I survived the Grand Canyon. I’m going to write down my story soon in an attempt to capture what was both a very personal and a very life-changing experience for me. I equate it to taking the Bar Exam – many people take and pass that stupid fucking test every year. In a lot of ways, its the same exact story told over and over again, minor variations on a theme. But to the individual taking that test, this is their (hopefully) one story of the anguish and triumph, the experiene that encompasses and changes every aspect of their being, even if that same story is being played out a thousand times over in unison. That will be my Grand Canyon story, and it will always be one of the most important things I ever did in my life. I hope everyone who hikes that beast feels the same way.
But tonight I simply wanted to chime in with a thought that has been plaguing me all day now. Something I placed in the trash bin but never bothered to actually empty. Something that somehow made its way back onto my shelf.
I’m not a very good person.
This isn’t some cry for affection or attention, some need for an online hug. Truth is, even the best of those I know are fallible. We all make mistakes in life, and hurt people we love, and do things we will regret forever. Or neglect to do the things we should have done. It doesn’t make us bad people. It doesn’t stink of some grandiose Evil inherent in our spiritual soul. It just makes us people.
But there’s a special spot reserved for me.
This isn’t novel. This is an ongoing dilemma for me. I’m always fascinated with people who are multilingual. The thing that blows my mind is how you can know multiple languages, but fundamentally think in one language. There is a base language that your mind works in, and no matter how much French or Mandarin you pick up, the analytical self will always default to that single language. Its completely unshakable. It is so inherent to the way your brain works as to become part of the actual machinery itself. It is a part of your intellectual identity, inseparable from the self.
For me, that inherent machinery is a healthy dose of self-loathing.
This doesn’t make me unique. This is not somehow insightful for anyone else – those who know me well have seen it for years, and those reflecting on the idea see it as a binary issue: either you are inherently self-loathing, or you are not. I don’t expect many of the people I know would relate to it. Call it recognition of a pattern deep-seated, deeply ingrained from youthful traumas and missed opportunities for affirmation. A youth misspent in overachieving in the hopes of approval, trying to fix things that, while logically were never my fault or within my power to control, nonetheless felt like the effects of my causality: existence.
Here’s some perspective: in June of 2001 my mother was on a flight next to a woman who was crying. My mother asked the woman what was wrong. The woman had been dating a man of “Middle Eastern descent” for several years. The man was kind, had a lot of money, and had treated her as a queen. Then, suddenly, the man wrote her a letter, saying he could never see her again. The woman spoke of how odd it was – the man and his friends had been taking piloting lessons and none of them had jobs but all had gobs of money. And then he just disappeared – his house, where he lived with his friends, was deserted and there was no forwarding address. The woman cried and my mom thought how odd this story was – middle eastern men with lots of money, taking lessons to learn to fly.
When my mom first told me this story, she had tears in her eyes. I asked her why she was crying, and she said, “Don’t you see? If I had said something, if I had done something … I could have prevented 9-11!”
Yep. My mom believes that on some level, 9-11 was her fault.
This is the stock from which I am sprung.
I tend to overdo it with my new friends. I gush about how wonderful it is to have a new friend, how unexpected and wonderful. I know how corny it must seem, how overbearing and ridiculous. But that doesn’t make it any less true. I never expect people to like me, or to want to have me around. My closest friends can attest to how long it has taken me to stop questioning their motives in being my friend – what gains to you achieve? What possible benefit is there to having me around?
Henri disagreed with me so vehemently. He says I am so likable, so compassionate. I say I care too much about things that don’t matter, expect too much of people and then blame myself when they let me down. I sit and wait for everyone to leave.
Inevitably, they all do.
None of this matters, of course. Just smatterings and ramblings after a tough day of being me.
All of the best things I’ve written down have been quotes from someone else. But right now, my life is a whirlwind of things to love and hate, to be proud and ashamed of. I will continue as I have, the Year of Saying Yes.
I am a leaf on the wind – watch how I soar.