He sat quietly for a moment at the kitchen table, waiting for a response. The AC wooshed on with a soft sigh, rustling papers. He said again, "You are worthy of love. You deserve to be loved. You. Are Worthy. Of Love."
And I realized in that moment--much to my surprise--that I wasn't sure I believed him.
My brain questioned the validity of those words. How was it possibly true that I deserved or was worthy of something I often wasted?
Divorced at 26, my frowning family still not completely recovered from the choice I made, causing dinners to revolve around small talk and questions about my work (but never, ever about my life, unless it was a question about why I don't go to church any more, as if I could spend one more minute in an environment that toxic to my creativity or sex).
A string of one night stands and time spent (purposely?) pursuing unavailable men for a majority of the last seven years.
Two attempts at relationships ended in part because I thought I could make something work by sheer grit and determination, and because I thought if I ignored something long enough, it would just go away...respectively.
Deserved? Worthy? No, I thought, seeing only my brokenness; only the many, many knots I needed to unravel.
So I didn't believe him...because he had not used the word "earn."
She leaned back on the picnic table and sighed. "I don't know. I just feel like I should be doing MORE."
"But you do so much!" I said, thinking of her continuous efforts in the community, the program she's championed that helps junior high girls build self-esteem and a sense of independence through cycling.
"Yeah," she said, "but I think of everything else that's going on in the world, and I feel like what I'm doing here isn't enough."
I said, hoping she could sense my wish that someone had invested in me at that age like she invests in those kids, "It's enough to that one little girl whose life you change. Right here. Right now. It's enough to her."
He posts photos of himself in exotic locations, muscular arms slung around the shoulders of people whose faces punctuate magazines and television and book jacket covers. He sends a positive message: "You, too, can have this life...."
It's easy to confuse his dreams with my dreams, or to buy the lie that his life is the only way to live life, when in fact his life is the only way to live his life.
We all have people like him in our lives. It's entirely possible we're not working hard enough to "have it all," or that we're settling, or that we just don't have enough single-minded focus to just make it happen.
Possible...though not entirely likely.
Maybe, just maybe, your life is enough, but you keep looking so far outward, or so much at how your life stacks up to other people's dreams, you forget that there are tiny, beautiful moments happening to you right here, right now.
In improv, we often joke about creating "disposable comedy." For me, this idea brings both a feeling of relief and regret.
Relief because if you royally fuck up a scene, or let your partner down, or tromp over the rules, or overthink, or simply forget to bring the best you to the stage...it's over in a minute, never to be repeated again.
Regret because if you create something beautiful and brilliant, or boost your scene partner to greatness, or remember the rules only to deliberately break them with the cleverest intent, and bring the very best of weird, wonderful you to the stage...it's over in a minute, never to be repeated again.
In reality, I should feel neither relief nor regret. I should only feel satisfaction from having performed at all, and perhaps the merest acknowledgement that, "I can do better," or conversely, "I couldn't have done that any better."
Yet when it comes to my life, It scares me to think that I'm wasting time. That perhaps there are precious seconds of "more" ticking by...seconds I can never recapture, hands spinning 'round the face of a clock.
Disposable moments prompting either regret or relief...sadness over missed opportunities or bad behavior, or a reprieve in knowing, "at least I didn't fuck that up too badly."
In reality, I should feel neither relief nor regret...
"How are you?" I asked, glad for the brief meetings we are able to arrange between his world travels.
He replied, like always, "I'm perfect. I just need a little tweaking."