Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The point

In case you can't tell from the title, this is one of those existential crisis-y kinds of posts. So if you're looking for funny, it's not me today.

I'm not on a ledge, so don't fret. I'm just, well, here you have it:

What, I wonder, is the point?

Nick and I were talking about this the other night. We are wired so differently, which is fortunate. Because I get all kinds of what's the pointy? and if he did, too, well, I can just imagine it might be a bad hole to try and dig out of.

Because by the time I articulated it, I'd had my shovel out for a while and was halfway to China.

Fortunately, the tunnel has great accoustics.

I said, "You know, we haven't had fun - I mean really had fun - since our honeymoon."

"That's not true."

"When? When have we had fun?"

He thought about it. "We had fun on our anniversary."

"In November."

"We had fun that one night with the wine on the sidewalk with the French neighbors."

"And the next day was hell."

I love Nick, I love Jordan, I love my mom. I feel lucky for where we live, that we're healthy, that we have good jobs and a nice house.

We talk, we laugh, we enjoy each other's company. (And is that where the apostrophe goes? Or is it after the S in others? This is one of those things I never know.)

I recognize these are not things to take for granted.

And I don't even know that I'm complaining. I'm not miserable, or even necessarily unhappy.

I'm just wondering if this is all there is?

Is it always just the same thing over and over and over? We'll work, we'll work on the house, we'll take care of the kid. We'll try to keep building a good life for him. We'll try to rejoice in the moments.

Perhaps I lack the presence and grace to celebrate the moments. Perhaps this is the problem.

We all recognize that last year was brutal. Nobody denies or questions that.

So maybe we'll take a vacation this fall. Or not, depending on money and time. Maybe next year or the following.

And then we'll come back to our same old lives. And they'll be the same, or maybe a little different. And we'll be the same, or maybe a little different.

Over and over and over.

And I wonder, is there a point? Does there need to be?


  1. I get stuck in the same hole sometimes. I don't really know what the point is most days. I have been working to try to enjoy the little things and focus less on the negative but sometimes life is just so overwhelming, you know? I feel like I need to think less and then I won't get caught up in all the shite. I don't know where this comment is going. Hugs?

  2. That's exactly how I feel - I get overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the job and the laundry and the grocery and the baby and the why can't we stay up late? Oh, because the kid gets up early and we get too little sleep as it is and life is not fun. It would be good to think less but HOW?

  3. I remember a similar conversation with someone when I was six months sober. I said, "is this all there is?" and this very wise man said, "Yep. You're six months sober. This is as good as it gets." And you know what? He was right.

    Are our expectations that life should be fun and games and laughter and wine every night? Or are we in it for the long haul? The late nights of tired babies. The humdrum of job, laundry, dinner, dishes, maybe some television and going to bed without making love because frankly, you're too exhausted?

    Because that's life. And it ebbs and flows. So yeah, maybe this IS all it is right now. But life has a way of coming around at times and giving you what you need to keep you hanging on. So take today and hang onto it.

  4. I think ... I THINK? It's supposed to be some lame grace-in-the-small-things bullcrap. Pffft.

    Just wait til Jordan gets older, it'll get easier, and then you can leave him at home while you galavanating around on vacations.

    I vote starting for age 6.

  5. I *so* want more fun on a regular basis. And I am not taking care of a baby.

    Fun is... fundamental. Or it should be.

  6. Hugs. I've never understood why happiness requires such effort, but it does. Even when people are in love, the mantra is "a relationship/marriage takes work". Then there is actual work in life. When my job is boring or stressful, I plan a vacation. Without the unfulfilling job, I wouldn't need the vacation. Quitting the job would require depending on someone else for living expenses or time and money to learn skills for another, probably unfulfilling job....so yes, that is a frustrating loop I find myself in, too.

  7. um, what kate said? she seems really smart. and much better with words today than i am.
    i do understand what you're saying because i've been there. kind of blah about the day-in, day-out of it all. but look at you- with so much to be thankful for and the ability to recognize it and articulate it so well. that is the stuff that will keep you going. and who knows, next week, next month, tomorrow even, the sun will be shining a different way in the sky, and things will appear less ho-hum. hugs.

  8. i have these moments, these thoughts. although talking to my husband brings me out of it because he's very nihilstic and i love nothing more than being the devil's advocate so once i start in with "what's this all for??" he says "nothing" and that makes me all "no, there HAS TO BE a point. there has to be a reason." etc. it's very helpful to be argumentative.

