
At the end of this year full of drama and massive failures and things gone that we all thought were forever, my take-away that I throw out to you all is that it's time to re-examine what we think we want. Ponder what we need. Blend these two critical ingredients into a life that allows time to filter out the debris, even the healthy, healing debris, and move ahead, beyond that which is not necessary.
For me, it's time to pass grief by.
Happy New Year, all. I wish the very best for all of us, and warm memories of those we have lost.
(also posted at Dailykos, December 29, 2008)