at what expense, then, this

One thing about getting older is that you learn what words mean. When you’re younger, you read dictionaries and hear definitions and use them in sentences — a childhood full of spelling bees. But you can’t ask to experience a word in a spelling bee. You just have to wait for it to happen to you.

And then one day, you know what a word like bittersweet really means and you wonder when it last was that you felt pure happiness without feeling anything else along with it. That childlike feeling of joy that doesn’t come with the knowledge it will end or the weight of being held in the balance — at what expense, then, this? The knowing that choosing one path is closing the door on another.

You can open yourself up for that kind of joy, but. The downside of letting down your defenses is that you’re unprotected from the pain. That moment comes at a price.

I keep starting over again and I don’t know if I can’t hold on to anything that matters or if moving on is all I know how to do or if I don’t have the strength to stay when I feel battered.

I remember that time in college when I felt like such a failure because I couldn’t make lattes or decorate cakes. But failing at those things was the best thing that could have happened to me.

I look back and see a lifetime of failures, but life isn’t about not failing. I failed at my marriage and I’ve failed at jobs and sometimes I fail at making it through the day without doubting myself. But every failure is movement in another direction, maybe a better direction. Maybe just different. Every movement is a bittersweet moment. At what expense, then, this. I always wanted to be perfect. Now all I want is moments of that childlike joy.

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