  9. I feel the same way at times - sort of stuck, wondering if there's nothing more to come.

    My advice: plan a vacation, because you always need something to look forward to (plan another as soon as you get home). More importantly, take a deep breath and try to appreciate all the great stuff you have in your life. The universe usually provides what we need, but we aren't always aware of it.

  10. So, yes and no. When my kids were little, I sometimes felt like the proverbial gerbil on the wheel. The days and nights and weeks and months and years tended to blend a bit.

    My parents were artists/students when I was little. They followed their dreams, did what they felt was true to them, and though they provided the basics for me, I was never without food, shelter, clothing, etc., their attention was elsewhere most of the time.

    When I had kids, I vowed to be present with them. As often as possible. My sweet, rock steady husband helped me understand the importance of this as we raised those two babies.

    The 'all there is' is the point, sometimes. It's no longer solely about you the individual pursuing your dreams and finding personal happiness. It's about being a part of something bigger, contributing to that on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis and understanding how really important that is.

    My son just graduated from college, with honors, double major and all, and he worked as a residential adviser as he did it. Obviously, we're ridiculously proud of him. And in the Fall he's going overseas to work, in a position with his university, in an international branch. It's amazing and cool for him.

    My daughter just graduated from high school, and is headed off to college in Rhode Island, and will be playing D1 soccer as she pursues her studies. She's bright and confident and driven and has dreamed big, and is being rewarded for her hard work and passion.

    I believe that our dedication to our kiddos' lives, our gentle guidance along the way, our constant, unwavering belief in them, and in that what we were creating was worth it all.

    Right now, bursting with pride, and looking at the next phase of life (with a what the hell am I going to do now that the nest is emptying? view), I know what we as parents do play an enormous role in the children we raise. Enormous.

    Oh, and yes, I've had a career along the way. But I'm also looking at ways to give back now that some of that mothering energy will be freed up.

    As we grow our babies, we ourselves grow. And when we can, we need to take time to nurture ourselves, take care of our spiritual needs, and allow our marriages to evolve and strengthen and blossom over time as our families do.

    And sigh a huge, happy sigh when something, or maybe a whole lot of somethings, go just right.
    It's usually not an accident.

  11. I don't know what the point is myself. I was just jerked into a place in my life where I'm really confused. But I think there's a light at the end of the tunnel. I hope so anyway.

    You're right about the apostrophe placement, by the way. "Each" is singular, so it works. I'm not great with grammar, but I happen to know that one.

  12. I find life to be in those moments of contentment and laughter. I'm learning to be present in those moments fully, with the people who help create them so I can really enjoy them.

    And in the down times when there is no "moment" I find it helpful to plan something new. Right now it's a day of country music, a weekend in NJ for tattoos, helping a friend move and the Ben and Beer tour to VT.

  13. I really get what you're saying Lisa. I go to that place fairly often...but only briefly really. In between those "what is the point" days are the other days - the ones where we are just living and doing our thing and having our joys, triumphs, disappointments and sorrows. Maybe those are what lead up to the occasional "what is the point" day. It's like the other Kate said, "that's life. It ebbs and flows."

    But I think that we would have those days no matter what. I think that in any circumstance; whether wealth, fame, adventure, and fun, or otherwise, those moments of question will come to us all. We re-evaluate and question our lives and then, at least for many of us, that moment passes and we again savor those small moments of our lives.

    So, this is just one of those small occasional blips - it will pass.

  14. I think we all get that way, and it's great if there is someone at home to talk us down, out of the trees. Things change so unexpectedly that, yep, sometimes, for right now, this is all there is. And next year, your whole world could be different. Even if you aren't saving the world on a daily basis, you are valuable in your role as an employee, coworker, mother, wife, friend etc. When I start to have those thoughts, I start planning a vacation. It gets me so involved in something else, that I get past the blah-ness of the current day/week/month. There's something fun about combining the excitement of a new place with the structure (for those of us that need a bit of control over our lives)of all the arrangements. Go on vacation and take Betty, so you get to have some couple time too?

  15. I really think that 'The Point' is forward progression towards realizing your values.

    If your values are not held explicitly then it is easy to get lost in the day to day drudgery and feel like you are going nowhere.

    If you can consciously tie your day to day actions to your long term goals and values, you won't feel lost because you know why you are acting and where it is leading.

  16. I think sometimes it's particularly hard for us Foreign Service brats, when we grew up with everything changing and exotic and constantly new. Then we become adults and we live in one place and have one career and the overwhelming sameness, year to year, can be stifling. I try to always have something fun to plan and look forward to -- a night out, a weekend away, a dinner party. It helps break up the monotony.

