Day by Day #45: the joy of waiting, the guilt of telling, the pleasure of listening, and how humanity repeats itself in different ways
There is always something to look forward to – no matter how distant. The in-between time, you say, is a boring wasteland. Just think of the next thing. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s the reason you stay alive.
For those who aren’t married – for those who look forward to it – it is impossible to anticipate the intensity. You cannot have a realistic vision of the future. In your imagination, there is nothing more satisfying than having your own house, the children – think of the children! – the wife whose eyes sparkle every time you look at her. How do they do that? That’s right. You hit the nail on the head when you said in your vows, “Your eyes are made of crystal.” You said the perfect thing. People cried. And everything was in sepia-tone, because everything old-fashioned is perfect. The children love you – think of the children! – the grandparents visit and, my, how interested the siblings are in you. They want to visit you because, well let’s face it, you turned out the best. They are all your best friends. And the money. Think of the money.
But, our imaginations cut out the fact that marriage is not just what we want, but what we need. It’s wonderful that those who desire marriage cannot see how much it will hurt. I have never been married before; I can’t even see how intense the pain will be. In the long run, if you can fight through the pain that close relationships bring, it is glorious.
Forget the pain for a second. Think of how natural it will feel. The entire reason that your future vision seems so exciting, is because it will be different. The change that it brings is a drastic change compared to where you are now.
But have you thought of the in-between time? The only thing illuminating that “boring” part of life is the glory of the vision. But, the closer we get to the coming day, the more we see it for what it really is. Each day closer, we get another piece of a real version. In marriage, you can see what that day will look like in real life much better the day before. But ten years before? It only exists in your imagination. And there is nothing more deceptive than theory.
For those who are doing it right, ask the bride the day after the wedding how she feels – if she is excited or if it is as wonderful as she thought it was when she was twelve. She should feel wonderful (does she really love him?), but she will probably say, “It just feels right.” (I know a bride who said something similar.)
Those aren’t words of intensity. Those are words of satisfaction. Why is it that our imagination confuses the two? The most satisfied people are those who either experience the least intensity, or those who remain satisfied in spite of intensity. Intensity is the opposite of satisfaction, isn’t it?
But our visionary selves refuse to acknowledge that. We want the intensity, baby, all night long. Doesn’t intensity mean that you are striving for something, or that there is turbulence in your life? It seems like people naturally strive for intensity, but find that the thing which they wanted was far more satisfying than they expected. So, what’s better? To live in a constant state of expectation (it tickles more) or to strive for the real state of things? To become better people?
Let’s take another look at this. It’s sort of like a movie adaption of a favorite book. In the book, you have this vision of what everything looked like. But, when you go and see the movie, it forces your vision to comply with what you actually see. You will demand that your vision be kept alive. What usually happens? Chances are, you will walk out of that movie with tears in your eyes (for those serious book-lovers), wishing that you had seen something exactly like you imagined.
Assuming the movie is good, though, wouldn’t it be more satisfying to let your vision die (because it will, whether you fight or not) and accept that it was your insistence to see the movie that has “ruined” it? If you liked your vision so much, why in the world did you go see the movie?
If you wish you were married – and you like the wishing more than the actual reality – be careful about getting married. The relationship is real.
For now, I’m enjoying my vision. And I’m a little scared of the reality.
Pride is a sneaky little devil. When we think we have reached a place of self-acceptance, it comes knocking on the door. On our way, we have this solidified understanding of what pride is (does ending a sentence with a verb bother you?). So, we seek out a way to destroy it. Usually, we are met with success and we reach a place of self-acceptance. “Okay, I recognize what I don’t understand now. How exciting to find out about things I don’t know about!”
Right there, another perspective creeps up on us. We begin to get excited about what we do know. We take dominion over our knowledge and mark the land we own. “I know this, this, this, this, and – wow! – do I really know this?” For people, pride comes in different packages. I experience it in a different way than you. Make no mistake, though, we all struggle with it.
Right now, I’m struggling with the idea that pride can creep in when we are overly self-aware. How self-aware are we supposed to be? Should we think about how we are talking, how we say things, how we go about our business? I don’t know.
Is it prideful to recognize something in reality that you honestly believe other people don’t see? When we believe we are doing the right thing and are pursuing the realization of our dreams, the greatest force to stop us is pride and self-awareness.
