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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Existential Angst

Why, when you wake up at 3:A.M., don't your thoughts turn to yawning puppies and mooshy baby blankets and all-you-can-eat sushi, and the stellar educational standards upheld by Finnish students? Maybe your's do. I'm not quite so fortunate. My thoughts turn immediately to my mortality, my regrets, my failings, the mountain of work awaiting me at school today, the book I've misplaced somewhere in the house, and this morning--the minus 45 degrees morning I am going to have to face. My all-time "pet" mind jarring waker-upper, though, undoubtedly is contemplating my mortality. In the deep dark recesses of the pre-dawn hours (supplemented by a lonely train whistle--bet you've never heard of "a cheery train whistle"), I review my life. It comes as quite a shock to me that I haven't been more dazzling. I thought I would be. I had high hopes for myself. I pictured more rose-covered picket fences, more traditional paths, and above all a calming assurance that I was maximizing my time here on earth. More often than not I find myself thinking, "Is this ALL for me? Is this IT???" Some of the less sterling scenes in my life leave me just glad I could "limp off the stage without unconsciously trailing toilet paper off the heel of my shoe." I envisioned perhaps more figurative applause. I thought my tally would be longer. Instead I find myself quite ordinary. No, I'm not on any wanted posters. No, I don't appear on welfare rolls. No, I don't cross the street to avoid enemies. I live a quiet life in a small town where I know probably 60% of the residents by their first names. I teach, I serve, I cry at funerals, I pet my dog. I mother, I grandmother, I sister, I aunt, I niece, I friend, and I wife. I'm not sure what I expected 57 to look like, but then again, I'm not sure I'm willing to accept that this is ALL it looks like. Part of my late night angst also centers around the realization that I'm breaking down; I'm graying and cracking. I find myself reaching for reading glasses and mincing around on the ice like I'm 274. Who knows? Maybe from a distance I might be mistaken for someone REALLY hunched and old. Is there a cane in my future? Diverticulitis? Drool? It all seems well within the realm of possibility...during these early forays into my existential self. Fortunately when I awaken I can usually pull it least for now. But what about bladder control? And involuntary flatulence? And losing my teeth one...?


Shelly said...

Maybe you are missing your mother to tell you all the good you have done in your life. That's what you always do for me. When I try to do the same for you, it seems my opinion doesn't count for much. I'm sure all the people that tell me, "your mother is amazing" would have plenty of good things to say about you.

I think lately that, day-to-day, our lives look rather ordinary and dull. But I too would hope that over time we would see the good, big, influencing things we've done.

Go for a ride in your electric car and feel the frigid wind in your hair. That has to be worth something.

Season said...

In college I heard it straight from the mouth of Elder Bednar that (although I can't remember exactly how he worded it) an ordinary life is what we should shoot for. We don't need to accomplish anything "extraordinary" because just living a consistent, hard-working, faithful life is extraordinary enough.

Mad Hadder said...

That makes sense. A snag in that might be that I've clocked a heck of a lot of hours reading and knitting which to some may appear rather slothlike of me.

Jill said...

Marilyn, You ARE AMAZING!!! There isn't a time that I talk to you, read your blog or hear of all you accomplish that I am not in total awe! There was a time when you were in the Stake RS presidency that it seemed you were the only one that cared what we were going through. You cared enough to carefully listen and then thoughtfully give suggestions of what we might try. For that kindness alone, I will always be most grateful to you for your influence in my life. Then there's the never ending influence in our children's lives....I could go on forever!
I do know that everything seems dark and dreary after the sun sets. Then the sun rises on a new day and life doesn't seem quite so harsh. :)

Mad Hadder said...

Oh my goodness. People DO take me seriously. 95% of what I write on this blog when I appear to be serious is totally tongue-in-cheek.

Jill said...

Good to know. However, you still are amazing to me, tongue-in-cheek or serious. :)

Favorite books

  • Me 'n Steve
  • Thundering Sneakers
  • James Herriott's vet books
  • The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Travels with Charley
  • A Walk in the Woods
  • Peace Like a River
  • The Egg and I
  • Mary Poppins
  • Extremly Loud Incredibly Close
  • How Green Was my Valley