It has officially been more than a year since I posted to my blog here. I suppose in the blogging world, that is pretty much a dead blog. But, zombie-like, here I am again one more time, thinking out loud on my keyboard.
Perhaps, in a sense, this is a metaphor of sorts. Although it’s been a rather long time, internet-wise, since I ruminated on whether to delete this blog from existence (except, perhaps, from the internet wayback machine), every now and again I will come back to that semi-intention. The difference this past year, however, is that I’ve not even gone to the blog, so clicking on the nuke button was never an option. Is it a time to let go of the old?
The movie Frozen has forever ruined the phrase “let it go” for me–my daughters’ passionate love for the movie notwithstanding–but that sort of thing (letting go) has been on my mind a lot of late.
And here I am on the hinge of two calendar years. I chuckle at the cynics who pooh-pooh New Year’s resolutions and hipster-like sniff and hold themselves above the hoi polloi. But I get it. How many goals have I set, whether at New Year’s beginning or any other time and failed to follow through? Thank you, cynics, for your derision and compassion. But I get it. As a philosopher (of middling ability) I can opine with the hipster cynics about the arbitrary nature of time and calendars and free will and magical thinking. But here’s the thing: just go with it.
In many ways, the past year for me was an incredible time of blessing and increase. My job is a real blessing, and by grace and good work I have been able to do well. I took risks, failed and succeeded, and was supported and encouraged through it all. I continued to learn the craft of writing as well as learn things about myself as a writer. I had a personal record for most consecutive days writing, and what consistency looks like, as well as what doesn’t work well for me. Although my personal family situation is marked by the challenges of divorce, I feel as though my relationship with my daughters has grown and improved. Many barriers were torn down that made it hard for me to be involved in my daughters’ lives and I was able to do lunches at school with my girls and to get to their programs. They’re getting older and it is so wonderful to experience the changes and maturing of our relationship. They will always be to me the little pixies they were at 3 and 5, but I also realize they are also becoming, pardon the phrase, little women. And my amazing, wonderful little Orthodox parish out in the country continues to minister to and to heal my daughters and me. In the past few months I have been blessed to be allowed to help in the altar during the Divine Liturgy. I always come away with the feeling “You had one job . . .”–which is to light candles, and I make so many mistakes in so doing. Who knew candle-lighting can be so fraught with mistakes? But for one who has spent years reading philosophy and theology, it supplies the proper amount of humbling (humiliation?) so necessary for a failed academic.
But it was not a year apart from hurt and sorrow, either. A public blogpost like this is no place to rehearse those details. But the experiences of those piercings and pains have served their purpose (though I have no doubt there are more such purposes which they will serve). They have focused my attention and shoved me beneath the superficiality with which we are so often and sadly satisfied. I have been forced, pardon the vulgarity, to deal with shit, especially my shit. This is a lifelong project, of course, but there were things needing attention and I was avoiding doing so. Some of those were personal. Some interpersonal. It was in some cases, a year-long coming to myself amidst the pigslop and swine of the messes I had made and in which I had participated.
So here I am. It is the second day of the new year. I have spent the last couple of months revisiting old goals and dreams and wants that I have had. I have attempted to get to the bottom of why some goals, dreams and wants I have had continue to show up in the list each year because they continue to fail to be accomplished, come true or be satisfied. Why do I fail to complete my novel? Why do I fail to get to my ultimate health and fitness goals? Why do I continue relationship habits that are inherently self-defeating? For some time, on many of these things, I’ve simply not opened the door to the darkened closet. I didn’t want to look within. But I forced myself to confront those phantasms. I got past the glittering images and saw the wounds that I was dealing with by self-medicating with other snake oil and cure-all tonics for the soul.
As a tangent that will come back round to the point, I have found it fascinating, when reconnecting with friends from my high school and college years, to hear their stories, experiences and views of who they thought I was at that time. I have classed and categorized myself in various ways that were so different from how they have expressed their impressions of me. From the time I have conscious memories, I have felt a permanent inability to measure up, a permanent vacuum of inadequacy. (I’ll let the Freuds and Dr Phils have fun with that.) Not surprisingly, I can be very determined and dogged in pursuing a specific course, in “proving” myself. But what I think is the case, having stirred the muck in the past couple of months, is that the things that have the most meaning and value to me are the very areas in which I have serial failure and painful experiences. Aha?
This is, no doubt, more personal self-disclosure than is publicly warranted. And such things are excellent weapons for those of ill will to use for their ill purposes. But what that means for the coming year is that my goals, resolutions, intentions, what have you, for the days ahead are less about achieving specific targets and more about cultivating restoration. That is inevitably going to be interpersonal, which means it will be about relationships. And it will also inevitably mean letting go. Some things are going to have to die. And they will stay dead. Some things will have to die because it is the only way they will live.
Relationships are the damnedest things. They are the sources of our worst injuries and permanent scars. They are also, frustratingly, frighteningly, the only way we can be restored and healed. Relationships have been the sources and roots of the harms that have kept me from those connections that empower and renew. I want to be the kind of father my daughters need. I want to be the kind of brother that my sisters can turn to, and to enjoy a closer relationship with them than geography has allowed. I want to be that good son. I want to be that friend upon which others can depend, that friend that sharpens and comes alongside. I want to be that man a woman can be safe with, can trust, and can know that her relationship with me will serve to enable her to fulfill the beauty that God intends for her, to be that good husband.
There is no due date one can put on these things. Though there are certainly various things one must do. May this year bring restoration, and, if God allows, the fulfillment of some of my long-held hopes.