April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us
–TS Eliot, The Waste Land
I’ve made it through March. Some of it was pretty crappy (although it certainly had glimmers of goodness), and yet here I am. I’m tired and I have to keep going when I just want to find a quiet corner and rest, and I can’t see far enough to know when I’ll have time to just breathe, but March is a lock. But then, the reward for getting to April is, well, April. And I’m not feeling so confident about that. What I want to do and what I should do and what I can do and what I have to do are all swirling around in my mind and I have a likely suspicion they’ll all come crashing down around me come April.
But when I say I don’t know if I can make it through, of course I can make it through. We can get through anything, right? And my God am I a whiny baby. I am experiencing normal, everyday life. I have no crisis I just can’t face, no unsurmountable obstacle. I’m not alone and friendless and living under a bridge. Just losing a little confidence. I’m just on one of those paths that start out paved and smooth and end up winding through woods and turning to gravel, then dirt, then overgrown with grass, until you’re surrounded by trees and you’re not sure where the path went. But that’s why life is an adventure, and you just keep exploring until you get somewhere. I know all of this. This is life. And it’s good and it’s bad and it’s joy and pain and uncertainty and you doubt yourself and you have all the faith in the world and you know exactly what you need and you don’t know anything at all and it’s all life. And we all stumble our way through. And along the way I’ve experienced unexpected joys I would never have known had the path remained straight. When you lose the path, you gain the chance to discover. And what is life without that?
Sometimes, I imagine that worst thing that could happen. Like, I’ll think, what if I was suddenly diagnosed with some terrible disease and I was going to die soon and there was nothing I could do about it and I had to live with the knowledge of my impending death as I slowly withered away? It could happen, right? Happens all the time, why not to me?
Or I’ll be driving down the freeway and think about a car could just plow right into me and knock me off the road and I could be crushed to death in a moment.
Funny how all my worst-case scenarios are about bad things happening to me. I don’t think it’s that, really. I think it’s more than I don’t want to consider the real worst cases, especially since they are things that will happen.
I saw my grandparents recently. It’s wonderful and sad to see them. They have been the one stable thing in my life, ever since I can remember when I was two years old and living with them. They’re getting older, a lot older. They still get around on their own and are as sharp as ever, but they’re clearly aging. We all age. I will age that way one day. (I know, selfishly back to me again.) Our bodies slowly fail us and we can see the inevitable. How do you cope with that? I don’t know that you really can. I know it’s what keeps me anxious, always feeling like I don’t have enough time, that all the time in the world can’t possibly be enough, is only a moment, will be gone, and I can’t keep it, can’t grasp it in my hands and hold it tight. It slips away from me like sand, like water, like air.
I keep getting email notifications of coworkers planning vacations. A week, two weeks, a month. I think, it’s so easy. They schedule the time and they go. Why can’t I do that? But I can’t. I can’t fathom it — adding to the overwhelming avalanche of work and life by pausing the juggling act while more plates fall. I was at the grocery store today and they had all the spring flowers out for sale. I don’t like jewelry and flowers. But sometimes I do. Or I wish I had time to be the kind of person that did.
But, of course, April’s cruelty has nothing to do with not being able to take vacation or enjoy spring. It’s that melting of the forgetful snow. It’s the part of my soul that reads fortune cookies facing my practical center. It’s the whiny child inside me meeting the somewhat more grown-up me and learning the lyrics to Rolling Stones songs. You can’t always get what you want. And if you don’t know what you need, you just keep exploring. You’ll find a path eventually.
It’s the weight of making decisions when you don’t know which way to go. Decisions seem so permanent, even though I’ve seen time and time again that it isn’t so. I agonized so much in high school about my classes, my extracurricular activities. This will determine college. Which will determine career. Which will determine my future. Only it didn’t. And I know, I know that I can’t know the future. And that things always change. And that sometimes you make decisions and sometimes you later change course and some decisions you don’t have to make right this minute and you can keep going day by day.
And it’s dealing with the realities of life. Of sometimes not having any control at all, but knowing that you have just play the hand you’re dealt. Of gracefully handling the consequences of your choices.
Or maybe it’s just that I should just stop reading poetry. I sure as hell am not reading all that crap Robert Frost wrote about taking the road less traveled by. What the fuck does that even mean, anyway? I mean sure, I get the whole sorry I could not travel both and be one traveler thing. I get the telling ages later with a sigh. And the saving one path until later, while doubting you’ll be back. And never mind. Enough with the poetry already. I have to go now. I need to stop by the library and get some nice non-fiction about aerodynamics or something.