I was watching the first 20 minutes or so of ‘Jerry Maguire’ on TV and it made me feel like writing. Stories like that always do, don’t they? Inspirational ones about people who do something different, face challenges and then overcome them. This was yesterday. The minute I turned the TV off and switched my computer on though, the magic was lost. I tried it again today, watching that same segment. It worked again. And now, with the TV off and comp on, I’m feeling that magical feeling start to evaporate again.
Here’s the thing. I’ve felt that thing he talks about, just before he starts writing the memo/mission statement that changes his life. I think most of us have felt it in our 20s.
“I didn’t like my place in the world.”
Being successful appears inevitably to mean being part of someone else’s dream, some thing that doesn’t drive you, something that involves putting your head down, shutting your heart and soul and just doing. No wonder it’s inspiring when you watch someone else break free of it, even if it is a fictitious character.
I felt it too. That sinking feeling that I couldn’t ever explain and no one would understand (actually nobody around me wanted to). People don’t like hearing that you’re unhappy with your life because it reminds them that they’re unhappy with theirs too. People don’t want you to break the order because it forces them to acknowledge that there’s a world outside the order and that they’re deliberately blindsiding themselves and others.
Breaking free is always liberating and there is the dream of ‘I’ll show you all’ to spur you on. Yes, I said that. There are vestiges of vindictiveness and competitiveness even in these breaking free moments, no matter how much their practitioners may deny it. I’ve been there and I would’ve denied it then too but I don’t need to, now.
What happens when that is complete though? That’s the part no one ever tells you about. Fairytales never talk about what happens in ‘happily ever after’. When I wonder what I can talk about that hasn’t been said, here I have it. Let me tell you what comes next or alternatively, I can’t decide.
This has been a challenging month at the end of a very difficult year. Between frozen shoulder, daily headaches, crippling stomach cramps and the sniffles, the shortest month has thrown me a hard one every week. I can’t stop thinking about Gautam’s observation that it’s all psychosomatic. The wounds of the past three years journey are starting to show and slow me down, wear me down.
Have I proven all that I set out to prove? Have I achieved that elusive happiness? I don’t know, I don’t seem to know anything anymore. The book did get written and it’s nowhere as great as I hoped it would be. It’s not appalling, it’s just not great and somehow that’s worse – living on the median. We all want drama in our life; we want to be grand flourishes rather than plain old dots and dashes. It was liberating, being independent of the corporate yoke till it became a shackle of another kind. And relationships? They’ve been even more disappointing and hurtful.
I find myself at a strange place of emptiness now. No dreams, no direction, no role models, no great pride in myself, no major shame either. Nothing, nothing, nothing to spur me on. The downside (and this is a HUGE one) of following your dream is that it leaves you with nothing at the end of it except thousands of breaths to be taken, that you don’t know what to do with. The funny thing is, this is where I thought I’d be, if I didn’t get out of the plastic drone world fast. I did get out of it to follow my dream and look what happened – it brought me to the exact same place.
I’ll soon be 34, an age that does not sound good to me. I could pass for someone much younger, if, if only I could bring myself to care enough. But to what avail? All that will do is attract a younger man and the problems of a younger lot, all to a body and a life that feels older, more careworn. My life stretches on before me like a near infinite emptiness. And no, this time round, that does not inspire me. Yes, this happens.