  17. I understand. Sooooo much. Except I'm 31 and single with a crazy boss, mom, & dog. I keep thinking "This cannot be IT. If this is my next 40 years I am going to have a breakdown!". So I am dreaming up this plan to get a skilled work visa and live/travel around Australia for a year or two seeing as many koalas as possible...basically the coolest, most crazy adventure I can imagine. The best moments of my life have been when I've been thinking "Wow! I NEVER thought I'd be doing THIS (amazing/cool/interesting thing) when I got up this morning". There aren't enough of those moments in my life! Plus, everything is bound to sound better in an Australian accent, I am pretty sure...even snarky calls to the lab. ;) Good luck!

  18. Currently, I'm able to control my "is this all there is?" thoughts with (1) my new obsession with running/training/races and (2) drinking.

    Hee, Hee! Actually the running/training/races kind of interferes with drinking to a disturbing degree.

    But seriously, having a running obsession is really working for me--it's something to obsess on, it takes time, and it gives you kick-ass endorphins so you don't ask the question so often.

    Good luck finding your running! :)

  19. ya, this is all there is - i am so sorry. :( . . . the fact that you had an exotic childhood, as wendy mentioned, makes the "this" even more mundane. i advise travel and FUN. my "this" has been made better by aqua aerobics which is FUN FUN FUN.

  20. Yes, this is all there is. The other Kate pretty much nailed it. I do think it's probably a difficult transition for you as you didn't spend the first 20-30 years of your life in Podunk, KS or someplace.

    When I have those days, I think of my grandmother. My grandparents raised six daughters on zero money and life was a struggle. A big huge struggle. But I look at my grandma, who is now widowed and lives in the same small town on the same farm, and she's happy. It was what it was for her - there were some vacations when my aunts were all grown and gone, but nothing exciting, really. By all means, she should be unhappy and BORED. But I think her secret is finding small joys every day. A good cup of coffee, birds, an email from one of her daughters, whatever. I think that long ago she made up her mind to be happy - just like that old Abe Lincoln quote.

    I struggle with it too. I try to be like my grandma, but I have the days where I'm picking Dave's underwear off the floor and unloading the dishwasher for the zillionth time and the vacuum stops working and the grocery clerk is bitchy and usually those days are solved with some pinot noir and Cary Grant. But then I'll have similar totally pedestrian days where the awesomeness of life blindsides me and smacks me in the face.

    It will get better, Lis.

  21. Yes, this is it! and isnt IT a great place to be when you really think about it. Great man, gorgeous kid, an abundance Love and Laughter in your life. Wonderful friends and a loving mum.
    Just remember IT is what YOU make it.

    We all pause on the treadmill and ponder occasionally if this is all there is. Its normal. now, kick the treadmill up a gear and DO something.

  22. Lisa,
    Hmmm... I wonder whether you are expressing a vague ennui or a more pointed dissatisfaction with this IT, this life. I'm sensing it's the former and this too shall pass. I go through the motions every day and sometime it's mundane, but I 100% know that this isn't IT.

    Life is a long journey and I don't have a crystal ball, so anything is possible. "Life's a river, kid - ya gotta go where it takes you" - Eddie Izzard as Doug Rich. Be open to anything and everything and you'll get a sense that there is something around the bend at all times.

    You might be in a straight slow section of the watercourse, so things will look the same for a while. Kick back in the innertube with a drink, take in all that passes by and enjoy these moments, because you won't be here again.

    Hugs to you,

  23. well *if* it has a lot to do with the new status quo of motherhood and this feeling of being weighed down, stuck in boring patterns that seem more like something out of ladies home journal than the life you envisioned - then i can definitely say i've been there. and i would also say -

    fight it! change it! do something different and new! paint a mural on your wall! make a giant tapestry! start a mom's playgroup in italian! find a project that feeds your soul! be fantastically daring!

    that's what i did. i decided that sleep was overrated. i can sleep when i'm dead. let the laundry go for a few days. leave dishes in the sink overnight. what i wanted more than sleep and a picture perfect house was fun. at least some days/nights! and something has to give. i think you just pick something you can drop without any serious repercussions, whatever it is, and give yourself more room for the good stuff, whatever you decide that is.

    i joined cool funky mom groups with people who think outside the box and challenged me. i joined a band. i started making movies. and what i truly believe is that kids learn more from your actions and mood and life you live than they do from your words and abstract ideas you try to instill in them. so it's better for them to have a happy and fulfilled mom who gets out to do her thing when she needs to, rather than a mom who never leaves their side, predictable routine, but is not really happy.

    i don't know why it was only after having kids that i really got inspired to answer that question about 'is that all there is', because that, of course, was precisely when i lost most of my free time to go and actually find out if that really is all there is.

