|Illustration by Shaun Tan.|
The thought that landed on me as I left an art project in the glue-drying stage was this: what if all that we feel is most shameful, unacceptable, unwelcome, self-destructive and just ewwwwwww about ourselves is THE thing that somehow managed to keep us here so that we could grow into the people we were meant to become, people who have more than a vague sense why we are here? Yes, I think and talk to myself in rambling, run-on sentences.
Some of us, and I count myself among them/us, once found human existence more than we thought we could bear. Depression was diagnosed but inefficiently treated and its poisonous swamp gas continued to swirl for years, decades, adding to the sense of despair and, mostly, of having done everything wrong. Apathy and addictions do not enhance self-esteem. One addiction, even two or three, faced down and surrendered still leaves the bunkhouse crowded with shifty layabouts. Will I ever meet a shortbread cookie I don't like? At least for me a combination of flattening medications and advancing age have kept me from continuing to take up with men with whom I, perhaps, ought not to have taken up. But here is what I ponder. What if the cookies and other foodstuffs that do not promote optimal health and what if the drama and sometimes danger of unsuitable companions blunted the pain just enough to make it possible to go on when without them I wouldn't still be here? That could be true, couldn't it? What if those sources of seemingly enduring shame were actually gifts, temporary life preservers, not intended to be used forever but only until no longer needed?
I feel that I'm approaching a crossroads, or maybe it is a summit, after which I and my path will no longer look the same. I have been coming to it, at it, for some time, in the growing company of writing and art and love. There is so much I want to do, so much about what I do that fills me with awe at my good fortune. And that's with various, let us call them limitations. I can imagine what all this would be like with restored or at least enhanced strength, vitality, agility and options. I absolutely believe, whatever IT is, it takes as long as it takes. A great benevolent hand has gotten me this far. How much easier its job if it didn't have to carry quite as much of me, if I could get back to something more identifiable as self-propulsion.
To see shortcomings not as failures but as training wheels, part of the process of becoming, necessary until they're not, what a revelation that would be. I am still, in a way, thinking out loud in answer to my question. I feel there is truth in it, not just an easy out for not yet having become entirely moderate and sensible and consistent. I may never be all of those at the same time or I may. I didn't believe I could do many of the things that are now part of me. Yes, I expect miracles. I have experienced too many to stop now.