Disappointment is an inevitable part of life. The sooner that can be accepted, the better off we will all be. I don't say this to be pessimistic or morbid, I say it as part of a hard fact of life that is continually reinforced. The trick to the acceptance lies in one of my favorite quotes, via the Dali Lama: "Why be unhappy about something if it can be remedied? And what is the use of being unhappy if it cannot be remedied?"
People come and go from our lives on a routine basis. Most of our interactions are fleeting, leaving little to no trace, of minor consequence. Every now and again you meet someone who you hope sticks around, to become a friend, to become an influence. Once in every blue moon you meet someone who changes the course of your life in profound and far reaching ways. It is impossible to realize how much they mean until they have exited.
I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Thinking about how it is hard appreciate things in the moment until they are taken away from you. I've been re-reading Michael Azerrad's seminal book on the indie punk movement of the early 80's, Our Band Could Be Your Life. The chapter that has been on my mind covers the history of the band The Minuteman. From their rise and influence on the west coast indie music scene; to their untimely and tragic end, when singer D. Boon died in a car accident.
In Azerrad's book, and in bassist Mike Watt's subsequent music, you can feel the pain felt by Boon's sudden absence. It is palpable. The sense of sheer surprise at both his passing, and subsequent realization by Watt of the the monumental influence that Boon had on him. There were moments of tenderness before he passed, where Watt and Boon both acknowledge their brotherhood through friendship, but it is not until after Boon is gone that Watt realizes their deeper connection, and the possibility that part of himself, part of his soul, is gone from this world.
(Note: In coincidence, Hüsker Dü's Grant Hart, also profiled in Our band..., sadly passed yesterday.)
I have heard the twin and contradictory sentiments that "time heals all wounds", and that this feeling of loss never really passes, more times than I can count. I can tell you that time heals some, but not all wounds, and that yes, the feelings of loss and tragedy don't ever really pass. There is the day-to-day and long term part of me that knows that this is reality, that is ready to laugh and live, that is ready to be in the moment again. There is another part of me that will always feel that pang of sadness and regret. Trying to extinguish the part that feels the sadness is not possible. Nor is it something I want to try to extinguish. The more you try to push it out the stronger it gets, because pushing it away means trying to forget and forgetting is something I will never do.
I bring all of this up because I believe that we all have the ability to heal ourselves and be optimistic about the future. I have been through hell this past year, but I refuse to let that define me, and I am refusing to let other people use it as a way to define me. As a result, I am working my way back. I will always have a part of my soul missing. Like Watt, I will also carry a torch. But that does not mean I cannot have a second act, that does not mean I forget who and where I come from, nor does it mean that I don't have the capacity to grow from this time and this place.
If you've followed the blog at any point over these past 14 months, you've probably noticed that I have been taking significant amounts of time away from it. This is intentional. Nothing works forever, and I've found that sometimes the blog just isn't helpful. I've also had a few people use it to try to define me, to say "gosh, he seems like he's doing well." or "gosh, he can't possibly do that, he's still grieving". All I can say to this is nobody is as one-dimensional as what they write on the internet. Nor is anyone as one-dimensional as generic advice taken from the internet and applied to a specific. Take the time to know yourself before you pass judgement on somebody else. Don't let anyone put you in a box because "so-and-so" is an expert and says this is what you must be going through.
Nobody gets to decide how you live your life but you. Nobody gets to define your happiness for you. Nobody is defined solely by a motivational internet meme. Think for yourself. Add some nuance and color to your life. Get out of the house and live. There is nothing wrong with you that can't be overcome. Get back up and keep fighting. Take the hard knocks with love and understanding. That is the root of living with joy.
The decision to live each day on our own terms is entirely ours.