    but i think maybe something about constantly marking time like never before, as the baby grew, watching 4 weeks, 12 weeks, 6 months, etc. pass by, or maybe just the contrast between looking at the baby and contemplating his vast and unlimited future potential vs. my own seemingly stuck place as just the vessel or just the housekeeper/chauffer forever more, something left me deeply unsatisfied, a whole new level of angsty discontent. and i think it woke up this instict of like, swim or die.

    so come on in, the water's fine. :) xoxo

  24. Reading these makes me feel like I’ve done something right in the universe. I love your insights. I love reading your comments and thinking, oh, that’s so beautiful, and yes, that totally resonates with me. And that makes so much sense. I so appreciate you!

    Kate – That’s incredibly astute. Thank you so much for sharing. It is true – it ebbs and flows and we have to figure out how to hang on and even appreciate today.

    Sarah – I would actually like to be better at the grace in small things business. I think it would be helpful. I currently suck at it.

    And you make me laugh, giving me a target age. I picture him at age 6 and we’ve left a stack of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and plenty of batteries for the remote and we’re all, bye! Be back from Paris in a week!

    lacochran's evil twin – Absolutely agree. Fun is fundamental. Not everything has to be whoo hoo underwear dance party! But I do need to have more fun.

    HKW – Yes, it does. It is true. When I was younger I thought that marriage would be the solution to my unhappiness. But all good relationships – friendships and marriage – take work.

    As for the frustrating loop…that’s the one I’m in. And I’m trying to figure out how to slip out…

    brookem – I don’t know Kate, but she seems really extraordinary, doesn’t she? You make a point that is so very ME – in a different moment the sun will be shining a different way in the sky, and things will appear much more sparkly. Hugs to you, brookem.

    jen - Oh, wow. You have the right personality for that. If I said that to Nick and he said there is no point, I’d be very Sylvia Plath, I have to say.

  25. Lynn – I do truly believe that the universe usually gives us what we need, and we don’t (or anyway, I don’t) tend to recognize it until later. Vacation planning sounds good to me. Very very good.

    Stevie – “As we grow our babies, we ourselves grow. “ I love this. I do feel very gerbil and it all blends right now. I do also try to be very present for Jordan and I genuinely try to appreciate him now, because he changes so fast, and tomorrow he’ll be different already. Thank you for the reminder of something bigger, something future, the importance of our role in raising our children to be happy, healthy, successful human beings who follow their dreams. I am sure you’re incredibly proud – and you should be.

    Jane – Oh, I’m sorry. I am certain there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There pretty much always is – just sometimes it’s kind of a twisty tunnel. And than you for the grammar help. I seriously question that one every time.

    cuteellaisbold – I believe that the being present in the moments and recognizing them for what they are and fully enjoying them is so important. I need to get better at this, I do. And I’ve been so tired and not looking for anything new…but it makes me feel stagnant. New! New and present! That’s what I need to work on.

    Kate – It’s true that the point days are mostly in-between kinds of days, where nothing big – up or down – is happening. I’m sure you’re right that it’s not wealth or fame or whatever dependent. I hadn’t thought about that. And yes, it’s just a part of life. It’s a blip. It will pass.

    Susan H – Thank you for saying that. I feel like I’m not doing anything important (except for being a good mother – that I do feel is very important), in my life, and it pulls on me. And I don’t know if Nick can take the time, so actually, I should see if Betty would like to go on vacation with me!

  26. Chris – I don’t even know if the issue is feeling like I’m going nowhere. I feel like at home and with our house, anyway, I do know what we’re working on and for. But I do definitely get bogged down in the day to day drudgery, and I do question what I’m doing with my job in the scheme of things.

    Wendy – I fear, as I said to you, that you totally nailed it. I love change, I love new, I love excitement and commotion and uncertainty. But I decided that more than that, I love finally having roots, being from somewhere, having constants in my life. But boredom is the trade-off. I do need to plan fun stuff.

    sarah – OH! I love your plan! And who knows where that will lead? I read this and I get all envious. I want to run off to Australia! I want to not know what tomorrow holds! And then I remember that I actually don’t want to leave my family and I do want to know what tomorrow will be like…but yes, run around the world and have the amazing adventures and enjoy everything in an Australian accent!

    Suz – I totally get what you are saying. It is so fun and fulfilling to find a passion and run with it. (Heh, sorry, couldn’t resist). I had my running in textiles, and I haven’t done that since early pregnancy. It is so important to feed your soul and your passion and keep yourself moving and growing.

