Existential dread: The feeling you get in the car, when it’s just you and you’re using your muscle memory as autopilot, and suddenly the world doesn’t make sense.
Of course, most days it makes perfect sense. I am Heather. That is my name; no question. I love keeping fish as a hobby. I do what I do because it comes natural and because the world is the way it is. But why is it?? Why is the sky blue? Why is my hair that dirty blonde that shines golden in the sun? I get bad about this, sometimes.
People like to presume I’m in the prime of my life. I’m in my mid-twenties with a career/degree oriented job for a really well regarded university. I travel and gives talks. I’m trim and in good physical health. I have so much going for me. On weekends, when I’m all alone…I get bad, though. I get real bad. I think we all do. I know I do.
Sometimes I become listless and wonder over my purpose. Another animal dies and I can only think to replace it. To keep on the way I’ve been. The way I know to live. My identity is wrapped up in husbandry. I look after animals and that is most of what I am. However, when energy drains of my body and I stop and my mind is dizzy, I question it. I question every detail of my life and there isn’t an answer. Things just are, and you can ask why and still they remain. I fear death and I cling to the fear of never accomplishing enough before I go. I want to be remembered for my influence and not my woes.
Humans invent religion and all sorts of ideas to fill this void that comes up when we cease to move and act. The existential dread is why we march on. To forget. To swat away that invitation to the abyss. The strain and the rift. There’s so much at stake and so much to lose.
I know you get bad. I get bad, too.
A special connection sits in my being for all individuals I have shared life’s moments with. I treasure them all, in a unique and separate way. My mind has filled with wonder for them on and off and over the years, suitors and friends alike. Monogamy is a hard thing to establish the more you add names to that list. The more names and faces that spark feelings in you, the worse off your budding relationship, whatever the circumstances. This is true across all genders, and all life stages. Me, well…I have known this for years. But I feel today to put it in words. It is the season of summer flings. It is the time when amorous feelings kick into overdrive. It is the time when contemplation goes out the door for fun in the sun. May I offer you a post steeped in the wisdom of a 21 year old? Ha, too bad. I speak whether I am wanted to or not.
The root of all problems, then, is the deep desire we have for exclusivity. We want to be the sole mate (or soul mate, whichever) for the one who inspires amorous feelings. This becomes problematic when we realize the world is a big bowl of people living shoulder to shoulder. All interacting and bonding daily. We have no control. We must trust. We trust that we are bonded with a person completely and exclusively. But none are immune to temptation. None can shake the feelings of an ex lover entirely. It haunts their dreams. It offers comparison when comparison is not needed or invited. It can make you unsatisfied when you should be happier than anything. Once a connection has been written with someone on the code that is our memory, it doesn’t fade. It sits waiting to be rewritten. Or reread. Whichever. So happiness can occur, but if enough faces visit from the past, you may find it fleeting. I do, sometimes. People I know complain of this much without really realizing it. We are not to be exclusive unless every other person has failed you or him or her. We are not able to exist without temptation or competition. I know I feel downright competitive. It’s the law of nature, after all.
I sip some iced tea. I know this life is just a funny game of people joining or leaving the cast of characters in a sped up manner. It happens over and over. The final cast is not to be achieved. Only when we breathe our last breath can we know that we have known all there was to know. So every happy moment is meant to be replaced. It is meant to end. Maybe that’s the beauty of it. Maybe beauty lives in instability. I can see it. I can see how fleeting happiness is the way. For when we see it again, we appreciate it in a new light. Ever-growing.
Or maybe we remember the light that was. And try to swim backwards from the abyssal dive.
If I opt to be happy, it really isn’t up to me. It is up to the collaboration of my cast in all areas of my life to feign stability for as long as necessary. It is up to a great culmination of events to reach that new light.
To say if it was meant to be, it will be…..
Is to embrace the chaotic intermingling of life’s pawns. And I like that just fine.