The Importance of Being Earnest, ATrivial Comedy for Serious People is a play by Oscar Wilde. First performed on 14 February 1895 at the St James’s Theatre in London, it is a farcical comedy in which the protagonists maintain fictitious personæ in order to escape burdensome social obligations. (Wikipedia)
I have a hard time relaxing.
(Okay, I’ll wait a sec while you all get back up off the floor, close your mouths and gather your wits about you again.)
Yes, it’s true. I love to work. I love my work persona.
He’s a cross between an intelligent eccentric, a person who needs people, an introverted recluse, an arrogant sonofabitch, a great clinician, a mediocre boss (my minions might not even give me that much credit!), an insatiable learner, an organizer, a compassionate man who sometimes tears up at sappy songs and commercials and a sometimes accidental creative. He’s basically a nice guy, I think. He will never, ever retire. He will more than likely die at his desk. If not that, then at his laptop, or while using his Dick Tracy smart watch. Or maybe he will be so busy taking pictures with the Google Glass attached to his own spectacles that he will run headlong into a telephone pole and have a massive subdural. Hey, we all gotta go sometime.
Anyway, I have a hard time relaxing.
So, this weekend, I decided that I would force myself to get away. To practice what I’m always preaching to my dear patients (who I do like, sincerely, just don’t tell them that because it would counterbalance the arrogant sonofabitch part of me referenced above). I decided that to escape the burdensome aspects of my beloved work life, I would get myself the hell out of Dodge (read Aiken) and go south to another beloved place. I would take on another mantle, as it were. I would relax. I would have some fun.
(Don’t look at me that way. Writing blog posts is fun for me. You know that. I’m listening to soothing solo piano music while I write. Does that count for anything? Don’t make me come over there…)
So, tonight after a leisurely ride out of town and down to the Lowcountry, I checked into a very nice hotel downtown. I went to dinner. A very nice dinner in a very nice place with a very solicitous and nice server named Lisa who did her best to make me happy. I had some good whiskey. I ate some scrumptious seafood. I had creme brûlée for dessert. I drank good, strong, dark coffee. I read some of The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry. (You thought I just made that part up, didn’t you?)
Tomorrow, I will go to the gym for a few hours. I’ll drink more coffee and read the New York Times. I’ll ride out to the Atlantic to Hunting Island, walk the five mile beach, take pictures and climb the lighthouse there for the umpteenth time (I love that lighthouse and the view that you’re always rewarded with when you get to the top). I’ll come back to town and have a late lunch/early dinner at one of my family’s favorite places. I’ll shop for some gifts for a few of the special people in my life.
I might even take a nap.
May I be serious for a few minutes?
I have had a lot of losses this year. Some of you, dear readers, have too. We all deal, right? We deal. The best way we know how.
I’ve learned some things. May I share them with you, if you have just a few more moments to spare?
Loss, even if it results from your own conscious decision to let something or someone go, is very, very real. It’s not a game. It’s not a dream. You’re not going to wake up and find it gone. You cannot wish it away. You cannot pretend that it doesn’t exist. You cannot sweep it under the rug and hope it goes away on its own.
It will never go away.
The sooner you recognize it for the ugly, hurtful, spiteful, angry, killing thing that it is, the sooner you can deal with it directly and move on. Because you know, we all must move on. What choice do we have. Hell, I’m not done yet. I’m gonna die at my desk. According to a very close friend of mine, that’s going to be when I’m ninety-six years old. I hope she’s right.
No matter how many times you return to that place, that state of mind, that trigger, it will never, ever be the same for you again. This is another one of those hard lessons that I’m still trying to learn myself, and maybe you are too. I can drive back there, I can go there in my mind, I can try to recapture the magic, but it’s gone. GONE. It is never coming back in exactly the way I had it before. If I insist on getting it back exactly the way it used to be, I’m always going to be disappointed. It breaks my heart, but I must go forward and find some other way to get a similar feeling, to be in a similar place, to do a similar thing. And that’s okay. I must grieve. You must grieve. I tell my patents all the time how normal that is. I need to listen to my own interpretations.
Finally, dear readers, I have learned one more thing.
There is joy in the world, and there is enough of it to go around. I can have my share. It’s okay. I deserve it. I need it. I want it. I crave it.
I have felt small slivers of it in the last few months. Perhaps you have too. I have felt the pure exhilaration of holding my granddaughter, hours old and sleeping in my arms without a care in the world. I have seen the wondrous order and fascinating patterns of snowflakes and early morning frost on windows. I have pushed myself physically and felt the adrenaline flowing when I thought I couldn’t do any more, and did. I have felt love, coming at me from out of the blue and leaving me speechless and in awe.
I have learned these things, or better to say that I am trying to better learn and understand them.
There is a great importance in being earnest with the world around you, with those you care about and who care about you.
There is an even greater importance in being earnest with yourself.
I’m going to climb a lighthouse tomorrow, look out at the Atlantic Ocean, and feel joy.
What are you going to do?