To hell with that. Everywhere I look, there’s people healing, growing, becoming one with the universe and other eastern traditions that never worked for those who invented them to begin with. I can understand trying to get a grip on one’s life, I can understand improving, I can understand fixing things that need fixing – what I can’t understand is the sudden (well, maybe not so sudden) need to do it the way others are doing it, because it has a catchy name. In a nice flash of insight, I may be allergic to those names, actually. What is healing anyway? Also, my own little personal dirty mind makes me yell to them: “If you have to use a name to what you’re doing, you ain’t doing it right, bub!”. Why is that, I wonder?
The one thing nobody can take away from me is my brain. As such, I dedicated a big portion of my time to understanding how the bloody thing works. Why? Sweetie, I got me a wife and a son – screwing up big time it’s bound to happen. I’d prefer to not make the same mistake twice, you know. My bumps are still a little sore in certain places. We sometimes fight, we sometimes make mistakes, two (or more) people living for years under the same roof, sharing stories, happy or sad moments and hot chocolate while watching the rain or snow fall down will eventually experience brain farts a couple of times. It’s better to understand those and not freak out when one or the other goes all-in Forrest Gump for a while. It will happen, it has happened and it’s rather freaky.
For men, a brain fart can show up suddenly – like answering your wife’s “what’s on the telly now?” question like an internet troll: “dust!”. Or replying to “can we eat somewhere I haven’t been in a long time?” by “yea, the kitchen!”. That’s how fights start. It may look like it’s a good idea to do that, but in retrospect it’s really not. After the fight you’ll be wondering various stuff and the universe like a pro. What the hell was I thinking? After being married longer than I’ve been a single adult, I’d say I’ve had a few of those. All right, more than a few. What the hell was I thinking?
We’ve had good times, we’ve had bad times, we’ve had everything in between. After looking at each other, I will just say this – anything you name that your brain can interpret as temporary will be interpreted as temporary. You will act like it’s temporary. A diet. Learning something. Healing. Fixing. Building. Growing. Anything. Every bloody thing you can do that you can name has a beginning and an end. Life. Work. Sleep. Whatever. Naming it will make it worse. Oh look, I’m on a diet. The next thought will be – when’s it going to end? I’ve had a bad experience at work, I need to step back and reconsider my life. When will you be done reconsidering? I’ve had a death in the family, or my marriage/ relationship ended suddenly, so I need to heal. For how long? See? Everything is expected to have an end.
Even the word marriage looks bleak if it’s out in the open, spoken, defined. Do you know the next part? Until death, I think they say. One tends to go eye-shopping, after all, it’s not supposed to last forever. Really? Is marriage like betting half of what you own that you’re soulmates? Bullshit.
There’s a problem with every life-altering event ever, we sort of try to find loopholes. Like, all the time. Getting married because there’s a child incoming? If you were unhappy before, what would you expect after out pops a child, a 20 year long moving factory of crap, mucus and loud noises that needs to be fed, changed and cared for before becoming a productive member of society? Three times a day of hanky-panky? Tortuga vacations? Drugs? Yea, maybe those. On the other hand, teaching him or her to get you beer from the fridge can be ticked down as a side-benefit in a few years. Nothing depresses new parents more than understanding things go from meh to hell in a heartbeat. A kid is not what they tell you in the movies or newspapers. Especially if baby colics happen and you’re working in the morning. Oy vey!
We’re doing that loophole-watching all the time. Like bird-watching, only for ever and ever. Oh, we’re expecting a kid but I’ll just work my golf hours around him. Maybe I can do raids with my guild after he’s asleep. Yes, we’re getting married but I’ll still get to work 60-80 hours a week and have my tri-weekly beer runs at the pub with my friends. Yea, right, about that.. If you’re doing that, you’re doing it wrong. There’s a reason it’s called a life-altering event – it will alter your life, dummy! Your life as you knew it is over. It’s a new life, with new habits to be developed, new routines and trying to pretend nothing happened is just bullshit.
Naming something is like defining it – here it begins, here it ends. You’re setting up boundaries, walls, and your desired outcome exists only within them. All diets fail, for instance, because once they’re over you’re reverting to your older habits of eating too much crap. You only diet when you want to lose weight – the diet ends when you are at the desired weight or when you decide to end it. Why is there no such word for maintaining your desired weight until the day you kick the bucket? No, maintenance isn’t the droid word you’re looking for. This thing, this name – it restricts everything. Yes, a diet is eating certain foods to decrease, maintain or increase body weight. That’s the supposed definition of the word. Now quickly, name(!) one diet that’s designed to maintain or increase body weight. Know any? I sure as hell don’t. That’s why dieting fails – we’re associating the word with weight loss. Mentally, we’re screwing it up ourselves. Quick question, once you’re done dieting, what will you do? Then what?
