Huh.

 

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Yesterday, I got my renewal bill from WordPress, the platform I use to publish this blog. I realized that meant I’d been at this writing for almost a full year. I remember when I woke up on January 1st, I felt compelled to start doing something new as I moved into the second half of my first year as a widow. I think widow is a detestable word. Then again, I don’t think wife is so great, either. Anyway, only a scant two weeks after I’d finally pulled off the curating of Michael’s interesting and layered life and thrown a massive homage to him, I wanted out of my comfort zone, choosing to share my thoughts about all kinds of issues with a faceless audience. I figured that somehow, whatever I mulled about would resonate with someone, somewhere. To date, my 65 posts have been viewed 5317 times by people in 40 countries. Starting out, I would never have guessed any of those numbers were possible. I try to imagine what possesses people to read my tales. I suspect that the interest starts out as a random choice and that for one reason or another, some invisible filament briefly connects me to the people who choose to keep reading the ideas that tumble around in my head.C81D3CCD-7E91-4222-B236-A5776FAD5552

A lot of what I’ve written is for my children and theirs. So often the little events of our lives get lost in the daily grind. I want my family to know what I haven’t had a chance to tell them. They might laughingly say that it’s unlikely that I’ve forgotten to tell them something. That’s okay with me. I do tend toward storytelling. But, additionally, I think this is probably an attempt to keep both myself and Michael from disappearing. With him gone and memories in older people usually fading, I’m in a rush to record things before I forget them. The truth is, most of us won’t be remembered for some huge contribution we made to our world. The number of famous people is minuscule compared to the multitude of unknowns. That doesn’t mean we haven’t touched lives, that we haven’t been worthy or rather, worth remembering. But what does that mean, exactly?  How do you know what your worth is when there are so many ways of defining it? 76493F62-8718-4813-81FF-03E409C2064A

A dictionary definition for self-worth reads:

confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect. When you look up “worth” itself, you get a few descriptions. The first is: monetary value. The second is:
the value of something measured by its qualities or by the esteem in which it is held.
I think how we regard ourselves reflects a wide range of comparative tools.
For some people, the number of titles they hold has value. For others, the amount of material goods and money they’ve acquired is the standard. Another crowd values recognition from an external audience which feeds their personal sense of self-esteem. On and on it goes. And of course I know it’s not all that simple. We’re more complicated than that – at least I hope so. What I do think is simple is that there is a  commonly shared desire to have made an impact on someone or something in our lives. To know that we were here, in our fleeting time on the planet and that our presence was noticed and felt, at least a little bit.46445D16-7FB4-4BED-BB33-01D6D83E00C0
Life should have meaning. At least, I think it should. But my meaning and someone else’s version of meaning can be oceans apart. For example, I don’t have a stack of credentials. There are no letters after my name which signify my accomplishments. Except for this insignificant blog, none of what I’ve done, or who I am, is visible to the greater part of the world. I like it that way. I’ve always preferred to operate in the background. If the people close to me chose to live their lives in a public way, I was a great promoter. When Michael decided  to run for public office, I was his campaign manager. I did it three times. But when asked to consider a position like that for myself, the answer was always no. I recently saw a friend’s social media post that referenced a personality type called “an extroverted introvert.” I think that’s a pretty fair assessment of who I am. The irony is that Michael, who was on a public stage in many capacities in his life, was an introverted introvert on the personal level. Of the two of us, there is no doubt that I was brimming with self-confidence while he was more insecure and uncertain. He frequently asked me why I thought so much of myself when there was no discernible evidence to support my opinion. I knew the answer to that one, although the question itself made me laugh.  What I feel about myself hasn’t been dependent on the opinions of others since I was a young teenager. I left the world of being defined by outside sources behind, after navigating all the perils of high school society. I was so done with other people’s opinions. I shed those like tattered clothing when I left home at age seventeen. And good riddance. I chose to draw on what’s inside me rather than what’s outside. I’m not saying my way is the right way. It’s what works for me. Everyone gets to pick their own path and their own tools on navigating it. 5B288625-2970-4335-A413-F1C666723FED

I do wonder, though, how we all find our directions. I suspect that many roads are just randomly chosen because of circumstance or accident. What family we’re born into is clearly a ticketless lottery. We’ve yet to definitively arrive at whether genetics or environment is the critical factor in how lives turn out, and are still exploring the relationship between those two determiners of who we are. Still, even in families of origin, vast differences exist between siblings. The subtleties in our DNA can make a family gathering as mystifying as a masked ball. Yet, no matter what the differences may be, certain life events are what I’d call the great levelers. Births and deaths, unions, break-ups and even natural disasters, can make those who, in average daily life, would be disparate and apart from each other, find understanding and recognition, if only for a short time. There are always outliers who move wraithlike on the fringes of shared experiences, but I think their numbers are fewer than the greater mass of people. 840D4CD5-B82B-40F7-B500-C050FF2FBC13

The other day I watched almost the entire George H.W. Bush funeral and found that I could empathize with his family’s loss, despite having disagreed with virtually every public policy decision made by both he and his son. And I’m no marshmallow as far as politics are concerned. But I seem to have a deep empathetic river in me that allows for at least temporary compassion for almost anyone. Note the almost. Some people are so beyond caring about that I suspect nothing would shake me from the hardness they evoke in me. heart and brain that walk hand in hand

I get really confused sometimes about the seeming incompatibility between my emotions and my intellect. Trying to sort out and accommodate internal conflicts takes a long time. Which brings me back to the clear necessity I feel for sharing all kinds of feelings and thoughts through my writing, while simultaneously not caring about the way it’s perceived. Quite a conundrum. I guess I think there’s an inherent value in having been largely introspective about the events in my life, and that having dissected and analyzed them for so long means they should be put out there to read, as my contribution to the world. Experience counts for something. I do believe that my interactions with different people at critical points in their lives will have an enduring effect on them. My legacy, my mark is not conducive to measurement. But through these many thousands of words that I pour out, there must be worth. There must be something that adds to the body of reflections worth consideration. Otherwise, why would I be compelled to hurriedly get as many of my ideas and stories out of my depths and into the universe? I don’t think it’s egotism. A way for the most modest type of making a mark that I was here? Round and round I go, spinning in my analyses. Maybe it doesn’t really matter.9499FA25-0B98-4147-AB49-795A5EB4D76C

 

I do know this. The most significant lesson I learned in dealing with Michael’s cancer was that learning to be present in each moment was the only way to survive. We couldn’t go backwards nor could we get too far ahead of ourselves. I remind myself of that lesson daily. I’m not totally zen by any measure but I’m better at being in the now than I’ve ever been before. I give myself to the writing and sharing. As Michael would always say, “it is what it is.” For me nothing is ever quite that simple. I question myself and turn my thoughts inside out to get to some crystalline form of my truth. In the end, perhaps it doesn’t matter what my motives are, whether I’ve had an impact on anyone or anything, or if everything about me and mine disappears. As long as my executive functions are still operating, I imagine I’ll continue to wonder, to try to understand anything and everything. Maybe that’s the legacy. Never stop trying to figure things out. I guess I don’t get to know how it will all look in the end. And I guess that will just have to do, going forward. B92FA28E-A597-495F-B298-A347221555E5

2 thoughts on “Huh.”

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