Part 1 of 4: In which a philosophy emerges from among a litany of failures and disappointments, a potential solution is proposed to correct the author’s heretofore intractable behavior, and a great many swear words are gratuitously employed.
When I reflect upon many of the experiences I’ve related in the True-Ass Tales here on Promethean Times, it occurs to me that I very often depict them as flights of vulgar whimsy; the exploits of a lovable man-child who splits the scene when the time comes to clean up the mess; a psychically-retarded archetype from an 80s campus comedy whose self-indulgent antics have neither victims nor consequences, and whose madcap escapades remain wholly independent from the constraints of context.
This assessment is by no means entirely unfair: to a large extent I do tend to view my past both pleasant and painful as a series of amusing and often riotously funny adventures which I can from time to time take from my mental shelf, either to share with another person, or as is so often the case, to revisit for my own benefit. But never–not ever–without context. Context is the stuff around which life is built.
However, along with these warm memories of a misspent and overlong youth, I bear also their attendant consequences. Largely, I bear them privately and I bear them by choice. I will bear them all my days. My falls and failures, my humiliations and defeats are, after all, as much an integral part of the bricks and mortar which make up the man I am today as are my triumphs. We’re told time and time again to let go of our pasts, and this is undoubtedly sound advice for some–but not for me. I am my past, and to turn my back on any part of it, no matter how silly, regrettable or downright ugly is to forsake a piece of myself, and I’m not willing to do that. In this way, you could even say I love my failures.
I’ve been knocked down a bunch of times in my life, and I’ve got a pretty good idea it’ll happen again. Some of you may know that as a tender lad I spent 30 days in a juvenile detention facility for a crime I didn’t commit (just kidding; I totally did it). I was suspended a few times in junior high and high school, and even kicked out of choir and jazz choir for issues other than my singing voice.¹ I was asked to leave college, too (you can maybe guess why–I only care that you know it wasn’t for academic dishonesty or mistreating women; it wasn’t for grades either). I’ve had my heart broken once and I’ve had my ass kicked a few times. Worst of all, I’ve seen hurt and disappointment on the faces of the people I love the most and known that I was the cause.
But those once-trying episodes are now just notches on my pistol (or on my bedpost, for those of you who prefer more screwing and less killing in your metaphors); accrued and interest-earning wisdom; funny stories about a very foolish and very fortunate young man who was just naive enough to believe everything would turn out all right in the end. It is not enough to say that I have simply weathered these storms, because that implies a grim acceptance the likes of which will never define me. Make no mistake–I have not simply survived my past; I am not a victim of my history. By choosing the context in which I view my own life, I have not merely vanquished my many failures, but made them my bitch. I’m proud of that. My father died at twenty-six years old: life is just too fucking short to waste it moping around and kicking myself for things I should or shouldn’t have done.
In the subsequent three installments I’ll discuss the various well-meaning attempts to address my unacceptable behavior with head-shrinking and therapizing and the varying degrees of success with which these efforts were met, ranging from ‘not at all’ to ‘I don’t feel my time was completely wasted.’ For now, I leave you with this:
I can’t articulate a one-size-fits-all method for finding meaning in life; I don’t believe such a roadmap exists. I’m not even sure I can completely articulate such a method for my own life. All I know is that my ship sails on the tempestuous seas of my own past, and the life to which it has brought me is simple, beautiful and undoubtedly far more than I deserve. I enjoy my life. I love and am loved in return. I’m happy. And really, that’s all I ever wanted.