That’s why I think I’m allergic to such words. Dieting, healing, holistic, natural, detox, growing, all very nice words but ultimately nothing else. We’re placing too much emphasis on small changes. Yes, I do mean small changes. Breaking up with your girlfriend or boyfriend is one thing if you’re thinking short term, and quite another if you’re looking at it from the whole life perspective. I know, I know, there are big changes too. But what is that compared to losing your wife or husband of thirty years? Still think your experience is a big event? What is losing your job when you’re in the mid-twenties compared to losing everything, your house, your pension, the content of your bank accounts, when you’re fifty and supporting one or more kids through school? Breaking up with your girlfriend isn’t something big or earth-shattering, especially if there’s more than one girlfriend in transit over more than twenty years of looking for your soulmate. The death of your wife after decades of ups and downs, of happy and sad moments, or your parent’s death, that’s earth-shattering. Nothing hits harder than life and you’ll be living for a long time. If your soulmate decides they don’t want to be that after one or two years, it’s one thing. Outliving your child is something else – there’s no comparison, those aren’t even in the same league. Accidents happen. Shit happens. You can’t ever heal from something like that. You can’t ever be the person you were before it happened. Forget the commercial gurus selling you miracles, they’re not worth the paper they’re printed on. You can’t grow. You can’t heal. All you can do is weather it out and hope the person you’re becoming is something you’d still be able to look at in the mirror without grunting. The only words I understand being used are for the bad stuff, like mourning or chemotherapy. Those are things I don’t mind associating with a well-defined end.
Mid-life crisis is for the weak, for those who have no idea what the future holds. It’s for those who haven’t planned their future. Reacting to events may look interesting in the short run, but years pass and your life passes and suddenly you’re fifty and having trouble going up the stairs and your knees hurt. And you think – I’m almost dead and I’ve never done the things I wanted to do. That’s why they call it that. You think your life so far isn’t who you are – and you rush to do things you think you should have done. Doing that will probably screw up the rest of your life, just as you did with the life you had up to here. There you have it, it’s broken because I’ve fixed it. You don’t fix what’s broken, you break it in a fascinating new way. It’s not a good thing to see first-hand. Think again. There is no such thing as a mid-life crisis. It’s your brain waking up after decades of zombie-like living. No planning means no responsibility for the outcome. You don’t live your life, somebody else does it. You’re a tool, a cash-cow. All you do is make some people rich and pay for others to live. Somebody like that isn’t a good father or a good husband. Ever. All they do is provide the food and the money and nothing more. For everything else there’s MasterCard. Or Visa. Or Amex. Take money out of the equation and the family has no need for him. And boy will that one hurt one day.
I’ve seen people get married for the wrong reasons. I’ve seen people stay married for the wrong reasons. I’ve seen people who have no business being near one another become strangers living in the same home. Also married. I don’t know why the stay married. Each one is unhappy, each one knows the other is miserable but keep going without improving anything. Some have children hoping it will bring them together. Some don’t. Some work separately, they eat out, they do almost nothing together except eating and sleeping. That plus sex means not a marriage, in my book. Okay, they might have more of that sex thing than me, probably. Perhaps even way more than me, which is nothing to sneeze at. But even passion disappears after a while, if there’s nothing else binding them. I could be having a bad case of projection here, I know. Which is why this here line of reasoning isn’t something I want to pursue, just yet. Hell of a wake up call when things that didn’t use to sag, wrinkle or bloat now do exactly that. Ever wonder why older folks go for younger … squeeze dolls?
It takes two people to do the tango. I keep seeing men become what women were 50 years ago and women become what men were also around 50 years ago. Feminism issues aside, I can understand men becoming more touchy-feely if women told them that’s who they have to be to get into their panties, but women? Why would women look for big careers and no family time and then wonder why they’re single? I do believe Sex and the City struck a nerve in me, there, I’ve said it. I don’t mind my wife earning more than me or doing harder work than me. I’d mind if she were to place her career ahead of the family. Would that make me a bad husband? Probably, in the minds of many. I don’t think so. Marriage isn’t about just one person, it’s about a couple. If you want to be free to do whatever you want, don’t get married. That’s what’s been bugging me about various so-called celebrities. In marriage you have to care for the other person, too. You can’t expect everything to be about yourself. You both have to give up something for the other. No, you can’t live like a bachelor and be married, you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. I understand that now, better than I did when I got married. You don’t grow, as they say, alone – either you both grow or you’ve failed. You adapt, you learn, you work hard to keep up the friendship and everything else. You can’t separate half your body from the other half. The couple, the two members of the equation, shouldn’t be separate. Each has preferences, each has things they like or dislike, each has needs to be met and fears to face. A marriage isn’t one-way. Or shouldn’t be, anyway.
You don’t think it’s right? Would it make any sense at all if you’d think of me as a woman? What would you tell me, as a woman, if I were to demand my husband work less and spend more time with me? Now then, why would you think that I, as a man, want my wife to not have a career? I’ve been asked that, once, you know. The point is, I think you’re bullshitting me. You’re trying to trap me within the boundaries of a definition. A career isn’t defined by a 60 hour work-week. I have a career and work 40 hours a week, give or take. A career doesn’t mean she has to come home once every two days at 9 p.m. for dinner, sleep and breakfast. Who bloody gave you that idea? I’d love to punch them in the face. She, like me, had to change jobs. She, like me, had to get into a very different industry. She makes more than me, now, and she works 50 hours a week, give or take. I don’t mind any of it. Why would I have to just love her working 60 or 70 hours a week? For a career? I should love her and give her space to work more and love that? Now why the hell would you tell me she doesn’t have a career now? Because she takes our kid to the park? Because she can’t possibly do that and work full time? Or maybe the idea of me picking up where she left off, like doing the dishes or dusting the furniture is just plain wrong? Because a man can’t really be expected to change dirty diapers (oh, there’s a few funny stories for another time), feed the kid, cook or vacuum the carpet when those things need to be done. Right. I thought so. That would be so sexist, so wrong… In other words, I’m a living stereotype and a sexist pig. Oink!
In marriage, the old fisherman tale nails it right. Be careful with what you want, you just might get it.