Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Reckoning

Two nights ago Geoff asked me a question that's been on my mind ever since.  His question, born of frustration with Matthew's antics of the day, was this: "Is this as good as life gets?" I didn't fall asleep until after 2:00 the next morning, thinking about that question. During those sleepless hours, I found myself contemplating various types of responses to his question:

• At first I was angered by his question - it struck me as a pessimistic and ungrateful attitude towards life and I generally have little patience with these approaches (hypocritically, I suppose, given my own recent struggle with feeling thankful); I tend to think more that if one is unhappy with something in life, do something about it.

• My next reaction was to feel guilty. My perception was that Geoff's question was borne out of a general feeling of dissatisfaction with his life; my feelings of guilt stemmed from a feeling that perhaps I am responsible for Geoff's happiness or unhappiness. I think I concluded that he is, of course, ultimately responsible for his own satisfaction with life. However, given that he and I live in such close proximity, it seems virtually impossible to remain unaffected by his outlook and far more tempting to think that I am responsible for making him happy or fixing his every unhappiness.

• My next reaction to Geoff's question was one of:  aaahhhh!  What I realized in this moment is that his question wasn't that different from the questions I've asked myself in recent years when I was going through something that I've since identified as a mid-life crisis.  I've really struggled with these types of questions: is this all there is to life? Is there nothing more? What happened to the dreams I had as a child/teen/young adult?  When I finally realized how similar Geoff's question was to the ones I've been asking, I calmed down enough to recognize that perhaps he's going through what I and so many of our like-aged peer group are going through. These are, after all, good questions to ask and good questions to turn over and over.

I'll conclude with the final thoughts I had about Geoff's question in the hour before I (blessedly) fell asleep: my own truth in answer to the question, "is this as good as life gets?"  Life inevitably turns out differently than we envisioned it when we were kids dreaming of our futures. Dreams have perhaps been waylaid or forgotten; ambitions and goals of old seem unattainable or different than the way we're oriented now. It's a sad realization to come face to face with, and it mortars one brick in the foundation of the reckoning that we all need to do at some point in our lives - nickname it a mid-life crisis or call it by any other name you want, but it's a reckoning. And the reckoning is encapsulated by Geoff's question: "Is this as good as life gets?"  My answer, despite the horridness of some of our yesterdays, perhaps because of them, is a resounding yes.  This. Today. Is. As. Good. As. It. Gets.  I want to live it to the fullest, make today the beginning point of the next chapter in my life.  Life is, indeed, exactly this good.

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