My past year was filled with some heavy stuff. I went through depression, which is not abnormal for me in the least. If you look back at the prevalence of depression throughout my life since I was about three years old, you would think it was one of my most favourite things ever. It's not, but there's been lots of it, and there was definitely enough of it over this past year.
Then, I also faced the ugly reality that is the trap of aging with my grandmother and my grandfather. I came to a point where I finally had to throw up my hands and admit to alcoholism. I walked away from my main social circle in order to hermit myself away from almost ten years of habitual living to quit drinking. Basically, 2010 had me me quaking in my metaphorical boots about mortality and the brevity of life while turning myself inside out both habit-wise and socially.
I had to think and feel and do things that were hard for me to think and feel and do, and I felt like I was pulling out my own teeth a lot of the time. Somehow, though, this turned 2010 into one of the best years of my life. It really did.
There is a lot of positive-thinking noise about learning how to say Yes! to things in your life, but saying Yes! is often best done by judiciously and sometimes painfully say No!, and 2010 was the year in which I said No! a lot every day so that I had the ability to say Yes! in other areas.
Some Pollyanna out there is going to pop up and try to tell me that all those No!s were really Yes!ses in disguise, and to that person I say Screw you. Those No!s were No!s, and I know, because they were hard and awful and dragged me through the mud face down, and that mud had rocks in it, and it was rainy, and it was cold, too, and I had a really shitty time of it. I love those No!s, though. I claim them. They made me.
Anyway, I was lying in bed this morning reflecting on the mindfuck that was 2010 and wondering what it meant that I pretty much just walked away from a whole life, and what it meant for me that I once left a fiancee and did all kinds of drugs and had a doomed love affair and suffered life in the closet and was diagnosed with all manner of psychological illnesses in the 1990s and became an alcoholic and quit my office job for no job and had cancer and on and on and on as all the crazy stuff life throws at a person is wont to just keep happening.
Instead of falling into my usual thinking about how there is no point to anything if it always just comes back to being terrible, though, I was lying here thinking about how fantastic all that shit was, because here I am.
My mother once said to me "Why are you alway jumping from the frying pan into the fire when you shouldn't even be in the frying pan in the first place?" There was this straight and narrow existence that she wanted me to live, because she naturally wanted me to be safe and happy, but that seemed like the worst kind of life for me to have. I've always thought that I had one time to do this in this skin with this brain, and I had better pack a lot of stuff up there.
I thought then, and I still do, that the frying pan is an excellent position in which to find oneself.
See, you're born, which is that little star there.
Yes, you were born a star. It's a little obvious, but it's true.
And then you started living. It wasn't very exciting in some ways, because most of it had to do with the basics of keeping you alive, and you had very little physical freedom to express your will.
But then stuff started getting exciting. Your parents divorced or someone touched you in a bad way or you broke your leg and got stuck in a cast for six months or your cat Fluffster was run over with a lawn mower or something.
You stopped being an individual with one forward path afterwards. Bits of you leapt off and explored this or that avenue while the larger changed part of you landed and established itself, only to have big things happen to you again, because you are only in one little body travelling in a huge universe bent on cataclysms.
The universe is very big, so the stuff it does is bound to be life-changing a lot of the time.
And on and on it goes, over and over, until your life looks kind of like this, at least when I draw it.
And here you find yourself full of stories and events. Bits of yourself speak to you from your past about what happened then, and the you of now speaks to those stories about how they sit in the context of all that has happened since, and you become a powder keg of stories informing stories.
My drawings are a little crude, but you get my meaning.
You don't have to be a writer or a storyteller of any kind. You are made of stories all the way down to that little star at the beginning, anyway, whether you want to be or not. You can't help but be that way.
It's brilliant, really. It's really fucking brilliant.
So, again, as I was lying here in bed this morning thinking about the thousands of things that have happened to me while I have been jumping in and out of a variety of frying pans, I realized that I am a bright constellation of my own stories. I am mapping my universe with each new step.
It was an incredible thought. It brought all the little exploded mes together under one roof and said We all belong together, because they all exist the way they do because of their interconnectedness, and if you extrapolate from that it becomes not only We all belong together but also I belong to myself.
I belong to myself.
It feels so revolutionary to belong to myself, not to be an almagamation of parts I could take or leave or love or hate as separate beings artificially cordoned off into falsely boundaried periods of time but to be this person whole, an indivisible unit of infinite selves, an exhaustive universe of one.
My life has been a series of frying pans and fires, and I would jump into them again and again and again, because the constellation of my life narrative would never want for less.