“It’s always tomorrow somewhere.”
I found myself with some extra time today. I didn’t really like going for walks, but I convinced myself I don’t have anything better to do. Besides, I’ve been working hard and should relax. It was mid-afternoon and the weather was perfect, or at least how I like it. The temperature was warm, with a very high, thin layer of cloud cover that diffused the bright sunlight.
I came upon a park. It was a large grass field with a circular path around it and people from all walks of life. This park just so happened to sit on the top of a large hill. It was called “Reservoir Park,” probably because of the giant water tank fixed maybe 50 feet above the ground, giving life to thousands of houses below.
I started walking counter-clockwise around the park and noticed a familiar looking view. I’d never seen this particular view before, but I recognized it because it looked out over where I grew up. I stopped and stared out at the hill I grew up on. I used to venture into the woods and climb up a tree high enough so I could stare out into the future, unknowingly looking out to where I was standing today, into a mirror with no reflection. I tried to think about everything that’s happened between then and now, all the success, all the heartbreak, everything that’s gotten me to this point so far and changed me from who I was into who I am, but I couldn’t. Nothing came to mind.
From the outside I’d assume that this would be great cause for concern, or should at least worry me in some sense, but I wasn’t even aware that nothing came to mind (funny how minds work). I wasn’t void of memories, but I was remembering, only instead of thoughts coming to mind it was purely feelings coming to heart; the joy, the pain, the love, the longing. I stayed in that moment for quite some time, and after I began to continue my walk I realized I indeed have grown since a child staring out from the tree tops. Never once growing up did I assume I would end up so close to my original home (at least so far). I always had some lofty goal that I would be extremely successful in whatever I did and move far away to somewhere better, some mystical land, wherever that was. But that was before I came out of the woods and went out to live my life. It’s easy to dream when everything looks so open.
Possibly the most important growth that I have experienced is an emotional one. It may seem super simple for some, but I have always been a logical person, using reasoning, knowledge, and whatever else I could prove or validate in order to come to any conclusion. ‘Emotions’ have not been easy for me. I’d get happy and sad like everyone else, but I never got too attached to anything, and would never say, “I’ve got a feeling about this…” Emotions have more or less been a reaction or side effect, so for me a purely emotional response to something is quite amazing, awakening, and somewhat of a miracle. If I can simply look at a view and feel such a wide range and depth of emotions, then that’s amazing. What good are thoughts and circumstances if we don’t feel anything? Every time I asked myself “what do I want to do with my life?” I’ll come up with an answer, and then ask myself, “why?” I’ll do that a few times and it always boils down to something along the lines of “I want to feel happy, feel good, feel loved,” and a big part of that is making others feel loved as well.
I completed my circular walk and looked back across the park to where I stood saw the view, and I couldn’t see it anymore from where I was standing. The trees hid the view from the street, and I noticed if I hadn’t first chosen, logically, to go on this walk, then I would not have ever seen that view, that narrow window into the past. Of course it’s easy to see now, but how many other opportunities like this have I missed? In how many other ways am I still looking out from the trees, waiting to see a reflection?
“Guidelines are for people who don’t know what they really want.”
I need your advice
How do you say no without disappointing someone.
There’s got to be some way — I’ve seen people do it.
Ok, but do they actually say “no,” or are they just sliding out of it and not claiming responsibility for saying no, or are they just giving themselves an opportunity to be at a safe distance first?
You can’t really tell someone “no” and not disappoint them, it’s just whether or not you respect them, and yourself, enough to tell them “no” without any window dressing. Saying anything else that hints at “no” is just delaying the inevitable. Sure, they’ll be disappointed, but you are saying “don’t be disappointed now; wait until I’m gone.” And that’s how relationships are ruined, because then you give yourself distance between you and that person, knowing that the farther away from them, the more comfortable you feel. But what you didn’t realize is that the closer you are to them, the more uncomfortable you feel, so when you think about connecting with them again you start to feel uncomfortable, and when, or even if, you are around them again it just feels weird. All because you couldn’t just say no in the first place. I’m not just talking romantic relationships either; any relationship where two people are involved. And what you didn’t realize is that you now have taught yourself the closer you are to that person, the more uncomfortable you feel.
I kind of get it. I mean, I’ve always gotten that concept, but for some reason I just keep falling in the same trap. Like, it doesn’t matter that I know junk food is bad for me; I keep eating it.
you treat other people the way that you want to be treated. You don’t want to hurt them, but you have to think about the long term. That’s what makes a good leader; for others to follow, and for yourself to follow. How would you like it if someone led you on and dragged you down a rocky path before finally letting go?
I hate it.
Okay… Well you need to see that. It takes bravery and courage to tell someone “no,” and to know that you most likely will disappoint them in the short term, but it is, without a doubt, better in the long run. It always is.
Time heals all wounds, right?
Yup. It’s not a race, but it never hurts to get a head start.
Art is so pointless sometimes. Don’t you think with all the thinking that artists have done over the years that we would have figured out the meaning of life by now?
You know what I think about the meaning of life?
Why would God create us if we are going to die? But not really even that. Why would God create us with the capacity of knowing we’re going to die? Why couldn’t he just have made us live forever? Or at least make us unaware of what death is? That’d save me a lot of trouble. I’d be happy. But you know what? Have you ever seen anything amazing come from an ignorant creature? I don’t think so. Ignorance isn’t bliss, because without knowing what dark is you can’t know what light is. Without down there’s no up. It’s like explaining color to a blind person. Live forever? That’s not the way to go. It’s in the struggle, the fight of knowing that we are going to die, and having the choice to give it our all and fight, and fight, and scrape and crawl and bleed; fight until there is nothing left in us, until we are everything we wanted to be, or become everything we hate, until we see the light and release our last breath saying, “That was all of me. That was everything. That was my magnum opus.” It is that fight that brings out the worst in us, the absolute worst of desperation, greed, malice, jealousy, and wrath. And it is that same fight that we can triumph, love, heal, conquer and live. LIVE. Really live… and that’s what makes it worth it. That’s what makes life worth living. That’s why we are alive. That’s why we were created. But do no mistake the possibility of life with real life. Do not mistake defeat for death, and hope for triumph. It is a fight. Nothing is guaranteed. Many will fail, and many will succeed, but one thing for certain is that all of us will die. You don’t need me to tell you this. It’s not a surprise. You know it’s coming, and so we are left, not even with the choices we make, but just one choice: Will you fight? Will you fight? Will you live?
But why don’t artists just say that? Why does it take them their whole life to figure that out, or maybe even never figure that out?
That IS the art. Art cannot be summarized or broken down or paraphrased without its meaning being summarized, broken down, and paraphrased as well. Art can’t be explained; it has to be experienced. How do you hear music for someone else? You can’t. How do you taste a delicious treat for someone else? You can’t. How are you supposed to live for someone else? You can’t. I could tell you the meaning of life, but it wouldn’t be the meaning of your life. It takes a lifetime of experiences to understand the meaning of life. Not just the meaning of any life; the meaning of your life. Life is the art, and art is life. We cannot live for someone else, but we struggle to, we try to pour our soul into art so that someone might feel a glimpse of the same thing we felt, live a fraction of our lives, and thus keep us alive through art. We don’t need to live. We don’t need to think. We don’t need to do anything; so I ask you this: why do we? …Your life is art, and you are the meaning of life.