As I’m sure I’ve posted before,* my main realization this summer was that life is really uncertain. I used to think, “Oh, of course bad things can happen to you, but, in general, I understand what life is going to be like.” But that’s not true. Bad things are not nearly as uncertain as all the other things. Like, I know that my life will include heartbreak, injury, rejection, and death. But it will also include unknown unknowns: things I can’t currently imagine. Two years ago, I thought I had a pretty good handle on life. But since then I’ve done things I never imagined I’d do (move to Baltimore, write realist novels, etc).
So who knows?
It’s a bit scary to think that I don’t know what’s going to happen. Like, maybe I won’t be a writer all my life. Maybe I’ll lose interest in it. Maybe I’ll dry up. Maybe I’ll find something that I like better. And who knows if I’ll still talk to all my current friends in five years. I’ll definitely have at least some new friends. Maybe they’ll replace my old ones. Re9gardless of what happens, I know that my priorities, my routines, my finances, my place in the literary world, my residence, and my interests are all going to be very different in five years*
It’s unsettling to think about these things. We struggle to maintain the illusion of permanency, the sense that this experience or these people are etched deeper in your soul than all the more transient things in the world. But we can’t just decide that something is going to be permanent and enduring. All we can decide is whether to retain it in our lives from day to day.
For a long time, I thought that life was mostly about retaining the good things that you have. My life is heavily marked by the patterns of sobriety, which–at least in its rhetoric***, if not in actual fact–is about struggling, day after day, to retain something good.
But that’s not enough. It’s impossible. You can’t retain what you have. Any relationship–whether it’s to things or to people–is going to change. And it’s not just a matter of the relationship growing stronger or weaker. It also gains and loses attributes over time. For instance, I never used to post entries like this in my blog. It used to be all about books. Now it’s only occasionally about books. I do sometimes miss when it was all about books. But I’m not sure I could do that anymore.
And the effort to hold onto what you have can be a bit of a downer. When you think that all you have to do is avoid losing the good things in your life, then the world becomes a bit gray. All you can see is a lifetime of slow deterioration (since, in this worldview, things can become exhausted, but they can never be replenished).
Yennyways, now I am making an effort to take things more lightly. Some of the good things in my life will pass away. Hopefully they will be replaced with other good things.
*Are there any people out there who can actually remember what they have and have not posted on their blog)
**Five years ago, I’d just graduated from college! I’d just made my first professional sale (to Nature!) I’d just started this blog! I was just leaving the first job I’d ever held! I was still drinking! I had never written a novel!
***I say this because actually it gets much easier to be sober after awhile. There hasn’t been much actual struggling in my life since maybe the first six months. However, it’s also something that hasn’t grown much over time. I’m not really more sober than I was three years ago. It just is what it is.