i am miserable, and because of it i grieve for myself. worse yet, the two feelings are indistinguishable.
Why am I me, and why not you? Why am I here, and why not there? When did time begin, and where does space end? Isn’t life under the sun just a dream? Isn’t what I see, hear, and smell just the mirage of a world before the world? Does evil actually exist, and are there people who are really evil? How can it be that I, who am I, wasn’t before I was, and that sometime I, the one I am, no longer will be the one I am?
|—||Reinhold Niebuhr (via invisibleforeigner)|
Benjamin Harrison introducing Theodore Roosevelt
Quoted in “Presidents Are People Too” by Frank Cormier (1966)
"The road has its own reasons and no two travellers will have the same understanding of those reasons. If indeed they come to an understanding of them at all.” -Cormac McCarthy, The Crossing
"It’s not so funny," he said. "It was a narrow escape. I’ll show you pictures of it sometime. The humdrum glum carried to its sub-human level. Sunday night in the Methodist church. You won’t feel like laughing. You’ll cry your eyes out."
He tried to flip a cigarette nonchalantly into his mouth like what’s-his-name in the movies, but he missed. I didn’t feel like laughing. A shadow had fallen across us, like suddenly coming upon a hunchback in a hopefully colored tie or an unsuccessful actor with dyed bright hair in the middle of a sunny day.
"I feel like crying now," I said.
"Do you? Do you? Oh my darling!” He took my hand and kissed it. We looked at each other for a long, long time. “I know what,” he said. “I’ll give you two dollars if you can cry now. Two dollars if you can cry in one minute flat.”
"Fifteen seconds," he said, looking at his watch fifteen seconds later. "Not bad."
"Now you," I said.
"Look at me." He had tears in his eyes already.
Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado
It is so hard to get things right. I realize, of course that “right” is often a very intangible thing but still. It is hard to get things right and I am the kind of person who likes to get things right, who likes to perform well, Type A, etcetera etcetera. I’m writing an essay about how ambition can sometimes be merciless because nothing is ever enough so I’ve been thinking about achievement, overachievement, and the elusiveness of right.
At the local grocery store, there is an error in the circular every week. I’ve discussed this before and I am obsessed. I take a picture each time I see a correction.
In each of these corrections the management apologizes for any inconvenience that may have been caused but you have to wonder about the sincerity of that apology given that they never seem to find someone who can effectively proofread the circular before it is printed.
The nature of apology can be so strange and insincere, particularly when apologies are offered because protocol dictates an apology, regardless of the sincerity.
Part of the reason relationships and friendships can be so difficult for me is because there is a part of me that thinks I have to get things just right. I have to say the right things and do the right things or I won’t be liked or loved anymore. It’s stressful so then I engage in an elaborate attempt at being the best friend or girlfriend and get further and further away from who I really am, someone with a good heart, but also someone who may not always get things right. I find myself apologizing for things I shouldn’t be apologizing for, things I am not at all sorry for. I find myself apologizing for who I am.
With age comes self awareness, or something that looks like self awareness and so I try to be on the look out for patterns of behavior, choices I’m making where I’m trying too hard, giving too much, reaching too intently for being right where right is what someone else wants me to be. It’s scary though, trying to be yourself and hoping yourself is enough. It’s scary believing that you, as you are, could ever be enough.
When I look back on so many of my relationships, particularly in my twenties and into my early thirties, I just cringe.There is nothing but humiliation there. I think, “No wonder that relationship didn’t work out.” I see how, in trying to get things right, I was getting things desperately wrong over and over and over again.
There is an anxiety in being yourself though. There is the question of “What if?” always lingering. “What if who I am will never be enough?” What if I will never be right enough for someone?
All of this makes me very hard on myself, very driven. I just keep working and working and working and trying to be right and I lose sight of who I am or what I want which leaves me in a less than ideal place. It leaves me… nowhere.
And still, at least know, I have a stronger sense of who I am, the good and the bad. There’s at least one person out in the world with whom I am comfortable being myself, the good and the bad. It’s complicated, of course. It’s also a different kind of terrifying. And still, there’s the uncomfortable urge to get it right so you don’t lose what you have.
Every damn week there’s a mistake in the grocery store circular but now I am so used to seeing the errors that it has become something of a comfort. They are simply doing the best they can. That’s all we can ask of anyone. That’s all we can ask of ourselves. It is enough because it has to be.
|—||On the Heights of Despair, Emil Cioran (via darksilenceinsuburbia)|
Buster Keaton go-go dancing!
anni albers, “City”