Helping the poor, doing the different thing, might find its roots in good intentions. We may honestly believe that people should be more awake and aware – why is everyone so apathetic? And God bless us if we pursue the right thing, even when it is different. But, we can so convince ourselves of how good our actions are, that we become drunk on our own words, looks, deeds, etc. And the more that we see how our beliefs and lives are being threatened by self-awareness, the more we scramble to fix it. And our conscience and others point us in the direction of more change. We have not yet become the people we think we should be. We have not yet understood how much we don’t.
I have found that it is sometimes much better to keep my mouth and mind silenced when pursuing what I believe is good. This is one of the hardest things to do. I don’t think I’m doing it very well right now.
When Robert Zimmerman was growing up, he believed that he was destined for greatness. In his mind, it wasn’t belief. It was fact. He knew that he would be different than everyone else. I don’t know if he shared that vision with people while he was growing up, but if he did, I’m sure that they would not agree with him. Or, they wouldn’t see it.
Robert Zimmerman became Bob Dylan. In interviews, after all his “greatness”, he now talks about the vision he had of himself when he was young. Everyone agrees that it was fact.
Everyone has a future vision of themselves (How can anyone live without expectation? Or, they live in denial and it’s a present vision). Most people understand things that they can’t relate. They have a message to share, or a thing to reveal. The human mind is one big secret. If we share our secrets (our visions), they are immediately threatened by reality.
For all of the misunderstanding that visions bring, though, they seem necessary.
What would marriage be, if we didn’t long for it? What would our family look like, if we didn’t have expectations for it? The intensity is good. It is fuel. But, do not prematurely design a vision.
Do not share what you see with others, until you can really show them.
The really good artists will see what they want in a painting, book, movie. But, the minute they share that vision with someone who asks, “So, what is this about?” it loses its greatness just a little bit. What kind of question is, “What is this about?”
Our minds are equally capable of forming sinless versions of things as they are forming sinful versions. There is nothing wrong for striving for the sinless versions. That is what keeps us going. And to demand that we add sin into the equation of our hopes is destruction; it makes us feel guilty. Have you not created what you have designed? Share with someone else what it’s about and you will see that there is a little guilt involved. “Now that I actually say what it’s about, it sounds kind of stupid…” There is never a satisfactory way to share with someone what you hope for. If you want something, go for it. Do not stop to calculate or explain to others. Let them trust you. Work. Work hard. Keep your mouth shut. Show them…
…and find that the endpoint is far different than what you saw. In this life, the vision will always look different than the reality. Our vision of death and the afterlife is so vastly different than what it will actually look like. There is no way to put it into words. But trust. Expect that day and find that we get eternal intensity. A real vision?
I don’t know if I have said this before, but truth tends to repeat itself in different ways. When we are enjoying someone’s attempt at making a previous vision reality (okay, let’s use simpler terms now. Let’s call it a creative work.), it is our duty as a viewer to strive t0 the best of our abilities to become subject to their work. They have something to say – hear them out. Let them show you. Suspend all judgment – if they have really worked hard – until a proper time afterwards. Has it ever benefited you to judge someone mid-sentence? “No, that’s not what I’m saying, actually. You cut me off.” Of course there will be problems with what they say. But, if what they say is true, the end goal should be an understanding of the vision they had. Yes, it will not be perfect – nor will it be the same. But, every creative work is a message and a vision.
Just like the artist before they did anything, that vision is usually kept alive and perfect when it is not shared with others. How can you possibly explain to someone how a creative work affected you? How it made you feel? What it told you? There is intensity there. And it hurts when you tell someone and they just say, “Yeah. It sounds cool. I’ll check it out.” It takes sacrifice to share.
The choice is before you. Will you share and risk pain? Or will you sit there, with your thoughts and visions, taking pleasure in something no one else can see? I don’t know which one is more self-centered. The first is much harder to bear, but easier to do. Sharing with someone seems sweet – but not usually received that way. The second choice? It’s wonderful, but how long can we sustain pleasure? And in both cases, intensity will be felt. If we keep something to ourselves, the past vision tends to rot. We can’t experience the intensity forever. Even if we don’t share our vision of the future, it will begin to crumble if we mine it for satisfaction. It is a refusal of reality. One way or another, reality finds its way into our minds. And visions flicker in front of our eyes.
Find someone who shares your vision – and listen.