I Had It All Wrong

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Life is a mystery, like one of those ridiculous Rubik cubes, and no matter how many times I repeat the ingrained patterns, it remains unsolvable. Regardless, I still plan on monopolizing every damn clue I discover along the way. This is why I write. I’m trying to solve the mystery as it unfolds in real-time. The clues point me towards the part of the puzzle I’m currently working on, but I can’t piece all this shit together alone. 

It occurs to me that the emerging picture will never be complete. If you think about it, that’s the best news ever. We keep evolving. This means the future is not yet imagined or set in stone. Obviously, we’re going to die, but depending on the way in which we choose to live, the possibilities are endless. 

If this seems like good news, hold on to your britches, there might be some lumps in the pudding.

The thing about time that’s so difficult to grasp is that it is finite for humans, and how we conceive of ourselves in this framed span of existence will not only define our experience but the depth of our relationships and maybe even the breadth of our achievements. When all is said and done, which I hope is well into the future, the masterpiece will remain incomplete. Because it is not ours to finish, only to pass on to the next generation for continued curation and mastery. 

I realize the current picture looks bleak. I guess we’re going to have to depend on those botoxed, job-hopping, college-indebted millennials to find solutions to the problems we’ve created. They literally hold the future in their hands, as we did before them and all the generations that came before us. I suppose we could spread out the blame (seems fair) encompassing not only the now extinct Neanderthals but all the way back to Adam and Eve. 

And let’s not make Eve the fall gal, solely responsible for the transgressions of humanity because she offered Adam a bite of an apple. Didn’t we give them to all of our kids? 

This is what I think about when we skip the wine during the week. Makes you reconsider the medicinal value of a little plonk.

Speaking of masterpieces, my son Tony and his significant other, Thalita, have landed safely in the United States. And my joy will not go untold. 

I think sometimes that distance is just a test to see how far our love will travel because we don’t know the importance of our connection until we are separated. I learned this after my parents died. Isn’t that always the case.

After a grueling twelve-hour flight, there he is, standing behind door number three at the International Terminal, searching for a truck he’s never seen. I roll down the window, howling as if a blue whale calling her calf, and I freely admit it was mildly embarrassing. 

I don’t care. 

I finally had my handsome boy in my arms, and yes, I blubbered unabashedly. He allows for this emotional display until the police officer blows his whistle and demands we move along, or he’ll write us a ticket. So we load the exhausted couple into the truck and head to the lake, only stopping for a quick dinner. 

I’m always excited when we’re planning a weekend at the lake, but this one is special because most of my children will be joining us for our annual Labor Day celebration, except Kelley, Tim, and Nic, who were dearly missed.

Nevertheless, the house was full, along with my heart. 

After unloading the car, Dante, Tony, Larry, and I land in the soft orange chairs on the cool patio overlooking the lake. Thalita made the better choice and went straight to bed. We opened some wine and spent the next few hours catching up on each other’s lives. We didn’t solve any of the world’s problems, but we managed to change the orientation of the image we’re trying to envision. 

Sitting under a plethora of stars, we concluded that all of humanity is either caught in a giant snow globe created for the entertainment of something we are unable to fathom, or we are here due to the nature of life, which is to perpetuate the species, whether you are bacteria, insect, animal, or human. This somehow glorifies the essence of life, which I believe is love, but that might be wishful thinking.

The evening has us delineating the meaning of life under the influence of good wine, but the problem remains — why are we the only species choosing decreation instead of creation? We fail to use our technology wisely, solve our conflicts compassionately, or value our only asset — Earth. Of course, our demise is inevitable. We have a life span, and granted, it can be lengthened or shortened by the choices we make, but as a species, there will be a final curtain.

Seems pessimistic, but it could also be the only compassionate response to life, especially one that doesn’t age well.

We decided that impermanence doesn’t make us less valuable, it’s quite the opposite. In the context of our existence, we can create things that will always exist, like knowledge, art, and love. Preserving our accomplishments might be our most important task as a transient but sentient species because it could be millions and millions of years before life makes another debut, and like ships passing in the night, these life forms might never find each other.

As Wassermann says, “The future of humanity is that it will come together in love. This isn’t just the most likely outcome — it is inevitable. For humanity is love personified. The will of love, then, will naturally define our collective destiny as it was always meant to be.” I had to read that several times before it started to seep into my being. Go ahead, read it again, I’ll wait.

Okay, I think we made some valuable, if not useless, conclusions and all before midnight. Because we all know nothing good happens after midnight. 

Julie and my three granddaughters show up the next morning full of piss and vinegar, and instantly the house is filled with joy (noise). My joy. It overfloweth, and you’ll just have to deal with my obnoxious bliss spilling out onto the pages. 

