My Favorite Present

When my wife set up this online journal, I don’t think either of us realized what she was actually giving me. Writing a journal is like having a whole second life. And now that I have this second life, I've noticed some things about it that remind me a lot of the other one, the one I've had ever since I can remember.


Sometimes I get a good idea and write something I really like. Sometimes I get a terrible idea and hate my entry and all the others besides. Sometimes I don't write anything, choosing to do other stuff instead, and I feel terrible. Other times when I don't participate, I feel angry and defiant. ("I don’t *always* have to post something if I don’t feel like it. Nobody reads it anyway. Phooey.")

Sometimes I float through the log-in process grinning, half-giddy with anticipation of my next entry. Sometimes I can't wait to start (or finish) my Big Idea, and my fingers fly over the keys and the minutes speed past as I watch it take shape, this brilliant insight I'm about to write, or a perfect sentiment directed toward someone I care about.

Sometimes I start the ideas and they don't go right, and I have to change the plan midway through, and sometimes this is fun and other times it discourages me and makes me feel like if it was *really* such a great idea, it would've gone perfectly all the way through.

Sometimes I think this life is trying to teach me something.

Sometimes I think it's trying to piss me off.

Sometimes I think it's random and it doesn’t care if I don’t write.

Sometimes I think it's random and it doesn’t mind if I do.

Sometimes it all seems impossibly complicated and difficult, and I'll never, never do anything good here again, and any time I ever did do anything good in the past it was either a fluke or I overrated it, and now in retrospect I see that it sucked all along and I was just too dumb to realize.

Other times it seems simple and easy, and I feel lucky for every day I've been given, every chance to live this life of mine, even the ones in which I failed, or thought I did, because they were all blessings, more valuable than I can ever understand and no more deserved than the rain that falls on a pumpkin seed.

Sometimes it all seems to have been leading somewhere, all a big build-up for something, some decision or act or magnificent finale that puts everything into place so it all makes sense and is suddenly so unexpected and inevitable that it makes you gasp and leap to your feet and applaud.

Sometimes that expectation seems like it's overestimating my importance.

Sometimes it seems like the next thing I do is no more significant than the last thing I did, like it's not all really building up to anything, and to wait for the finale is to overlook the individual scenes.

Sometimes it seems like the next thing I do is *just a tiny bit* more significant than the last thing I did, because even though it may not all be going anywhere, the truth is that I *am* learning and getting gradually, ever so gradually, better at it. And it seems like ignoring that progress would be to focus too much on the scenes and overlook the plot.

Sometimes it seems like I've come a long way. Other times it seems like there's a long way to go.

Sometimes it seems like I've stopped and will never move forward again, and that, if anything, I'm creeping slowly backward, or just wandering around bumping into things.

Sometimes it seems like I'm overthinking it. Sometimes I see other people living their lives, writing their writing, and they seem to be pulling it off with such ease and grace that I stop in my tracks and stare, forgetting myself for a moment.

Sometimes seeing this inspires me and gives me encouragement that it can be done, that these people aren't really so different from me and that someday, certainly, I'll be able to do what they're doing.

Other times seeing this makes me feel hopelessly different, and I'm sure that those people who live life so well have always been able to do it, that *they* never worried about things like this or gave a second thought to what anyone else was doing.

Sometimes I feel close to them, like their life is wrapped up with mine. Other times I feel separated by miles of empty space and an unbreakable bubble.

Every day, I wake up in the morning and open my eyes and there it is again - this life, looking back at me. There are days when this is reassuring and there are days when it's crushing. Sometimes it's a new chance to try again. Sometimes it's one more punishment, another set-up for frustration and disaster.

Either way, it never seems to stop.

Sometimes I try to look at it with hope, convincing myself that it's all working out as it should, willing myself to open my eyes and welcome each moment. Sometimes I fear that I'm duping myself, retreating from the real life and choosing to live in a fantasy because I'm not strong enough to confront reality.

Sometimes I don't really care.

Most of the time I have a hunch that I'm never going to understand it and that I might as well strive to be happy within this life, because look - here it's already partly over with and I don't have it partly figured out.

Maybe I should just do what I can and not worry about what I can't do, even if other people can. Maybe I should just wise up and surrender to my limitations, so maybe I can just use the capabilities I do have and see what comes of it.

That's what it seems like sometimes.


It's been nine months now and I've written a hundred-some entries here, most of them an honest attempt to do what I also try to do in my other life: to say what I have to say, to understand whatever I may be able to understand, to make people happy, and to create good things.

I don't always know about the first life, but I know this one is a gift, and I am thankful. Thank you, Penelope, for my extra life. And thanks to all of you for sharing it with me.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I feel like that too. Sometimes.

and thank you for sharing with us, Colin. You write so eloquently, so effortlessly, with humor and grace and panache and with such great humanity I sometimes wonder if you've been secretly inhabiting my head. sometimes.

with great admiration for the gift that Penny gave you and the gift that is yours alone, Wee