Thursday, March 31, 2005

The fall from Sky High

The fall from Sky High is the tragedy of the Idealist, the Romantic, the Altruist, the Ambitious Goody Two Shoes. As Mark Twain said (and I paraphrase for now), 'there is nothing more irritating than a good example.' And not many of us go well out of our way to be so irritating. The status quo - and the rocks in the troubled waters (our own and others) - come back to bite us in the ass.

I'm sure that at some point soon I should set about to define, deal with and discuss what I think Idealists and Romantics are - Idealism and Romanticism - and yes, those words all deserve capital letters in my book. My views of both are dear to my heart, deeply considered, soundly unconventional and (to quite a few) pains in the ass. (Ah, yes, righteousness can be its own feeble and oh so fallible religion, too - an R word I won't capitalize.)

But in the meantime, as a die-hard IR, I say it hurts when I haven't lived up to what I expect of myself, much less hope for for myself and others, when I have let myself or someone else down, when I disappoint or hurt myself - and in each case, others as well or not so well. In some ways, those disappointments are chronic, like the creep of time in this petty pace from day to day. In other ways, those disappointments just sear and ache and groan inside, the result of sudden mishaps, slips of the tongue, slaps of the brain, slides down into the dark side of fear and/or apathy or lack of sympathy or empathy, even (sometimes) hedonism or mental anarchy.

Two steps forward, and we smile. One step back, and we grimmace.

And then sometimes, it seems, one step forward, TWO steps back, oh my and ugh.

Sometimes, it may seem that our greatest loves are also our bitterest pills, so close yet so far, so personal yet so petty, we may feel, but this is not really the way it is. It is that the world weighs in, too, and turns what we think is love into angst and insecurity and bitter action. The bitterness we feel comes from our fears of and wrestling with the mightier demands of The Real World, as we call it, as if we as our own selves are not the real world. The Real World - chock full of discouragments and "duties" and disasters, petty and grand. True love can conquer much of this, but not all. And anyway, such love is rare, very rare, and in and of itself, a huge challenge. We must both press onward and be peaceful and patient about the progress we'd like to see in ourselves and those to whom we are closest.

Life can be such a challenge of light and dark, and here I am, middle-aged though young and even in some ways - too many ways? - adolescent at heart, just a meager pilgrim on the quest for love and virtue, still looking for the saving graces, literally the skills and graces that will save me, still hoping that the repressible and sometimes irrepressible ABSURDITY of "how life is" will remind us how much we need hilarity and hope, will put the smile on our theatrical masks, save the day and recharge life.


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