A few nights later, sitting on the very same patio, surrounded by a gaggle of friends and family, I took a moment to remove myself existentially from the gathering and just marvel at the scene playing out before me. It was one of those rare moments when gratitude is all-consuming, and you realize just how lucky we are to be alive at this moment in time, with people who have grown into one another as if roots in an ancient forest.

The truth is our only limitations might be how we imagine our place in this cosmic soup, which is boiling over, I might add.

Our days were spent trying to stay cool as a heat wave is currently passing over the entire western hemisphere. It’s like the seafood boil we had the other night. We’ve been unceremoniously dumped in an enormous cauldron. And can I just say flesh takes on a whole new texture when we’re allowed to seethe for hours in the unrelenting sun? I have developed a new respect for how we cook our food. 

We did the usual when trying not to get heatstroke. We hydrated while floating in the murky water of Clearlake (hopelessly ironic) and parked ourselves on the water’s edge for the better part of the day. This is the place where land and liquid fuse, overlap, and reshape each other, just like the people. The stories come out, our dreams take form, and we add a few new pieces to that ever-evolving puzzle.

All that is required is that we keep showing up and never stop asking each other, “What are you thinking about?” It’s not about getting an answer to the question, as John Koenig notes; it’s the act of asking, of trying to reach across the gap, working through the mystery — that is what’s worth holding on to. That’s the feeling that must be kept alive, even if we never solve the puzzle.

Tony is refurbishing his career just as Larry and I are ending our labors in the world. We’re traveling while he and Thalita are both literally climbing mountains and corporate ladders simultaneously. It’s somewhat strange to be at opposite ends of our resumes and our vigor, but the beginning and the end are both significant places to encounter, and the labor required to rebirth ourselves is quite real. 

The years continue to pass, and my children now hold the stories of long days, hard work, and great joy, but my fear is that some of these stories I may never come to know. And they may never know all the things I’ve learned in this life, the people I’ve loved, the patterns I cherish, or the bruises I’ve kissed. All we can do is live each day, knowing we are no longer umbilically connected but embracing the moments when we come together. 

Life is certainly a puzzle, but sometimes the answer requires a leap of faith. 

Then it hits me.

This could be really big or total bullshit.

I’m sure you have thoughts but now is not the time.

Maybe we’re not the puzzle. What if we’re the pieces? That’s it. We’re not supposed to find the pieces so we can put them together. We are the damn pieces and what we’re supposed to do is come together. Booyah. We know the world is broken and that, my friends, might be how we stop breaking.

And this is the closest I’ve come to understanding divine love.  

I’m Living in the Gap, deciphering the meaning of life, care to join me in the comments?

42 Comments

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  1. I’m with Hobbes after he and Calvin looked at the stars and realized how vast the universe is. “It makes you wonder why humans think they’re such big screaming deals.”

    I’m also with Camus in the Myth of Sisyphus. Man has a deep need for meaning, the universe doesn’t care. That doesn’t mean we can’t figure out what’s important to us and live our values. That has worked for me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. These observations are gold Cheerful Monk! We really aren’t “such a big screaming deal,” in the cosmic realm of things but damn, I believe my kids might be. All kids really because they’re our hope. And I agree, the meaning of life might be more about living out the mystery of love than solving it. Oh, I so appreciate you adding to the discussion! Hugs, C

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  2. You got it. It’s about love. It’s about family, friends and coming together in fragmented pieces to create our whole life. “We are the damn pieces and what we’re supposed to do is come together.” Well said. We’re only on this planet for a short time. Let’s make the most of it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I believe the sentiment, “let’s make the most of it,” is what I was trying to arrive at E. Thank you for clarifying. It seems as if the closer I come to the finish line in my little race, the more I want to live fully, in the moment, with the people I love. So our collective conclusion is Tony should live in my guest room permanently so my dreams can be fulfilled! Bahaha, and what about his dreams? There’s the lump in the pudding. Thanks for joining in the discussion, hugs, c

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jane, oh my, special puzzle pieces? That’s so interesting! We are all so incredibly unique but the weird thing is we all have the ability to connect. Right? Every piece is interchangeable. if indeed we are the pieces, and that might be why we can’t get a handle on the final image. It’s an infinite, eternal, dare I say deathless sort of thing. Okay, I admit, I need some coffee or I’ll go right over the edge. Thanks for joining in the fray Jane, Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s all about the love Dorothy, and I’m certainly wallowing in it while my son’s in town. How lucky are we that we can both feel and receive love. Not all species are so endowed. Thanks so much for the kind words and joining me in the comments! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks LA, I love instigating a little head spin! And I am loving the full house. My daughter Kelley is coming in from New York soon with her husband and we’ll all be in one zip code for about a week. I’m over the moon. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m finally settling in here in my new home and appreciating having the whole family, excluding idiot ex-spouse, all together again in not only the same time zone but even the same part of one state!

