Thursday, March 22, 2012

What I Got

It apparently takes me a while to “get” some things.  Like how much life needs to be sucked out of you before you say “OK, I guess there’s REALLY nothing good left here”.  Or maybe how to recognize, and maybe even occasionally embrace defeat.  That’s been REALLY tough for me to “get”.  I have this persistent stoic, stubborn, never give-up trait or disposition or cellular imprint or big honking flaw.  This year I have been forced to give-up on a few fronts.  In my personal life as well as my professional life.   I have perhaps not exactly embraced defeat, but I have learned to live with it.  I am not interested in making it  a welcome guest, but it does not need to be an invasive intruder either.  I suppose I have finally learned to accept defeat on rare, but necessary occasions.   I have learned to look a little closer at what the lessons might be and actually learn from them.

But on second thought…..

It’s not so much acceptance, and it’s definitely not about embracing defeat.  I think it is more akin to taking a really close look and deciding what is most important to keep and what is most important to toss out, have yanked from you (while you gave it your all), or just leave behind.  Instead of accepting defeat, I have learned that you may also redefine it, or rearrange it, or redistribute it.  So maybe I have actually figured out that no matter how right I might believe I am, being right or doing the right thing does not always bring accolades, acknowledgement or affirmation of the slightest degree.  It occasionally brings admonishing, adversity, and aberration.  It gets confused with upper-handedness, and may cause others to look at their “wrongs”, or their lack of experience or their inner weaknesses or some such dribble in a way that makes them threatened and reactive.  Suddenly you might even find yourself imagining that it is wrong to be right.  But that's just silly.   It might be wrong to express how right you are, but this can be easily remedied.  Simply carry yourself as though you have a smug little secret and keep them guessing. 

This new found understanding is helping me.  I am beginning to “get” how some systems work.  And boy howdy it has taken me a long time.  I am starting to “get” a variety of things that I never before allowed myself.  I have been steadfastly moving on the path of do-the-right-thing, with a few stops at have-a-little-fun-on-the-way.  I have been deeply hurt and sadly burdened by those that are on the path of do-whatever-you-want-and blame-those-around-you-for-your-troubles.

Being a realist/idealist has gotten in my way.  It has made it difficult to see things as they are, because I am always imagining the potential.  I want things to be the best possible way they can be.  People and objects alike.  I want the world to be a place that hums toward greatness and possibility.  I want things to buzz with efficiency and function, because someone made something or did something that they were proud of and delighted in the process.  I want people, all of us, to be working toward some good end.  

Are you getting that I was spoon fed the American Dream?  In some ways I was, but with a healthy (or maybe a dark) side of reality and a few broken dreams for good measure.  I am also an optimistic cynic and a left leaning liberal with fairly conservative personal values and the need for honored privacy.  Maybe this is why I am so hard to “get”.  But I am slowly getting things just the same.

Today for instance, I got divorced.  I “get” this.  It turns out I got so much more than I could have imagined.  I had no idea I would be ever so enhanced by the process. 

I got my life back.
I got to hold my ground about who I am, what I stand for and how I wish to go forward.
I got my children to see and understand that life is complex and full of struggles but it is amazing and precious too.
I got to show them that they are worthy and of value and that I will never turn my back on them.
I also got their sense of loss, I had it too.
I unfortunately got their pain and at times anger when they had nowhere else to direct it and no one else to question.
I later got their understanding.
I got to share the true value of family and the need to support each other in spite of the attempts otherwise.
I got to see and feel the bond that they will always have for each other.
I got friendships that have deepened in spite of quite a few beatings from my self-defeated down times that I didn’t want, but got just the same.
I got to alter my belief that needing others is not a sign of weakness but a sign of belonging.  

I got to understand that privacy can be damaging and stifling and constricting.
I got to learn that sometimes fears can be overcome, and sometimes they help guide us and protect us. 
I got to look beyond shame and embarrassment and see humanity and resolve.
I got to test out my instincts and maybe, finally, and really truly learn that they are more than worthy of trusting.
I got a small cottage, far away and the opportunity to rebuild and redo all that was undone there.
I got to climb to amazing heights and see views and perspectives that are only visible from the top and I got the satisfaction of making it there.

I got to emerge as an artist and  build my skills as a photographer.
I got to write and publish.
I got to open up to new people and I got more open from the experience.
I got to understand that I don't always have what others want or need.
I, in turn got to begin to realize, I don't have to take what I don't want.
I got to keep my dignity.
I got to let go of some very heavy baggage that was weighing me down and those around me.
I got a much needed reminder that adversity and struggles are the very gifts that carry you to places you never dreamed possible.  
I got to look back, and over, and inside to find that I got much more than I gave up.
It turns out I got everything and then some. I got back my smile, and my joie de vivre and I got a lot more where that comes from.