    LJ – Travel and fun! Those sound like they would be very good for what currently ails me. And I know you’re coming from the same place I am. Well, Pakistan rather than India, but you know what I mean.

    Kate – You know, when my time is my own, when I’m left to my own devices, I am never, ever bored. Never. So I can see how your grandmother wouldn’t be bored. What I have so much trouble with is the contentment. That eludes me. But like you, I do sometimes just get floored by how incredible life is – when it’s not all that different in that moment than yesterday. Sometimes I think it’s how the molecules line up or something.

    Go-Betty – Thank you for the kick in the butt! You put it so simply and clearly. And you’re right.

    Keenie Beanie – I think it’s the vague ennuie. I don’t dislike my life; in fact, I like it. It’s more like you’re saying – I’m in a straight slow section and it’s the same same same. It’s beautiful water imagery you’re giving me, Krys. And I love Eddie Izzard. Hugs to you!

    xuxE – Yes yes yes! This is exactly how I have been feeling. Weighed. Stuck. Jordan learns and grows and changes every minute of every day and I have only gotten more the same the same the same. I believe you are right that a happy mom is a much better mom in terms of what your kids learn and pick up from you.

    I am constantly in awe of all the incredible, creative things you’ve done and do. Particularly with your high power job and two kids. I need to take you as an inspiration and jump in! And SWIM!

  27. Let's keep dancing, let's bring out the booze and have a ball...

    If that's all there is.

  28. I think it boils down to one simple idea. If I'm miserable, I'm the only one who is feeling miserable, so why the hell would I ever feel miserable.

  29. Whenever my mind goes here, I tune it out with this.


  30. Don't underestimate how HUGE a lifestyle change having a baby is. Suddenly even the littlest things seems like such an effort. And you're so TIRED, and yes I could go out and do that fun thing, but that would mean having to organise a whole bunch of stuff. A babysitter. Or bringing the baby with. Have I got everything? Nappies, food, change of clothes for the baby, baby bag. Bla. Ah, its just easier to stay at home! I am speaking for myself here but I'm sure its the same for all new mothers. (Isn't it? Isn't it??) But then when you finally DO go out and do that thing its like "oh WOW. I should do this more often!" My neighbour keeps telling me I should go and ride her horse. Which seems like such an effort to me but seriously - what a cool offer! I MUST!

    Plan a holiday. Thats what I always do. Or even just a weekend away. And when you get back, plan another one. I always have something fun to look forward to. Yes, I know you should be in the present an all that but... whatever. Ooh look, this comment is all about me! But I hope it resonates with you! xxx

    This comment better not get lost in the ether now!

  31. For gawd's sakes Lisa..... didnt you know how it was going to be when you said your marriage vows? For crying out loud here.

    If you wanted fun, you could have chosen a lifestyle like that of Paris Hilton or an International woman of Mystery or something :)

  32. secretwidow - That's a positive approach!

    Anonymous - I don't know?

    Miranda! - YES. Most of the time I just choose to stay home, because by the time all of that is organized, it's time to eat and nap again. And that is exactly how I feel when I get out - oh, this is so fun! Why don't I do this regularly?! And then I get tired.

    I am going to start working on a holiday. I do need something fun and sort of immediate. Hugs to you and the gal!

    Oh, and yes - ride the horse! (Is it one of the horses outside the picture window?)

    GW Mush - No! I thought it would all be sparkles and rainbows and cake all the time! I should totally have been an heiress. Damn, I made the wrong choice!

  33. I'm so right there with you, and I was thinking the exact same thing as I sat in the bath last night. Our life is never calm. Between house stress, illness, family drama, work unrest, deciding about going back to school, deciding about moving to another state, etc, nothing ever feels stable. If this is "it," I'll pass, thanks. I have to keep the faith that things will stablize and life will get better. Every time I start to feel crappy I get out and do something (volunteering) to make me remember how lucky I am. It really helps me get outside of my head and realize that life is good.

  34. In the seventh episode of "From the Earth to the Moon" Alan Bean is wondering much the same thing. After landing on, becoming the fourth man to walk there, exploring and lifting off from the moon, Bean asks fellow spaceman Pete Conrad, "Is that all there is?" Conrad responds, "Beano, I was wondering the same thing."

    I imagine if someone who's been to the moon asks that question, you're in good company.

  35. Lisa, this is uncanny. Like you stepped inside my head, saw what I was thinking and wrote it down. Well, aside from the whole baby thing (I don't have kids). Most of the time I don't see the point. Somehow I manage to still get anxious about things, though, like they matter. The world's way of laughing at me, I suppose. :)


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