        I had such a great time with my daughters AND their significant others for Sunday brunch that I told them how wonderful it was to be able to get together on the weekend so we all could catch up with each other. I think they liked hearing me say that, without tears then though they’re starting to fall now. that they are already trying to locate a place for the next one after one of them moves to another city two hours away.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s wonderful that you’re settling into your new place, and starting to create such special memories with your daughters and their significant others. There’s nothing better than family dinner and time to catch up with each other. And I love the tears because we just let them fall when it comes to spending time with our precious kids. So happy for you. Hugs, C

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I love reading your posts. I find myself noting the different words and phrases you include that make me smile. It began with britches today, then plonk and the blue whale call! ♥
    I liked your message and admired your time together with family cooling off. Perspective grows as we get older, and yes it is true – it is probably much later than I think it is. Time is something we find a hard time to grasp and waste.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Oh my goodness, you are adorable, David. Thank you for noticing the subtle humor I so painstakingly slip into the post just to garner a smile or two. I agree time is our greatest asset, and I’m amazed how easily I can waste an hour without thinking, and then it is gone. I’m beginning to miss some of those minutes. Thanks so much for joining me in the comments and for trying to capture the concept of time with me. Hugs, C

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  4. “We are the damn pieces and what we’re supposed to do is come together.” That is so incredibly wise and I think you’re absolutely right. We’ll never be whole until we all come together.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love this Pooja, “we’ll never be whole until we all come together.” You zeroed in on the most important point and nailed it. Thank you. I think the important word here is “all” and that might be our biggest hurdle. I so appreciate you diving in here and wrestling with these concepts. Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I truly enjoy your posts. You have such a way with words. “ This somehow glorifies the essence of life, which I believe is love,” this is one of my favorite lines. I am glad you got most of your family together and had a wonderful time. 🤗❤️🙏

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Scott. and thank you for highlighting the core of our discussion. The essence of life is love and maybe that is why there is no beginning or end. I have to say I adore arguing the meaning of life on a dark patio under the stars with those I love most in life! Thanks so much for joining me in the comments! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Cheryl, what a deep post. I just love how your mind thinks! Your thoughts on how “our framed span of existence” is meant to be passed on, really spoke to me. I often wonder myself, if I have left anything worthwhile for my children and grand to cultivate in the future. So glad that you had time with your son and family during the holiday weekend. And yes, I agree that love truly is the answer to all the junk we face today. Here’s to good food, good wine, great friends, and conversations! Best Wishes! Leigh

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Leigh, you might be one of the few people on this planet that loves how my mind works, but I greatly appreciate your kind words. When I watch my grandchildren playing grown-up in the back yard I realize how closely they watch and emulate our words and actions. It seems as if we have many opportunities to offer better ways of communicating, showing compassion, and working out our problems. It’s been so wonderful having Tony home and especially watching how three generations come together and interact with each other. We’re the pieces! Hugs, C

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Life really is a crazy, joyful adventure, and I like how you say, “keep questioning as we live.” I believe that’s why I love to write, it teases the questions out of the story, and allows us to play with those pieces for a while! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a wonderful reflection on the generations and the simple pleasures of sitting with feet in the water, a cold beer and good friends. Having been nomadic most of my life I have worked on the premis that ‘home is where the heart is’. As a collective we are not entirely to blame for today’s woes but we certainly have played a part in over indulging ourselves in our quest to be happy. Especially when it is the simple things in life which are often the most precious.. ♥

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    1. Thank you Sally, we’ve been squeezing every moment possible out of Tony’s time with us as there’s so much time in between visits! And you’re right, we have certainly added to the problems in the world by “indulging ourselves in our quest to be happy.” We often forget home is where the heart is and I agree a simple life is so much more appealing than complicated! Hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Cheryl, what a great post;I laughed I cried, I laughed again, relating to so much, including all the Momming and having a grateful heart.I enjoy reading your posts and I’m glad you have this precious time with family.

    From your piece, I JUST THOUGHT THIS, THIS MORNING😆…
    “We concluded that all of humanity is either caught in a giant snow globe created for the entertainment of something we are unable to fathom…” I think you nailed it all in your blog reflections, at least for now, and it was definitely a wine kind of convo (or not, as you like). I will be rereading this blog post soon, hopefully with a Margarita, in my screen tent, late afternoon sun on my face, laughing at your relatable observations of life. You do take readers through a range of emotions. Thank you. I think you should try your hand at writing Folk Song lyrics. Find me when you do. 😉Hugs, Annie✌🏽💖🎶🎨📚

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