Better Than What? Reminiscence from an ungrateful bastard…

 I have this tattoo on my back. A remnant from my I-don’t-give-a-shit youth. I suppose the only reason I don’t hate it is because the smartest thing I ever did was purposely putting it in a spot that I couldn’t see. I have no idea what it looks like, except through multiple looking glasses. It is a reminder of the one time that my best high school friend came out to visit me in college. The only high school friend that came out to visit me, as my college was a million miles away from home. She informed me upon arrival that we were going to be getting tattoos. And I said “OK!” enthusiastically because I was the kind of girl that did stupid shit on a whim. And now this tramp stamp is my constant reminder of the soul sister that I once had, way back when. We grew apart, and then back together, and then apart and finally through the magic of Facebook I get to see what she’s up to and where her life has taken her.
I was thinking this morning that the tattoo is far more than just a reminder of her and her friendship. It is a reminder of a certain period of my life. For all intents and purposes, I should hate the tattoo. It’s stupid. And ugly. And faded. And, and, and. But I don’t care to either get it removed or refreshed. It is what it is. Just as I was what I was back then. An ungrateful bastard.
I realized this morning that life used to be so easy. I have always had it easy. And I never appreciated that about my life back then. The hardest thing I had to do each day was to get out of bed. Which sounds ridiculous because it is ridiculous. But truly that was a challenge for me back then. This tattoo is a reminder of the pain, the loathing, the lack of zest for life. I realized this morning that I didn’t really appreciate how beautiful life is until life got hard. The harder it has gotten, the more I seem to appreciate it. And yet I laugh at myself because I know that life isn’t even hard. Not compared to people who have it bad. I have it good, and I still think life is hard. But for some reason it just is. It’s hard to put good food on the table. It’s hard to wake up alone every day. It’s hard to carry on pretending like it’s going to get better just up around the bend. It’s hard to convince myself it’s great right now. Even when I honestly know it’s pretty great right now, and I know that in 10 years I will look back and see it so clearly. Now I can easily see how great I had it in my 20’s and 30’s. So why does it feel like something is still missing? What am I comparing myself to that makes me think it should have been better all along. Better than what? Is it just drive? Is this feeling that I don’t have everything I should have at age 40, is that all just motivation and drive?  Was it motivation and drive that has pushed my family from the hills of Arkansas to the suburbs of Michigan, to the oceans of Orange County California? But for what? What are we all seeking? A better way of life? Am I repeating the same mistakes my grandparents made? Their family all stayed in Arkansas and had land and money in the bank when they all passed away. My grandparents died in Michigan with a small house and had they lived 3-5 more years, would have died with nothing in the bank. I left Michigan to live a better life, and now I see all of my high school classmates with spouses, children, yards, boats, etc. And I live alone in a one bedroom apartment that is more expensive than I can afford. I thought no one in California was interested in family values until one day I looked around and realized everyone except me had gotten married and had children. My dog has never had her own yard. And I’ve never hung a picture on the wall without knowing that within a years time I’m going to regret putting that hole in the wall of someone else’s apartment because I might get less of my security deposit back. And that tattoo on my back remains there to point out my naivete of youth. My lack of self-respect. And how far I have and haven’t traveled from those days.
And yet, I am different now. I wouldn’t get another tattoo. I wouldn’t put another cigarette in my mouth. My groceries are organic. I refuse to consider fast food or pop a food. I know that happiness exists right now. It’s not a destination. It’s not to be bought or paid for. It is free to everyone. I have it already. I know that life will get so much harder than it is right now. I can’t see it, but I have it so easy. My stress is self-imposed. My loneliness is self-imposed. My joy is self-imposed. It’s right there. And trust me, I see it. I feel it. I appreciate it. I know that I already have it. But why isn’t it enough? What more do I want? What could make it better? Better than what? Greater than good? More magnificent than great? More majestic than magnificent? It isn’t possible. Majestic and magnificent are synonyms. How could one be better than the other when comparatively speaking they are the same? Am I actually expecting to live a life that is outside the limitations of language? Well, if I can’t put a word to it, then what’s the point. I couldn’t tell anyone about it. No one else could envy me if they couldn’t put into words what they envied. And does someone else’s envy of my life actually make my life any greater? Certainly not. I already know that I have it good. And anyone who has it bad would envy my good life. So I already have envy and that doesn’t seem to make my life any better. Better than what? Better than isn’t a valid desire when you’ve already got it good. Good is good enough. Good is better than most who haven’t stopped to see their own life’s greatness. And I do see my own life’s greatness. So how could it ever be better than it is right now?  #LovingTheGoodLife #GoodIsGoodEnough #Gratitude #LucidLife

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