I’ve had the song, “Who Are You?” by The Who, loudly rolling round my brain for two days now. I don’t remember the last time I heard this, so I don’t think it ear-wormed its way in to my head from exposure. I’m fairly certain it’s more like a Chapter Title. Sometimes a phrase, word, or song will pop up on repeat for me in a seemingly random way. Upon closer inspection, this “message” will appear to be like a hint about my internal condition. So this song is appropriate, considering how I happen to be lurching my way through some kind of identity crisis. I guess I’m due. I thought I’d escape this rite, but apparently not.
And then, as if the gods of internal inspection and eternal angst have me on their radar, I heard a short story this morning by Simon Rich on NPR’s new podcast, Invisibilia. The episode was The Power of Categories. Go listen.
Mr. Rich’s story, Children of the Dirt is completely consistent with this drama of belonging and identity that I’m currently trying to understand.
In short, it’s a creation myth which seeks to categorize the way humans pair up.
According to the way I understood the story, I would belong to the group destined to be unmatched. What’s interesting is I crave connection so strongly that in hearing this, I felt vaguely relieved to belong, even if it meant inclusion to a group whose members have no mates.
I am aging and struggling with so much about that.
I’d like to shrug it all off. After all, I’ve spent so much of my life necessarily examining my head and heart I ought to be DONE. But no.
Here’s this thing, all huge and weighty, consuming my brain and coloring my world and yet, it sounds so banal when I try to put it into words. It sounds so predictable. So puny. Like little farts. I hear myself, and feel embarrassed.
So I’ll continue to brave the darkness and try to write about this large and ugly baby, all lumpy and full of colic.
I’ll risk exposing my fleshy, tender, wobbly belly here, and hope to survive with a bit of dignity.
I’ll share my little farts with you, and hope to make sense of it all.
Maybe we’ll discover we’re farting in unison, like an orchestra of gas.
Perhaps, through sharing, we can all own our own flatulence, standing proudly and tooting with gusty abandon.
So here’s a bit of it:
I am 51 years old. I’m surprised to admit this is really hard for me to say. I always thought I’d grow old and feel fiercely proud of this as it happened. No.
I think my circumstances have affected my feelings about aging and my life. And I’m surprised about that fact too. As a matter of fact, I find myself surprised by me all of the time. Not everything is a bad thing. But I am just shocked a lot of the time. And that’s weird.
I can’t believe I’m alone.
I can’t believe I care.
I can’t believe I’m aging.
I can’t believe how much my body hurts, all of the time.
I can’t believe how physically weak I’ve become.
I can’t believe my dedicated gluten free diet hasn’t healed all my ills.
I can’t believe that’s really me in the mirror.
I can’t believe how wrinkly my parts have become.
I can’t believe I care about this.
I can’t believe how whiny I feel.
I can’t believe how consumed I am by my heartache.
I can’t believe that matters to me.
I can’t believe I haven’t “moved on” already.
I can’t believe my circle of trustworthy friends is so small.
I can’t believe I thought I could trust everyone with my heart.
I can’t believe I don’t trust everyone.
I can’t believe it took me this long to figure out that people are fallible.
I can’t believe this fact catches me off guard again and again.
I fear I will be alone forever.
I fear I will never be kissed.
I fear I won’t be loved.
I fear I will become far too comfortable being alone.
I can’t believe how sad that makes me feel.
Said aloud, it all sounds like wind.
Written, these words on paper can never convey the depth of my feeling.
In matters of the heart, language is always imperfect.
But this is what we have, this sound and breath and squeak.
Your turn. Toot freely.