When I was younger I had this image in my head of who I would want to be and what I would believe and how I would view the world and who I’d want with me. I fought long and hard to realize all these facets of myself that I, in my naiveté, thought would be as unchanging as the firmament. I have refused any sort of change or deferment with such contention that I’ve passed on plenty of people, places, and things in my life. The walls of my personality have been built on those things that I’ve discarded in pursuit of what I believed to be my true self.
If you would ask me right now if I felt it was worth it, passing up on so much and stubbornly holding onto what I did have, I would still answer yes. I am happy and content and aware of myself enough to say that I am, for better or for worse, much the same still. Now you’ll see there I said ‘much the same’, not ‘all the same’.
It’s very easy when your world is small and your view is low to simplify and characterize things in your immediate view. When I was younger I hated eggplant. It was mushy and had the unpleasant texture of baby food and an equally similar appearance. It was not hard therefore to say ‘I am someone who does not like eggplant’. But then you grow older and start eating at places with cloth napkins and ordering from a menu you cannot draw on in crayon and you are introduced to things like eggplant rollatini and Chinese eggplant with spicy garlic sauce and suddenly you are torn.
My world is inevitably, and with or without my cooperation or blessing, growing inexorably larger. I have absorbed so much in the past few years in terms of experiences, learning, and meeting people that my mind is pushing against the walls. I never thought that the crumbling of my walls would be an inside job.
It was so much simpler back when things were more black and white. Good was good and evil was evil. It was so easy to define. Power Rangers, good. Rita Repulsa, bad. Heavy words had little spaces so it was quick and easy and convenient to very casually define and move on. At an age with not much experience in such matters I made decisions on love, relationships, careers, education, money, race, gender, sexuality, etc. I drew on what resources I had from my parents and friends and church and literature and film and slowly I built, brick by brick, the outline of my identity. Like a budding city, I built with just enough space from the center to fit not only the population of knowledge and experience I already had but to easily and comfortably accommodate a future population without compromising space and security.
What the city planner of my mind did not anticipate however, was that the population would grow at a breakneck rate and would continue to grow even after I thought it would all be done. My youthful arrogance and self-sure attitude prevailed over more reasonable and sound voices. ‘I have already come to conclusions about everything I need to think and consider,’ I would say to myself, ‘why should I have to worry about changing my mind.’
The problem, which really isn’t a problem mind you, is that I haven’t stopped considering things and learning and growing. I would certainly not go so far as to say I’ve dramatically shaken any definitions to the very core but I have certainly begun to see the cracks in the walls because I find myself practically smushed against them.
This all came to a stark and shocking focus tonight when I finally relented to let a friend take me to this new organic schtick of a restaurant and I found myself sipping a cocktail from a goddamn mason jar made with an ingredients list that details the height and weight of each farmer, eating a cauliflower pizza with quinoa sausage and kale cheese, wondering what the hell happened to my life.
Thankfully I know this will be a one-time thing. My friends have definitely noticed this ‘softening of the edges’ and have gleefully taken advantage of it by taking me to places I had vehemently lambasted with enthusiasm and vigor in the past. Part of the time it is because it was something they actually were interested in but most of the time it’s for the sheer marvel of watching me crawl out of my skin in these situations. They are abusing my generous nature. The fact of the matter though still remains, I went. I tried. Some things have been revelations. Others have simply confirmed that which I knew to be true a long long time ago. I am at times excited by these changes but other times worried. Because it makes me think of my past.
See the sacrifices and passed opportunities are only worth it for so long as the walls stand. If I begin to take them down, if I choose to expand my walls, what skeletons will be revealed underneath the brickwork and will I be okay with them being brought back to light. If I could be wrong about one thing, what if I was wrong about everything. Is ignorance truly bliss because knowledge is torture. Am I really prepared, willing, or even interested in opening that can of proverbial and philosophical worms?
I have pushed myself to the very border of my self. I have learned and absorbed and yes I have even found little settlements being built that bridge the inner populace of the walls to the outer. Knowing what I knew and believing in what I believed in has gotten me this far and I don’t want to ever forget that or to find myself wanting. I think…I think I could very happily go on exactly as I am. Is that smug? I sound smug. I like myself. I like what I’ve done with the place. But I get the need and the desire and the drive for change. I can see why people enjoy reinventing and redecorating. But at what expense and what message does that portray about the past?
Not having to worry about relationships or how others perceive me has freed me to think about much more than just my dating situation. I’ve had the time to investigate and re-investigate for my own sake. I’ve spent more time in the past 93 days in a row reflecting on myself than I have had in total the past couple years of my life. I’ve tried much more and craved much more. One of the purposes of this experiment was to ask myself questions for my own sake and I am beginning to answer them. I just don’t want the cost to be who I am or who I was.
I know this is answering my own question but, perhaps it would help to stop thinking of myself as an outline defined by impenetrable walls. Perhaps I can take down some of the excess brick and expose the framing to the elements. I could still live happily within myself with a wire frame, letting parts in and out. Perhaps our personalities are not as iron clad as we’d like to think. A little flexibility, a little permeability, a little malleability could help when we are battered either from within or without. Even just that bit of relaxation has lifted so much off my shoulders. I don’t think I would have been so flexible or forgiving in the past. After all I was so focused on finding a relationship and being whoever someone else wanted me to be that as soon as I was locked on I tightened up and hunkered down. I wanted to fit as perfectly as I could into someone else’s layout. It was my resoluteness and firmness that people relied on and wanted. Left alone to my own devices, I’m enjoying the freedom to explore. I don’t think I’d ever fully leave my city limits, but I’ve come to realize I enjoy the little out of border excursions. Perhaps I, and some big name politician with crazy hair, just needed to realize that we can go beyond a wall and not lose the security of self.
Man: 74 Loneliness: 20