This was not my destiny. Marriage and children was something that happened to other people, folk not sure what to do with their hands or their lives and needed to have every moment taken up by a glut of obligation. Better to be needed than be nothing at all. I was never that person. I’ve always known exactly what i wanted to do with my life and it had everything to do with constant base jumping into the unknown through collecting vast life experiences and peeling back the layers of the false self as a consequence. In short, independence. I am a seeker first and foremost and once something is known to me, continuing on with it is equivalent to riding the dead carcass of a horse in a race.
What I seek is the same constant in my life and that is beauty. When I speak of beauty, I am talking about the space in between moments of knowledge and expectation, those little unexpected gifts that turn up every now and again in a variety of guises to remind oneself that everything is already perfect. Everything. You, me, the crack in the road, the girl with half a leg, America…all of it! Even the local Hoon driving past with his speakers breaking the sound barrier is magic at those moments and for a second he is just a part in the orchestra of madness that is this beautiful life. But to catch those moments, now that is the tricky part. Little did i know they were just flying at me from the day i was born, all through my adolescence and into my 20 somethings. I was so assured that the magic of things was here to stay that i began to experiment with melancholy just to help me appreciate the gold moments. I flirted with that big, black wolf on and off, just to see how far into the belly of the dark beast i could travel and still breathe. I journeyed for quite some time, confident that i could come up for hope whenever i wished. I had no idea that when i resurfaced, I would be in my thirties where the rules for happiness change. Magic and beauty are hidden and only emerge once you’ve gutted yourself on a sharp fence in public, where you hang suspended for several years trying to piece together how you arrived there, the reoccurring thought being: WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO MY LIFE?
I got married and had children.
i became wrapped in a suffocation of certainty that the day i had before yesterday would not be dissimilar in it’s overall theme as the day before that one and the next several years ahead would be the same as that. The magic exists in a perpetual game of hide and seek with routine and losing out to it most of the time. No one prepares you for the death of your child self as you replace it with the need to take care of your own child and the fragile unit called family. Committed to everyone, but myself.
What was my life before the loss of me, the I, the self that can maintain a train of thought for hours, uninterrupted by the need to sing the theme song from Thomas The Tank Engine every hour? The Lover you once loved with passion becomes an accomplice to this tragedy. Frustration over the 33rd sleepless night in a row is an opportunity to corner him and blame him for what your life has shrivelled to: A long path ahead of epic responsibility and an absence of choice.
It isn’t all hardship of course, there are great moments. When everyone is getting along and there is some smiling, the child is fed and doing things that are endearing instead of screaming for 4 hours straight until a breast or bottle is stuck in it’s mouth to just SHUT THE CHILD UP! Those moments are like someone has gifted you a window onto hope. At first you think those windows will never appear and they don’t for awhile. All that you feel at first is the bottom falling out of your reality in the face of that sudden, sharp learning curve that your life will never be the same again and you are right. Those vain attempts trying to squeeze in “your life before” by taking the kids out to a restaurant, only cements your changeless destiny as you flee all public arenas in a manic cloud of chaos, whispering vows to yourself NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!
What was my life before all this?
Fabulous! Just straight up fabulous, independent, not a care in the world, whimsical, emotionally treacherous, adventure filled, exciting, self-absorbed, a straight up narcissistic, blissful existence. Well that is how i see it after yet another day taking care of everyone else, but myself. By the time you have a husband and two children, you’ve relinquished so many parts of your history that you start sending postcards to your old self to find out who you once were. You have acquiesced to the fact that nothing will be to do with you anymore, that you could easily have 10 kids by this stage, you wouldn’t notice a thing. That is why everything that was once me in those moments of packing lunches, folding 4 people’s washing and picking up after everyone else’s fun looks magnificent. Everything; the unrelenting twenty something uncertainty, the emotional intensity of he hasn’t called back, the mental breakdowns, the poverty, the hideous share accommodation, the instability of constantly moving or travelling, the searching, the angst – God, The Angst! The constant search for something, it all in those moments looks fabulous!
I get up off the floor and move the breakfast things, more out of habit than desire. If i just get this done, i can maybe draw for a few hours before i pick up the kids.
I see all the washing to be folded, the floors to be swept, the toys to be put away and then of course by then dinner will have to be started so it will be ready in time for the kids after school. I forget about the drawing and i die a little more.
Did i miss something? The last thing i remember before all this happened, when i fell in love and arrived here, i was beseeching the cosmos and it went something like this:
Hi (i don’t think i said God, because i was on the cusp of nihilism at the time and i didn’t want to be hypocritical)
Perhaps i said “Universe” which is a typical Generation X way around the fear of being seen to believe in anything solid. I should have just prayed to Fox Mulder and maybe my prayer would have been unanswered and saved me. Anyway, the prayer went something like this:
Something is missing in my life and I think it is context. I am tired of everything being about me (famous last words). Please bring more meaning into my existence in whatever way you think that will challenge me to expand beyond my spiritual flat-line at present.
Let it be said that while I was begging for meaning in my existence, I was riding on the back of a gorgeous horse through El Chalten in Patagonia, with no one around me but the beautiful 22 year old Gaucho leading the way and a panorama of exquisite beauty beyond anything i have ever seen to date. The “Universe” probably felt like responding with:
What an inconsolable little twerp you are! May I ask what rabbit I have to pull out of a hat to please you? If you can’t find meaning in the mountains of Patagonia, then
your inner muse is a corpse. I know just how to handle the likes of you. You want context? You are tired of everything being about you? Fabulous! I will put you in a situation where you will be begging for the beauty and liberty of this horse ride and not enough time to even scratch yourself, let alone picture yourself here.
Instead, “The Universe” showed me infinite compassion and just said “O.K” and opened up a chasm for me to fall blindly into my destiny.