You Move With You

Shit you not. I talk to my rabbit now. I tend to prefer affirmations of his furriness since his personality overall kind of sucks. Usually they sound a bit like,

“Way to by furry Guinness! you are doing a fantastic job of being furry. Here is a treat you rascal.” Then he hops into a corner and scowls at me.

This is what solitude does to you. I envy the bunny his clear inability to give a shit about anything other than dried cranberries.

It’s funny how moving has always allowed me to develop this bizarre narrative about how, “This time I am going to be different.” It’s like getting in the car and driving is somehow supposed to leave all of the hard parts of your personality in the destination that you just departed sticking out a thumb with a worn suitcase on the side of a deserted road elsewhere. It never seems to play out that way. The shitty attitude that you had about everything is in the car with all of the boxes. 

It’s not that I don’t have tools to fight the bastard part of myself, it’s just that I get worn out right in the middle of trying to figure out how all of the basic life stuff works now. How do you get to the grocery store in a town that has literally no grid system and really poor street markings? It’s remarkably exhausting because your brain has to work at everything that was second-nature before and moral fortitude, patience, and kindness leave when energy runs out.

So I try to avoid the hard stuff in all of the ways that I try to avoid hard stuff. I watch movies, think about making a painting with the canvas that I just stretched, think about all of the things that may or may not be difficult with my marriage in the near future, and I drink beer. Basically anything that accomplishes nothing whatsoever. Navel-gazing contemplative bullshit avoidance strategies. Anything to avoid being here rooted in the nowness of having to run to the grocery store or figure out what the hell to cook for dinner after not having cooked for myself for the past year.

Learning to care for yourself is hard when you are alone. It’s just more complicated to fit another person into your life when you are selfish. As hard as I try I seem to miss really basic things. So I try to do the little borderline inconsequential shit. I can cook. I can ask if you want a cup of water. 

Taking care of other people is boring. There isn’t much glory in it, or the beauty in it is really hard to attribute back to some kind of remarkable performance on my part. What I really want is the credit for being good and I want that much more than I would like to actually live out some less tangible form of good. I want details for the ego resume. If I could be successful in some measurable way that would be perfect, but it doesn’t seem like Jesus is interested in the performance that we count as important.

I think that this is part of my major struggle with the church. I struggle with understanding where all of the feel good overwhelming positivity is coming from all of the time. In church we mostly pretend like we didn’t just have a shit day or, if we did we write it off like it wasn’t hard with an off-handed comment like, “first world problems.” Fuck…yeah, but they are your problems. Let them be problems. Talk about them like they can exist along with the good so that I don’t feel like such an asshole when my marriage is difficult. Give me permission to be weak so that we can love one another as the people that we are rather than the people that we wish that we were. Those people only exist in our head.

See that’s the funny thing about honesty is that it gives other people permission to be needy on the days that they aren’t exactly feeling like Captain America. Other living human beings are not my pet bunny and dried cranberries or bullshit affirmations about how my life feels pretty okay are not going to cut it. So I have no choice but to try to work the hard stuff back into the dialog and to let people walk away if that’s scary. The problem is that being honest is scary and really hard to do when it’s easier just to feed everyone dried cranberries of bullshit. As much as I hate the game, I play it when I’m scared and then hate people for letting me get away with it even though it is not their job to fix my shit.

“The Christian way of life does not take away our loneliness; it protects it and cherishes it as a precious gift…The wound of our loneliness is indeed deep. Maybe we had forgotten it since there were so many distractions. But our failure to change the world with our good intentions and sincere actions and our undesired displacement to the edges of life have made us aware that the wound is still there…a deep understanding of our own pain makes it possible to convert our weakness into strength and to offer our experiences as a source of healing to those who are often lost in the darkness of their own misunderstood sufferings.” – Henri Nouwen

So here I am displaced to the edge of a new coastal life, but I suppose I have company out here and it’s good to begin to understand that I can cook or “do you want a cup of water” are sometimes the only damn thing we have to offer, inconsequential yet remarkable creatures that we are. The simple stuff without any attributable ego points might be a good place to try to live from for the time being. The route into suffering and experience tends to look decidedly unglamorous and grace lends heaping praise to those things that are discarded as mundane.

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