Saturday, August 31, 2019
When I Grow Up or Expectations Run Amuk
Dreams, hopes, expectations... We all got 'em...
A friend of mine wrote me a note and she started it out with, "when I grow up..." She went on to outline what she might picture her life to be like as she grows older or perhaps what she might like it to be. Her note made me dive deeper into my own desires I held as child and through much of my adult life; comparing and contrasting those dreams with the progression of my life and the trajectory it has since taken on.
I always pictured myself owning a two story home in a downtown area of an artsy college town; some place with brick streets, architecturally pleasing homes, and delightful gardens. To some extent that happened but it didn't last...
I almost bought a beautiful Victorian home in Eureka Springs Arkansas, an artsy town nestled in the Ozark Mountains. I was also looking at that time for a home in my hometown of Springfield Missouri, just a few miles away from Eureka Springs. I ended up purchasing the home in Springfield. It was twice the home for half the price. It was sold five years later.
I always wanted to find a place where I could develop experiential continuity over the years. The kind of continuity that wears down stone steps and makes well worn paths; ones used day after day, year after year. I wanted a staircase bannister that would show the wear it had endured from a well placed hand as I descended in the mornings to spring forth on a new day. I wanted a home that shared a deep and abiding commonality of life with me, my family, and my friends. I pictured myself growing old in such a place, planting flowers, giving dinner parties, sitting on the porch, loving people, pets, and a life well lived.
Instead of realizing this dream, I spent much of my adult life moving almost every three to five years, always with good reason, forethought, and hope on the horizon. In fairness, most of my moves have been vertical moves instead of horizontal moves, often bettering my life or living conditions in some way, shape, or form.
I have never found the continuity or commonality I have been seeking...
From my earliest memories I wanted to have a little shop where every morning I would unlock my door, sweep off my stoop, turn my open sign around and go to work. As a child I didn't know what this shop might sell or entail, I just knew that it was to be. As an young adult I soon realized it would most likely be an art gallery/studio of some sort. To my credit, I've had several such places and have had a good career as a lampwork glassblower. However, like my living conditions, I've never kept a single location open longer than five years. Again, my moves were almost always vertical with better opportunities for the growth of the business and or my personal growth as a glassblower. Interestingly enough, one of them, my last gallery in Eureka Springs, really fit the daydreams I had as a child, almost exactly. I kept it for only one short year.
In the note my friend sent, she said she could picture her life with a partner or not but suggested she would like to have someone to sit on the porch with watching the sunrises and sunsets as they grew old together. I have had much the same kind of dream as does most every younger person I suppose, but to my surprise, that too has eluded me for the most part.
As much of my life has transitioned from place to place in living spaces and gallery/studios, so has my personal life. Interestingly enough, while most of my deep friendships have endured throughout my life, most of my more personal and intimate relationships have not experienced such longevity. Many of my more personal relationships, one that evolved beyond more than just friends, have lasted a few years and no more, with two exceptions, one of eighteen years and one for twelve.
Unlike my living and working environments, I wouldn't want to categorize my personal relationships in hierarchical descriptive terms such as vertical or horizontal. They have all been special, endearing, and important to me in their own ways, the ending of which, also offered unique angst, despair, and no small amount of turmoil.
I've been thinking about my reality for some time and wondering, what has prevented me from accomplishing that which I have desired so very much.
Am I fundamentally flawed?
Did I not try hard enough? Did I try too hard? Am I just never happy because of some mental deficiency, or emotional immaturity? Am I lacking in some fundamental ability or skill to obtain continuity and interpersonal longevity in my life? Am I so damaged by an abusive childhood that it is beyond my ability to stay in long term relationships with places and or lovers even though that's what I have mostly desired? Do I really self-sabotage in some sort of weird masochistic self-fulfilling prophetical way?
Or is it something entirely different?
Does some part of me instinctively know when things just aren't right for me and subconsciously rebels against my status quo dream of going along to get along? Does some part of me seek freedom at all cost, just to be free in and of itself? Like the birds I have always admired and identified with, does my yearning to fly free override my desire to gather a permanent nest? Or am I an experience junky looking for my next fix, hopping from one experience to the next collecting experiential data, sensation, and feeling: looking for the ultimately elusive nirvanic high?
Do I really think the grass is greener on the other side?
I don't think I have the answers to any of these questions but I continue to ask them of myself. I continue to try to grow in awareness of those things which have made me who I am and how they still invisibly and visibly continue to play out their own realities in my life, creating a future which all at once eludes me, surprises me, delights me, wounds me, rebuilds me, encourages me, and sustains me all at the same time.
I don't know what my future holds. I've given up trying to control it, manipulate it, and mold it, and instead I'm going along for the ride good or bad, quite literally since I've moved into a home on wheels. Maybe this has been the secret all along. Who knows?!
I do know, though, that unrealistic expectations can rob the joy from the now and so I'm trying to keep my expectations in check and enjoy that which is, instead of focusing on that which was or that which could be. I'm trying to enjoy the now. I hope you are too. Time is short. Do what you love and love what you do!