“Everything is complicated; if that were not so, life and poetry and everything else would be a bore.” ~Wallace Stevens
I looked up one day and realized a decade had passed, and then two, and that time was still passing me by at a reckless pace, but it wasn’t really passing me by. It was taking me along with it, and I was experiencing things. I just wasn’t appreciating them for what they were, and for what they remain: a life in progress. Experiences piled on top of other experiences to create a mosaic of life that I just thought was pretty, or different, or I didn’t even notice it at all because I was busy with my nose to the grindstone trying to figure out how to make my mark in the world. But they were never that simple, never too easy, those grand aspirations. They still aren’t.
I’m easily bored. That’s a certain truth. No matter what I’m doing I’m always thinking that there has to be something out there better, except of course when I’m writing. When I’m writing nothing is boring because I’m creating. I’m a god organizing my characters on the page like little toy soldiers, but they’re not all green and I’m not strapping them to parachutes and hoping they survive. I’m giving birth to them, giving them complicated roles, forcing them to live their lives in tandem with my other characters, then killing them or letting them die as I see fit. It’s exciting to be that all-powerful, so you can see why nothing else compares.
Yet even when I’m bored, it doesn’t last long, even when writing is nowhere near. Maybe I should revise the previous statement. It’s true that life likes to throw in a curveball or two, or twenty, changing my blueprint from the one I picked to another one, to another one, until the final house looks absolutely nothing like my initial plans. And I shift with the ensuing complications because this is only one life I’m living. I can’t create another when I’m fed up with this one. I have to take it as it comes, and try to shape it as best I can in my very limited way. Because I’m not a god, not here where there are no fresh pages to sully. I’m just one of the huddled masses trying to stay warm, trying to advance just an inch before getting shoved back by life.
We all make our marks in different ways, but the ones who make the biggest impressions are the ones who believe challenges can be learning opportunities. In my almost 40 years of life I’ve been working hard at that realization, at taking all those opportunities and focusing my life through them, but it’s hard. It’s one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do because when those unforeseen challenges come all I want to do is crawl into a hole and hide away until spring. I’m somehow making progress, though, thanks to those other little ants who I come in contact with every day who help me see the bigger picture, who help me to stop and take a snapshot, examining it for imperfections and helping me to see through the blurs.