Family dynamics can trip you up in the weirdest ways. It can take years, even decades, before that light of understanding shines through a crack in the wall of the carefully constructed structure that you believe keeps your life together. Getting a crack in there can be pretty scary.
Scary, but not fatal.
And sometimes, as the light shines through the cracked wall, if you peeked through the narrow opening, you might decide the wall doesn’t really have a purpose. It no longer serves to provide you with emotional security, or love, or whatever.
There’s light on the other side, and the wall just has to go.
I had a wall crack on me two weeks ago. It was a scary, loud crack. Dust was flying everywhere and there was yelling and commotion and it was bad all around. But there wasn’t a thing I could’ve done to keep that wall from cracking. It had always been opaque, yet thin and fragile. I could’ve kept it up and in one piece, had I only tiptoed around it, and had I whispered half-truths, and stayed away from the things I love to do most.
But, no. Like a bull in a china shop, when someone asked me to take that half-truth a bit further, I whirled to say, “What, again?” and my big butt smashed right into that thin, old, wall, and broke it right up!
There was a lot of upset. Tears, even. Self-doubt, too. And that’s how I came to realize that my sense of normal is, actually, pretty fucked up. So let me say a few words about what’s okay, okay?
It is okay to be a normal person. There is honor in living a regular life. It’s fine not to have wild adventures. It’s okay if I’m not a genius, and it’s even more okay if I stop pretending I am one, or can keep up with one. Lives of people who don’t run big or high-tech companies are not only acceptable, they are beautiful and have value of their own. It’s better than just okay to have a good, lasting marriage and raise two daughters into strong, independent adults. Not everyone has to be a ground-breaking scientist. Not me, not them. The pressure’s off. They are free to follow their own path, their own passion. It’s good to be healthy, but it’s okay not to be a thin, wiry endurance athlete. It’s okay to make only a modest income. Life would be more fun if there was more money (for horses, and for faster cars, and for better wine), but cheaper hobbies will do. It is okay to have a medium-clean house and overdue library books. Full-out fun and relaxation can follow work – instead of doing more work after dinner. And I mean regular work. I’m not talking building a particle accelerator here, I’m talking a simple job that makes the wheels of civilized society turn nice and smooth. This work includes art. Art is important. It helps us interpret the world and its happenings. Its fantasy helps us endure the rougher bits of reality.
You are okay, I am okay. We don’t need to be perfect, stellar, accomplished, or nominated for the Nobel Prize. All we have to do is make ends meet, love and be loved, and not do harm. If we manage to leave the world a better place, we will do it in our own way, not in the way our families have been hoping for since we were little kids.
It’s okay to live your own, happy, regular life. Go ahead. Do it. I dare you try.