Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Running On Empty

Lately I've been thinking quite a bit about my
life and the odd directions it's taken. I have
always seemed to be behind life's curve, so to
speak. If there's something adventurous, just
a little edgy or out there, I have always been
slow to embrace it. I suppose one could say the
flip side of that is that once I have done so,
I do it passionately and intensely. Perhaps
that is why it takes me a bit longer -- the fear
of sinking in too deep, of giving my heart and
soul and being burned in the process.

It may seem contradictory that I am a
"question authority" type person who played it
by the book during my adolescence and
young adulthood, but immersing myself in academia
was my refuge from the chaos surrounding me at home.
There was such turbulence, insecurity, anger and
pain, so little support, understanding, and communication.
We all turned inward on ourselves instead of outward
to where we could help one another.

So I have never really been one to leap into the
unknown, have always wanted to stay behind, alone
in a warm, safe place with a good book. So often
the characters in those books are more than
familiar--they have, in a sense, become my only
real friends. I turn to them for comfort
and reassurance that I am not alone, that
there is someone else who has felt the things
I am feeling, that my pain and fear are not unique.
After all, we all need to be loved and understood
for who we really are, and so few of us ever achieve
that true connection with anyone. But the books are
there waiting, unchanged, without judgment.
So I return to them whenever I am downhearted,
lonely, sad...which is more often than I'd like
to admit.

It has always been terrifying to me to face the
unknown when the known is so unsettling. Yet I
look at what others have done and I feel such
regret, such longing to go back and be the
adventurous person I never really was. But I
am doing things now that would have been
impossible for me even a few short years ago,
so there is change, there is progress. There
is that human stereotype of youth misspent
followed by settling down, but I feel as though
I am, in an odd way, doing the opposite. In so
many ways, I feel as though my life is just

Yeah, there is that old cliche
about life being a journey, that we should
accept ourselves and the choices we have
made in life because without them, we would
not be the people we are now. But I am haunted
by the past, by the roads not taken.
On spring evenings, as the sun begins
to sink in the west, the moist air filled with
so much fragrance and promise, I feel such
overwhelming longing, such sadness. As life
renews itself, it sometimes feels to me like
mine is too screwed up to salvage.

So I keep on running, sometimes on empty, trying to
hold on...

"So we beat on, boats against the current,
borne back ceaselessly into the past."
--F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

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