Sitting by the Side of the Road in the Middle of Nowhere

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A journey of a thousand miles oft begins with a face plant.

This is by far the most misunderstood adventure upon which I have ever embarked. My parents, for example, seem to take the whole thing as an indication that my marriage is falling apart. I mean, why else would a guy need time off on his own? I’m pretty sure they’re picturing me holed up in a whorehouse somewhere, drowning my sorrows in loose women and perhaps a little booze. No idea where that image is coming from, mind you; apparently it’s just who I am…

Or perhaps I simply misunderstood them, and what they’re really afraid of is the chance that I’m out to end it all. Life, that is, not the world. Mine. I suppose this is what I get for using my words. Vulnerability–the word’s really been put out there lately, and it’s an important one. It requires a willingness to disclose, to say the things you’re really thinking, really feeling, even if they’re not completely kosher. Even if they sound a little nuts. Keep the men in the white labcoats on speed dial, you know? It’s our failure to acknowledge the crazy that makes us truly crazy. It’s called sympathetic magic, folks–naming something gives the speaker power over the named. We defeat our demons by talking them to death. I am not suicidal; I am self-aware. Enough to know when I need a break.

I’ve also been encouraged to go out and find the “freedom” I’m looking for. But that too misses the point. I’m not looking for freedom, because I’m already free. Rather, as a happily married man, I am free to choose to not be free. At least in the sense of being able to do whatever I want, whenever I want. That’s really the point–if there is a point–of this whole endeavor: how to not be free. With a smile.

Everybody talks about “following your heart.” Which is all fine and good, except it means different things for different people, or for the same people at different times in their lives. It’s not just a matter of picking up and leaving whenever you get the urge. True, the heart is a lonely hunter, but it can also be a stupid one. Given half a chance, it’ll drag you all over the damn place, like a deranged dog after a panicked squirrel. Which is to say that interacting with one’s heart is as much about knowing when not to follow it.

Sometimes (and this applies more often than not in my case) following my heart is about getting out of the way and allowing my wife Tammy to follow hers. After all, I wouldn’t even be on this little excursion were it not for her willingness to do that for me. Which brings me back to my parents and their concern for our failed romance: if I did not love my wife more than the world itself, I wouldn’t be out here by the side of this lonely highway, staring at the mountains, listening to the muffled explosions in the background, and thinking for all I’m worth. I have to be true not just to myself and my heart, but to her and hers as well. Eleven years, coming soon to a theater near you. Ups, downs, good times, bad ones–we’ve spoken of our love, of our periodic unhappiness; we’ve acknowledged the specter of divorce which–let’s face it–hangs over every married couple, whether they admit it or not. We’ve confronted the upsides of marriage and its downsides, and we’ve emerged the stronger for it. Tammy has encouraged me to learn more about who I am without fearing the consequences, to be true to myself no matter who my true self turns out to be. She let me go, out here, by myself, to find myself, so that I can be myself with her. How do you not adore a woman like that?

That is why I’m sitting here by the side of the road in the middle of nowhere: I need to rediscover the joy of living the life I’ve chosen for myself, of belonging in my own skin again. There’s some debate as to whether I’ll find myself or re-create myself, but either way, my self’s out there somewhere (or in there somewhere), waiting…

To be continued…

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3 thoughts on “Sitting by the Side of the Road in the Middle of Nowhere

  1. *I’m pretty sure they’re picturing me holed up in a whorehouse somewhere, drowning my sorrows in loose women and perhaps a little booze.*

    You had this image because it’s hilarious! It sure made *me* laugh, anyway.

    *…Vulnerability–the word’s really been put out there lately, and it’s an important one. It requires a willingness to disclose, to say the things you’re really thinking, really feeling, even if they’re not completely kosher. It’s our failure to acknowledge the crazy that makes us truly crazy. It’s called sympathetic magic, folks–naming something gives the speaker power over the named. We defeat our demons by talking them to death. I am not suicidal; I am self-aware. Enough to know when I need a break.*

    I cannot express to you how much I love what you said here. I am in complete agreement. Things have so much less power over us when we are able to talk about them!

    *Which is to say that interacting with one’s heart is as much about knowing when not to follow it.*

    I’ve never thought about that expression this way, but this is very wise.

    *She let me go, out here, by myself, to find myself, so that I can be myself with her. How do you not adore a woman like that?*

    This made me go “Awwwwwww!” You’ve got a keeper there, Toad! I think it is one of my favorite posts of all time. Definitely worth waiting for. Thanks for sharing these bits of wisdom!

    Like

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