Sunday, February 27, 2005
Feeling kind of alone in the world.
Dag is gone, back to Montreal, and while I managed to keep her visit light and fun right until the end, I now miss her terribly. I have no idea when I'll even get to see her again. Unlike with other people I met abroad (if I'm being honest, every single person I met abroad), I knew that we would keep in touch, and I knew that we would meet up again in the very near future. Everyone else contacts me whenever the hell the feel like it, which a lot of the time is never. I don't have that guarantee with anyone else. Sometimes I feel I don't even have that guarantee with the people I'm closest to.
As such, I feel really broken up inside. I have the feeling that everything I think I am is illusionary. What if what everyone else sees is not beauty and brilliance but a girl who is too loud, too obnoxious, and too self-absorbed? What if I have imagined everything I am? What if my self-confidence turns out to be the biggest lie of all?
I can't help but feel when life is testing me that if I was a great person, I wouldn't have to worry that people will lose touch with me, not call me back, never call me at all, put me at the bottom of their list of priorities, or simply forget that I exist altogether.
I sometimes wish I could just skip ahead 10 or 20 years, and cut right to the chase. After completing a pretty useless undergraduate degree, I could find myself travelling, meeting new people, solidifying my relationships, going back to school, getting my PhD (which might actually be an accomplishment) getting a decent job, having a family of people who really care about me, and enjoying life with uncertainties but perhaps a little less futility. I have come to hate this sense of futility, of temporary friends and lovers, of temporary jobs, of a temporary education level, of a temporary life. Can't we just get to the point?
I feel the same way about the guys I meet at parties, in clubs, and in bars. They come up to me and say things like "can I buy you a drink?" or "do you want to dance?" or "you look unhappy, can I do something to make your evening better?" or "you're funny," or "I like your hair" or any number of mundane things. What I want them to do is just cut right to the chase. I want them to approach me and ask if they can take all my clothes off and sleep with me. Then I could say I'm not interested, knowing exactly what they're asking and exactly what I'm refusing, rather than refusing all kinds of steps in between, which will not lead them to what they're after anyway.
Perhaps one out of every fifty of these guys will actually want a relationship with me, but in my post high school experience, the sex always comes first with men. And I seem to attract all the real winners, too. It's as though I have a sign on my head saying: I HAVE NO STANDARDS. PLEASE APPROACH ME EVEN IF YOU HAVE NOTHING REMOTELY INTERESTING TO SAY.
Okay, so I'm bitter about the intoxicated guys I've been running into lately. That's a bit besides the point. But it is true that it seems like I've been accepting all kinds of preliminaries when I have no idea what the big picture is, if there even is one.
An article in the Globe about Evangelical Christians got me thinking about the meaning of life this morning. One guy who was interviewed said that faith is like driving down the highway and seeing Jesus Christ at the side of the road. And you decide that you really want Jesus in the car with you, you really NEED to have him sit next to you while you're driving. So you stop the car and open the passenger side door to let Jesus in, but instead he walks around to the other side of the car and asks you to slide over to the passenger seat so that HE can drive. And that's the meaning of life: letting Christ drive your car.
Never mind the vapid and truly frightening connotations of this analogy. Those are obvious.
But it got me thinking: I don't agree with people who say they know the meaning of life. Those Alpha courses and mega-churches and sermons and 'personal relationships' with Jesus fill me with a lot of nausea. I pretty much believe there is no overriding meaning of life. I believe that the meaning in life has to come from you -- your ability to care about what happens to you and to those around you. But I did remember a feeling I had when I first read Albert Camus' The Outsider: if there is no meaning to life, then why do anything at all? Why not just kill yourself? When I consider this closely of course, I have to take my own advice. No one can create meaning in my life except me. An absence of meaning has nothing to do with leaving Jesus at the side of the road. And an abundance of meaning has nothing to do with letting a dead carpenter who lived more than 2000 years ago take control of all the significant events and mundane details of my life. That's a lot to ask of a dead guy, even one who had the energy to resist Satan's temptations, suffer for 24 hours on a cross and then awake from the dead three days later and roll aside the big stone in front of his tomb so he could walk around yelling "Hey guys! I'm back! I've risen! Who's the man?!!!"
The fact is, I don't want Jesus in my driver's seat anymore than I want an axe-murdering hitchhiker behind the wheel of my car. In fact, I'd rather walk.
I know that only my two feet, my own heart and mind can carry me where I want to go. Now, if I only knew how to get there.
Someone toss me a roadmap. I've gotta look like I know where I'm going before Allah asks if he can carry my backpack for me.
I am also discouraged by the fact that I seem to know a lot of people who have lost their sense of meaning and don't know how to get it back. I am worried sick about my uncle who is addicted to street drugs, lost his job, left his wife and young children, and now is living who-knows-where doing who-knows-what. I just don't know how to help him, or anyone else in his position. All I do is look at photos of him lifting me in the air when I was little, and eating corn-on-the-cob with me, and teaching me about music and mathematics. All I can do is remember sharing fun times with him: playing pool, going swimming, driving on the highway in the summer, watching his kids grow up, laughing and playing and taking it all for granted. I cannot, and will not, be indifferent to his crisis. But I can't take the driver's seat for him. And neither can anyone else.
I am left with a lot of ambiguities. And it would be a lot easier if I had one BIG solution to every problem. But life doesn't work that way, and I refuse to deceive myself into thinking it does. Life is tough and at times unforgiving. Life certainly does not offer up the most important answers on a plate, garnished with pretty music and a sense of direction.
So I continue puzzling, at times overcome by the challenge. Because if I stop walking, no one will carry me.