Friday, July 4, 2008

To Lead a Normal Life...

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

~~Robert Frost, from "The Road Less Traveled"

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have had a “normal” life. To have grown up with parents who weren’t involved in a cult. To have had birthdays and Christmas and Halloween like other kids. To have not had to stand out in the hallway during the playing of O’Canada every morning at school. To have gone to school dances and prom and kissed boys and dated and explored masturbation and sex during the normal stages of development. To have not had to “prayerfully consider” every minute detail of my life; my choice of entertainment, clothing, grooming, friends, life course. To have learned to trust in my own abilities rather than cult dictates. I wonder what it would have been like to grow up thinking I was worth something just as I am.

I wonder what it would have been like to go to University out of High School, to have continued on with my peers into higher education. I wonder what it would have been like to have actually let people into my life, people of all backgrounds, without seeing them as a mortal threat to my faith. I wonder what it would have been like to be close with my extended family, to attend family celebrations, rather than being the outsider, keeping myself “separate from the world”.

I wonder what it would have been like to get married because of love, not because of a deep desire for sex and connection, having been denied them for so long for religious reasons. I wonder what it would have been like to be taught how to think instead of what to think. To have learned basic life skills like logic and decision-making, rather than faith and wishful thinking. I wonder what it would have been like to have a heart full of joyful childhood memories, rather than a smattering of bittersweet wounds.

I wonder what it would have been like to grow up with a mother who mirrored for me what a strong woman was all about. Who I could emulate from a place of respect. A woman who could best show me who I was and how to move in the world. I wonder what my life would be like if my earliest memories were not of despair and grief and suicide. I wonder what my life would look like if things had progressed in chronological order, if I’d had the normal stages of development at the normal times in my life. If my growth hadn’t been stunted by depression and illness and cult indoctrination. I wonder who I’d be now. I wonder if I’d like that woman. And I wonder if she’d like me.

tall penguin

9 comments:

mike said...

Well, I don't know what that person would be like, but this one seems pretty cool.

tall penguin said...

Thanks Mike. Ya, I think she's pretty cool too. :)

Just sitting with grief today. It usually sets in after speaking with my mother. It is what it is.

jdbartlett said...

Counter-quote:

"Perhaps my best years are gone, but I wouldn't want them back, not with the fire in me now."
-Samuel Beckett

I'm not really into Beckett. I couldn't even tell you what play that's from. But I found it on the inlay of a Manic Street Preachers single I bought as a teenager, and never forgot it. It's a good line.

It's easy to obsess over what could've happened. We'll often want to redo the past with knowledge of the present, or to relive younger years differently. In daydreams, we fix former deeds to avoid some present situation, while neglecting solutions available now.

Your fire is inextricable from the present. It burns into the future, not the past. And if you go, your fire burns on in the lives you've touched.

(Also, fire melts ice, which should help you navigate more safely around those crossroads. Just make sure you keep looking forwards, or you'll miss the sights of the city, and possibly some great turnings.

Yes, I'm a dork. I know.)

tall penguin said...

Hey jd, nah I don't want the past to be any different. I just wonder about it sometimes. I like to play with the idea of parallel universes. To think maybe there's a million other variations of me leading very different lives. It's an exercise in possibility just as much as it is a lesson in grief and letting go.

And no, you're not a dork. :)

Alice said...

I love your blog. You're probably the most introspective person I've read around the blogosphere. I sometimes wish I was more like that rather than the Scarlett O'Hara-I'll-think-about-it-tomorrow way that I generally operate. I feel I should just give you a big you-go-girl! ; )

Tammie said...

i often wonder these same things about myself.
i try not to think about it. i try to just go forward. it gets hard though.

Rich Beckman said...

I used to do that. Wonder what it would've been like if this was different or that was different..

Wouldn't it be cool to wake up tomorrow and find out I'm still fourteen with a chance to do it differently than I dreamed it.

But then I met my wife and we fell in love. Now waking up to be fourteen again would be a nightmare. What if I did some little thing differently from how it was in the dream? What if that little change means I never meet her?

But I did!

Things work out when you stay open to them.

tall penguin said...

"I love your blog. You're probably the most introspective person I've read around the blogosphere."

Thank you alice. These words touched my heart.

"I sometimes wish I was more like that rather than the Scarlett O'Hara-I'll-think-about-it-tomorrow way that I generally operate."

Nah, you are perfect just as you are. And your blog is too. :)

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