Last week I attended the performance of a new play, written by a young playwright, at the university. I won the tickets while listening to my local NPR station, and took my oldest daughter who is involved in theater. It was an enjoyable evening. The company was good and the play was engaging; a mix of a vision quest and amusing family interactions, and the production was fresh and interesting. It was performed in the round in a quite cozy theater with few props or costume changes and no intermission. The story was both otherworldly with the mythic journey elements and down to earth with the comic relief provided by the young man’s family and best friend but it ended on a sobering note.
For me the sobering note arrived before the end of the play – I was watching the actresses and actors in a dance scene, marveling at the clear enjoyment, dedication and passionate engagement they portrayed when I was suddenly struck, pierced by an insight. I realized that I no longer have any expectations that I will ever again feel so involved, so engaged, so passionate about any endeavor in my life. I was truly blindsided by this painful realization. I quite lost track of the action onstage for several minutes as I turned this over in my mind. It made me see that these hard years have worn me down from the inside out. My focus is on getting by – I often find myself thinking, “I just need to live another 10 – 12 years, till the kids are in college and on their way; I just need to hang on another 10 – 12 years. I have no dreams or aspirations for myself; I just want to see them successfully launched and then, well, that’s sort of where my story ends.
It’s funny – a lot of people have commented on how positive I’ve remained through this tough journey and I’ve responded with something along the lines of “What else am I going to do? You can’t give up; you have to keep moving forward!” I do believe that but I’m beginning to see that I’ve fooled myself – the forward movement is all for the kids; somewhere along the line I gave up on me. Interesting, and as I said, a sobering realization. Now I just have to figure out what I want to do with it. Can one rebuild an eroded self?