In the clearing

The humidity has died down and so has my discontent. The air is crisp and light and breathing is easy. I’ve been taking long walks through my neighborhood, trying to see old spots with fresh eyes. When I can enjoy simple pleasures my anxiety vanishes and depression lifts.

And family drama has a way of resolving itself. We have our disagreements, our tension, but the love is deep enough to heal wounds and consistently renew fellowship. When I haven’t been walking I’ve been talking to my mom and sister. I’ll be moving again soon so I’m making the most of the time I have left here.

Not that I’m moving far away. I’ll be about an hour and a half north, living in a shanty and working in a cafe. Similar to my life in dc, only much closer to my family. I’ll also be reunited with my girlfriend, the woman who’s put up with my moodiness and indiscretion. We’ve endured it all in our time together: immaturity, selfishness, moving nearly a thousand miles away from our families, a tumultuous year in an alien land and then another year of separation.

I don’t deserve her love but I’m grateful for it. Just as I don’t deserve the love of my family but I’m also grateful for that. Only recently have I realized the importance of strong relationships with secure foundations developed and strengthened over time. The continuity of our history with others is an essential element of our own psychic soundness .

The stability of our relationships lends solidity and accuracy to our remembrance. A shared past is easier to hold down and memorialize than a discontinuous series of solitary experiences. This is one reason why promiscuity is so destructive and chaotic. The time you spend pursuing random partners to suit fleeting tastes rapidly dissolves, taking your sense of self with it. When you cut people out of your life chasing carnal novelty you lose your external connection to those shared moments and a considerable portion of who you were in those times.

Purely private recollection is dubious and fitful, but when you can confirm and reaffirm experiences with others who’ve been there with you over sustained periods you can put more trust in the past and feel more secure in the future. Our identity isn’t an image we project, a matter of fashion, taste or even belief. It’s the product of what we do for others and how we organically grow alongside them and become parts of a greater whole. Social ties don’t just bind separate people together, they also prevent individuals from shattering into fragmented, schizoid selves.

To be a mature, individual self, you need to be responsible for something outside yourself and capable of wanting the best for others without envy. To grasp this is to be capable of achieving a deeper happiness that isn’t dependent on amusement, aggrandizement and gratification or the transitory pleasures of youth. I haven’t lived this way for long but I feel hopeful about continuing to honor and advance the relationships that give my life security and depth.

There are moments when the storms of my undirected passions subside and I can find contentment in unstructured time with important people. My private ambitions and neuroses melt away and I’m left with the quiet grace and humble beauty of a simple life in good company.

Author: The Empty Subject

Born curmudgeon

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