Welp . . .
I mean, he’s been gone since right after the New Year, but I’ve been keeping those feelings to myself for a few weeks now, rolling them around in my head like a pair of Baoding balls, trying to let their tune emerge organically, to flow as it may . . .
It’s an unfairly bittersweet melody, to be honest.
I think I knew it would be, going in, but nonetheless I am struck by its lilt.
Something I know I know, though, is that life handed me a moment. One of those moments you get the chance to walk the walk having talked the talk – to find out who you really are, and, if you’re lucky, to be the person you’ve always hoped you were.
Personally, I’ve always hoped I’m one of those people who, at least in the movies, does “the thing” – that brilliant thing – that saves the day, but that no rational, sane person would ever do because it would never even occur to them.
“I’m bringing ‘em in closer, Merlin.”
“You’re gonna do what?!”
And, romantic that I am, I’ve always hoped I wouldn’t only be able to that thing for survival – I hoped I’d be able to do it for love, too, love being the essential non-essential, one of those differences between living and being alive.
Not just any love, of course.
SATC fans will know what I’m taking about when I say a “great love” . . . one that changes you, that summons forth the best and brightest version of you, the only person capable of making you do said crazy thing(s).
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that even a year and a half ago, getting on a train that I knew was going to get me here seemed crazy at best; now that I’m actually here it seems Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) screaming “FUCK IT!” and jumping out of a perfectly good plane with a gun instead of parachute kind of crazy.
It certainly wasn’t that I thought it was a good idea. It’s not like I woke up everyday between then and now thinking everything was going to be okay.
It was simply that I HAD to do it – for no good reason other than the fact that I couldn’t NOT do it.
I didn’t care what happened, so long as it happened with him.
Something happening, however badly or well it went – and it really could only go so well – was the only way I was going to be able to sleep at night.
I mean, no one would’ve blamed Johnny for letting Bodhi (the late and great Patrick Swayze) go, for listening to every self-preserving cell in his body and not jumping out of the plane . . . but he would have. He would have kicked and blamed himself and wondered every single day.
So he jumped, I jumped, and that’s the thing about jumping:
No brakes, no changing your mind.
Once you’re out of the plane, it not-so-simply becomes a matter of keeping your cool, evaluating your options, and making the best of a difficult situation.
It becomes about getting comfortable “free-falling” because you won’t always have a choice. Sooner or later life pushes us all out of the plane, like it or not. It’s about doing something only you know you need to do, because your gut tells you it’s somehow going to make you a bigger, better, wiser person, even though that something scares the sh*t out of you, even though it’s going to hurt like hell, even though everyone’s going to call you crazy behind your back and then say told ya’ so . . .
Were these last few months of “free-falling” hard . . . ? Abso-fucking-lutely.
(I ugly cried a lot.)
But they were also beyond wonderful. Some of the best moments of my life where lived, and – call me messed-up – but I find myself appreciating the contrast.
Not too long ago, my ex (?) sent me an e-mail describing a gale storm that trapped him at anchor for 3 days and how “foul” it was . . . but in the spaces between his words I discerned a certain rueful joy.
“Feeling alive,” is what he wrote, and nothing else he could have said could have reassured me about our decision to ride it out more.
It’s been a long time since I felt as I do now, stripped down, freshly torn, raw and exposed to myself like a nerve ending, but as a writer I experience that same rueful joy in this feeling as my whatever-he-is finds in bad weather; that laugh-out-loud feeling somewhere between “FUCK IT!” and “Well, this was a great idea.”
The ease and quickness of the flux is terrifying, for sure, as is that moment when you realize that the good in life is often inextricable from the bad, that the only real difference between living and being alive is jumping or not jumping, and that for the jumpers amongst us it never really gets any easier . . .
Hopefully we just get better at it.
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