Things really hit me hard yesterday. I'm a QUARTER OF A CENTURY!!! Egads. I'm dumb or brave enough to be attempting to build my own house. I'm trying to work full time and run a fulltime business. I’m trying to be a wife. I’m trying to keep my brain between my ears. What am I doing? Am I nuts? I must be. It all sort of crashed down around my ears yesterday, and Jake and I had a really long, nice talk, and we discussed raising a family (more panic!) and what our priorities are, and how to get out from under what small debt burdens we have, and it all kind of slid into place.
I'm enormously content with my life. Yes, I work too hard, and run too far and try to many things, and can't get all the ideas out of my head, so that they keep me up at night, but basically, my life is good. I feel enormously lucky. I wouldn't be where I am if I hadn't had a remarkable streak of luck. I can walk. I can see. Everyday I remember to be grateful for these things. (Which reminds me, I need to schedule an eye appointment. Scarily enough, it's time for another laser surgery, methinks) Every morning (if I'm not too grumpy and pissed off because the alarm is going off), I roll over and look at my husband (my husband! Yikes!) and think, how many people have this? How many people can say these things? So I have crippling pain every so often. I whine too much! No, I don't have the innate talent that I would like to, but I can work harder, and get the skills that I need to make up for it.
Part of what really got me thinking about things were phrases that two of my friends wrote about me recently. Fireborn chose such a perfect quote for me: "The trouble with being an adult is that it takes so much time." (paraphased) Isn't that the truth! But thinking about this quote made me question my priorities.
I'm a lousy friend. Not that I would leave a friend high and dry, or that I'm not any fun to go out bowling with or whathaveyou, but I hate phone calls, won't return them, suck at friendly overatures (things that require effort anyway), my follow-up skill is zilch, and I'm constantly out in space. The things I like to do are solitary things. It isolates me. You don't hang out with your friends and draw. You don't hang out with friends and write, or play computer games, you don't hang out with friends and tweak printer settings (yeah, Ellen's idea of fun). So usually, I just don't hang out with friends. Which really, in my opinion, makes me a pretty worthless friend. And it scares me that I prioritize everything above friends. I think that’s a deplorable thing. I do not care enough about other people. This is a goal of mine; to be a better friend.
And Ciri wrote that (again, paraphrased) she admired my creativity and drive to achieve my goals.
That… touched me.
As long as I can remember, drive is something I’ve not been lacking in, though it is surely something I don’t give enough credit to. You know how I chose my major in college? I asked around and figured out what the hardest major to get was. It was electrical engineering, by consensus, but Mechanical engineering was second. And I wasn’t thrilled with what I’d seen of EE, so I took second best. Is that not the most… driven… reason to choose a major? Honestly, I was good at math, and I wanted something that would garner me a decent paycheck, but I picked my major because it was HARD. That was, I think, my third major stroke of luck.
Oh, but see, I’m all out of order, or would be if I were doing anything but rambling. My first stroke of luck is my eyes.
I was born with very bad myopia. Nasty stuff, glasses since I was very young, very thick, very nerdy. When I was a freshman in HS, I found out I was going blind. By this point, I was well entrenched in art, and the idea of losing my vision scared the shit out of me. (Though at that age I would never have even considered using the word ‘shit…’ I was pretty sheltered) But see, the stroke of luck is several fold: they *caught* the fact that I was going blind, and were able to prevent it, the fact that the local optical surgeon is one of the best in the country, and the fact that when they went in for the surgery, they thought that they had several months of leeway, but in fact discovered that they were miraculously lucky in catching it when they did. I was in the hospital for a week. If they’d been a week later in performing surgery, it would have been reconstructive surgery, and I would have been there for months. As it was, the surgery was twice or three times as long as they expected.
I can see. I treasure that every day. I abuse my eyes horribly, but I am so grateful to them. My appreciation of beauty is keener because of what happened, and I think that’s of enormous value.
The second order of luck: I can walk. No, that’s not right. It’s not really that I can walk, it’s that the accident happened. If that accident hadn’t occurred, I’m not convinced I would have found out who I could be. I would have drifted, never learned discipline, always able to skate by at a general level without effort. I would never have had the time and frustration to start my business, or to learn patience, or to discover my own darknesses. I would never have remembered to take joy in things like tying my shoelaces or running, or rolling in the snow.
Joy is such a strange, nebulous thing. Children are full of it, but as we get older, it is so easy to forget it; to let it become non-priority. Ask yourself, when was the last time you did something for the sheer joy of it? Joy is one of the many things I find is seriously underrated. What could possibly be better? Think about the last time you ran outside in the winter in your bare feet just to yell at the sky, “I am alive!” And ask yourself, what am I doing that is more important than that?
I had to go through a terrible time to re-discover joy. But I was so lucky. It could have been so much worse. I fractured my lowest vertebrae, *below* the spinal chord. Occasional pain and creeping aches are bearable. I can walk. I went through a horrible, nasty, painful depression, during which I wanted nothing more than blissful peace, and joy had no meaning to me, and the only relief from pain was sleep, and I never wanted to wake up. But depression passes. Joy is eternal in us, only waits for us to reach in and recognize it.
We are shaped by our luck. Every bad thing, every nasty incident, every suffering pain forms us. Every chance meeting, every thoughtful word, every random smile. Everything is luck, or fate, or divine guidance or whatever you want to believe that it is, but we can choose *how* it shapes us. Call it faith, or inspiration, or simply joy.
Conclusion: This ramble apparently has no point. But it was a release to write. And I happen to think, at least at the moment, that I’ve had a damn interesting life. Now, if you don’t mind, I think I’m going to go outside and yell at the sky, “I am alive!”