Life Lessons in Quotes

Have you ever been reading or listening to an audio book or even watching a movie when you are struck so hard by a quote that everything else in the world sort of shuts down while the words etch themselves into you?

With my recent semi-depression (which I am happy to say is now lifting noticeably), I suppose that I might have been particularly susceptible. However, as mentioned in my entry about the Tower, where I talked about existing structures breaking down and giving way to something better, I have been thinking about the things we do and allow and perpetuate that give us an odd sense of security, but are actually quite horrible for us.

That’s why, as I was listening to Anne Rice’s The Wolves of Midwinter, I was so struck by the following exchange between Phil (the father) and Reuben (the twenty-something son):

 

“Why don’t people do what they really want to do, Reuben?” [Phil] asked. “Why do we settle for what makes us devoutly unhappy? Why do we accept that happiness just isn’t possible?”

[Reuben’s response] “…I don’t know why I woke up every morning with the idea that I had to adjust, had to accept, had to go along with.”

 

I was cooking in the kitchen, listening to this rather wonderful book, when that talented hag Anne Rice had to go and hit me right in the feelings. I mean, right in the center of what was been bothering me, what HAS been bothering me on some level for years on end. More years than I can count, really. And to have it so amazingly articulated? I was in a particularly vulnerable state anyway and then that jerkface had to go and make me have emotions. The unmitigated gall, right?

I love Anne Rice. Love her. She has a way of making you see, taste, smell, and feel everything she is describing. Her writing is visceral and flowery and portrays a striking depth. She makes you yearn for the worlds she creates; she makes you miss and long for places you have never been, makes you nostalgic for centuries you will never know.

But this day I was none too pleased with the woman. It struck me right in the heart, a heart that was trying to repair itself anyway. I stood in the kitchen, eyes blurry with annoying tears, and backed up the audio book to hear those lines again. And again.

All this was on my mind anyway. How long have I gone along in this job that I hate with toxic coworkers ready to stab everyone in the back at the slightest provocation (or with none at all)? How long have I tolerated living in a climate I can’t stand? How long have I just gone along, living in a strikingly conservative and intolerant county in an otherwise decently open state? And when, when in my life did I become so utterly convinced that this was all there is, that happiness is a state of mind — which it is to a large extent — and that I just needed to learn to put up, to be stronger, to be tougher? At what point did I decide that happiness was unattainable — that having a job and friends and a life you love were not possible, so I had better just be happy with what I have? How did I come to inwardly aspire for more but doubt that it was actually possible and therefore never try?

I know I’m not alone in this. I’m strong, I’m tough, and I’ve learned a lot. But why stay? Why do any of us continue in this misery instead of trying to change our circumstances? Why do people stay in bad relationships? Why do we stay at jobs we loathe? How did we become so convinced there’s nothing better that we don’t even TRY for anything more?

Like Phil said in the quote, why do we settle? And by settling, we become complacent, we don’t try for better, we accept our lot, embrace our misery, and revel in our apathy. Then we turn 30 or 50 or 100 and wonder what we did with all that time. We wonder why we didn’t write that novel, change jobs, go back to school, ask that person out, take that vacation… We think about how happy we could have been if only… “If only.” It has a terribly sad ring to it, doesn’t it?

I’m reminded of another quote from an unknown source that ties into all of this, and so I’ll end with that.

 

“Every day is another chance to change your life.”

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~ by Darren Endymion on April 4, 2016.

3 Responses to “Life Lessons in Quotes”

  1. Yo are so right, why do most people do all that?! In the end we only regret the things we didn’t do. Hope you find your way!

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