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Meredith's Miscellany - 11 September 2002

A rambling walk through my subconscious

I wasn't going to write anything about to day, but the weather conspired against me and forced me into a contmeplative and meloncholy mood.

Today was a blustery September day in Connecticut. Fairly standard fare in New England when approaching fall, but when combined with the emotions that today stirred up (both the real ones, and the ones the media has contrived to inspire in us), I find myself standing in an emotional tempest.

Life is filled with many disappointments and frustrations. One of the greatest out there is knowing you could, and should, be doing much more than you are currently, knowing you're settling for being less than you could be, but not knowing what it is you should be doing to be fulfilled.

That's been haunting me for years. The knowledge that no matter what or how much I'm doing, or how well I'm doing it, I'm not doing what I should be doing and therefore am failing to fulfill my potential, and my role in life.

I suppose it sounds nutty, but there's a click, a knowledge, a peace within me when I'm where I'm supposed to be and doing what I'm supposed to be doing. Not that what I"m doing is easy or sometimes even pleasant, but I know I'm fulfilling my potential at that moment. I haven't had that for a while.

The difference between a rut and a grave is two ends.

The problem is, I've never been able to figure out what it is I'm supposed to do and that's frustrating. For some people, they excell so much at one thing over others that it's obvious to them, and everyone else what their "calling" in life is - for some it's factory work (don't laugh, I know factory workers who love their job and are great at it), writing, research, mathematics... I've no definate direction like that. No one skill or talent of mine sticks out as being more or better than the others, which means I have to choose what to focus on and which skills to emphasise.

The drawback is that I don't know which set of skills would make me the happiest since I can get as much joy and satisfaction from hashing out the logic of a computer program as I do writing a poem, building a bookcase or playing my flute. I know, you're supposed to have hobbies to fulfill those aspects of talent and skill that you don't employ during your day, but that would leave me with an awful lot of hobbies... which, actually, I seem to have.

Now what, you may ask, does all this have to do with the day.

I think of the lives lost, the lives changed, and I think of my standing there, watching the smoke pour out of those buildings and cooling turning to my co-workers and telling them to get on their phones and call the customers before we began missing calls. (wow is that a run-on or what) One of them had 3 relatives working in the World Trade Center and I made sure she was on the phone troubleshooting an inventory call on which we almost missed our guaranteed response time.

For a year I have been unable to understand how I could do that. I'm not a cold person and, given that I cry at Kodak True Color comercials (among others), I'm not particularly hard-hearted. What I realized today as I saw a picture of what the skyline used to be in New York, my response that day was borne of frustration and anger. But it wasn't anger at anyone but myself. I couldn't do anything, I couldn't help.

At my core, that's who I am. That's what I do. I help others. I've litterally given away my last dollar because someone needed it more than I did. Even when exhausted, I'll give people rides so they don't have to walk or wait. I work shifts that are remarkable inconvenient and take away my only free evenings of the week so that others don't have to worry about it. I give everything I can in time and money to try and make other people's lives a little better. If I could have stood there that day and given my life so all of those people could go home, I would have. I couldn't help.

I couldn't do anything.

So I did what I'd taught myself to do - box up my heart, put down my head and focus only a small achievable goal and don't look at anything else. I hated myself for that and I hated the fact I couldn't help, I couldn't do.

I got over it, though the pain and shame are still there to some extent. I probably wouldn't have thought too much of it today, except the weather conspired to make this a meloncholy day, a day that was ripe for reflection and change.

There are some days, especially up here, that force you to look at yourself - at your soul - and get rid of the deadwood, get rid of the weak branches and strip away the fluff. They shake loose those long-buried things that dwell within and make you deal with them.

What I did a year ago was all I could do. Just as going to the park that day at lunch and weeping for the better part of an hour was all I could do. But it's not what I was meant to do.

I was meant for something more, or at least different, but I don't know what.

I don't know if I was changed a year ago, I'm not even sure the world changed, but I did have to stand up and evaluate myself. Take a good hard look at what I was doing and figure out what I needed to change.

I get caught up in the moments of life. This is good in some ways, but I lose track of the overall picture and meaning. I need to find the threads of theme in my life and create my life's plot around it. I don't have any more answers than I did a year ago, but I do have more questions.

The events of 11 September 2001 may have been a wake-up call to Americans on a world-event front, or even a political front, but my response to it shook me enough to force me to take a look at myself.

It's not fun to be disappointed in yourself, but I am. I have more to offer the world than being a supervisor in the technical support department of a software company. I just don't know what that something more is.

Of course, then I wonder if this is just arrogance on my part - egotism. It very well may be. I don't know.

I know almost all of my boyfriends wondered at my spending time with them, as if I was too good for them or out of their league or something. I never understood that, truth is I still don't. How could I be too good for anyone when everyone is unique, special and has something to give. I've always believed that everyone is the best at something, even if it's nothing glamourous, and that makes everyone equal and worthy of equal treatment and consideration. I guess that's either remarkably naiive, or very optimistic, but this view is so intrinsic to my being that I can't really change it. How could any one person be "too good" for someone? No one's perfect, no one's better than anyone else, just different. Am I so different from others that they can't comprehend me?

My mother once told me that if this was the 70's I'd be a flowerchild. I misinterpreted this at the time, as I do so many of my mother's comments like this, and was rather shocked since what I knew about flower children was that they did drugs and slept around a lot - which really something to tell your daughter - but that's not what she meant. She was talking about the beliefs, the kindness, the genuine love of everyone and the longing for peace. I don't get so much of the world, I suppose that's why I've chosen to live in the paradigm I do (something at not-quite right angles to reality). I don't get why people can't get beyond what happened to someone 3000 years ago who they really are about as related to as they are to me. I don't understand why there's so much hatred. Yes, I hate, but never for long and I usually feel so awful about it afterward that even if it wasn't my fault I end up seeking forgiveness.

That's a key - Forgiveness. If people could understand the power that saying "I'm sorry" has, especially when they mean it... If they could say "I forgive you" even without an apology, they could feel the weight lift from them, the darkness depart... Forgiveness is a powerful thing, and a liberating one.

The hard part is forgiving myself. I always expect perfection from myself, though not from anyone else. Oddly, until a few years ago, it didn't strike me as odd that I was supposed to be perfect eventhough no one else was. After all, I wasn't any good unless I was perfect. I was a failure unless I was perfect, and who could or would love a failure.

I write things like that and know the truth of them, that they are truely my thoughts and beliefs, that it is the way I live and think, yet I find myself baffled by the fact anyone could believe that. It's a completely absurd and unreasonable thought. Coming from any other human I would do my best to point out the absurdity of such a statement and try to convince them it's not true. But I can't even believe it's not true in my own life! Is this what drives the belief I'm not doing enough? That unless I collapse from exhaustion I'm not doing enough and even then I should have been able to keep going if I wasn't so weak?

Perfection is impossible.


End of story.

So why is anything less unacceptable? Why do I never see the good I do, why do I never see what I've accomplished, but only see the flaws, the problems and the weaknesses? No one can ever be happy as long as they do that to themselves. Sometimes you need to just leave it and say "Good job. Go me!".

I have to say, this has taken some odd twists, but I think venting all this stuff that's been blowing around inside me has helped me somewhat. If you've been so overly-generous as to read this, I truely hope you find unexpected blessings in your life, along the way for truely you are deserving.

I feel better. I might even be able to forgive myself for my actions now that I know they were born of frustration and helplessness.

Windy days in Septembers have always been good for my soul.