Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Only This and Nothing More?

I'm feeling a bit existential today.

Calvin and Hobbes
I spent the weekend visiting my family in Pennsylvania. I wanted my children to visit my mom before she started chemo therapy.

We drove from VA to PA Friday. I left early to avoid rush hour. But shortly before we reached the Mason-Dixon line, traffic ground to a halt. Apparently, an old fertilizer truck flipped, spilling hazardous materials all over the highway. I got the kids out and we played on the side of the road for nearly three hours.

We finally made it to my parents' house. My mom was in agony. Her back has been causing her a great deal of pain since her tumor removal surgery in June. It was so bad she was crying and making remarks about taking one of every pain pill and not waking up just to end the pain. Fortunately, she wasn't really serious about that. But still, seeing your parent in such a painful and vulnerable state is hard. And knowing it is going to get worse once she starts the six months of chemo is even harder.

My brothers were there. It's always nice to see them. And the kids - my son especially - really love playing with the uncles. We found a treasure trove of legos in the attic. My brothers and son sat on the living room floor for hours building castles and having lego battles. My boy was in heaven.

The next day, my grandparents visited. My grandmother is slowly losing her mind. I think I've had the same conversation with her almost every time we've talked for the last four months. It's really sad. She had such a sharp mind and now it's faded and torn like an old news paper.

When it was time to head back to Virginia, my daughter cried like her heart was being torn out. Leaving loved ones is always so hard on her.

Once again, the vengeful gods of MD I-70 struck. Traffic halted then we were diverted to back roads through the Middle of Nowhere, MD as the highway was closed due to a fatal accident.

Back in Virginia, it was nice to be with my husband again. But, he's mired in depression. He lost his job last month. He had four interviews with one company and had very good reason to believe he had the job, but then was rejected. It was soul-crushing for him.

And things between the two of us were not quite right. There was a big fight - the kind of fight that ends with us pondering whether or not we want to just walk away and get a divorce. Some soul-searching and some long, heart-felt conversations along with a dinner date (thanks to a good friend who was able to watch the kids last minute), brought us to the conclusion that we really do love each other and will work hard to keep the marriage going.

The accidents, my mom, my grandma have me thinking of mortality.

My husband's job search and our marital drama have me thinking of the arduousness of being an adult. And what do we get out of all the hardship, hard work and toil?

If I died today, what would the sum of my existence be? What have I done with my life to make it worth while? And seeing my son so happy immersed in his toys with his uncles made me ponder: what is it that makes me that happy?

I can say I am happy with my family. I do love my husband very much and my children really are shining lights of happiness in my life. But I don't get to spend much quality time with them. The majority of my life is now spent working. I like my job enough and coming to work isn't torture, like some jobs I've had, but I don't really love it.

We work because we have to. That's what brings in the money. I work the kind of job I have because it pays very well and has very good benefits. And that takes care of my family. But shouldn't we spend most of our time doing something we really love? Something that brings joy into our lives? The thing is, I don't think most of us even know what we would do with ourselves. I have been pondering this very question a lot recently, since the Gothic Council debated what we felt would be the best goth job for us.

We are so programmed to do what brings in the most money. Everything in our society is so materialistic and capitalistic in its basis. We have lost sight of what is really important. It's not what things you have, because ultimately, things can't make you truly happy. In fact, having all those things often is the root of all of our stress.

I'm feeling a need to simplify things in my life. Get rid of things. Change focus. Figure out what it is that brings joy and peace to my life. I don't have the answers right now. But I plan on meditating on this and finding the right, or best path for me.

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