Saturday, 4 February 2012

The Dancing River

I recently pulled out my old CD folder from under the front seat of my car.  I learned two things, the first being that it's been at least 10 years since I've gotten a CD.  The second is that sometimes there are songs that are 10, 15, 20 years old and the lyrics can still resonate.  There were two in particular.  And so, as I drove to the grocery store and back again this afternoon with two little boys who apparently only have own sound level (loud), I started to think, thanks to the lyrics of two songs in particular.  And with that thinking, came this post - The Dancing River.  It's a combination of the lyrics of two songs sung originally by Garth Brooks.  Yes, at one point in my life I was really into country.  Now I'm not really into anything in particular. I'm into the song, not the genre.  If it's a good song, it's a good song, no matter the genre.  But these two songs - The Dance and The River - have lyrics that if you think about them have the potential to resonate and make a person think about their life - past, present and future.

Part One - The Dance

Looking back on the memory of 
The dance we shared 'neath the stars alone 
For a moment all the world was right 

And the memories are the problem sometimes.  Memories can be selective.  When you're lonely, sometimes it's not the person you miss, but the idea of the person.  And the idea of the person can lead to selective memories.  There are good memories.  There are wonderful memories.  Our wedding, the births of the boys, some weekends we spent not leaving the house, totally alone (before boys of course).  And of smaller things - dancing in the kitchen, trips to the store, watching movies, M*A*S*H.  M*A*S*H?!? you wonder?  Well, when we first got together, we didn't go out a lot.  And he had a TV and a DVD player, but no cable or satellite.  The satellite came later, and was not (and still is not) ours, but the result of an argument between his parents.  So we watched M*A*S*H seasons on DVD.  We made it through seasons one through six before life interrupted.  We eventually made it through all of them.  So when I see an episode of M*A*S*H it is with fondness that I remember a time when the world was right.

How could I have known that you'd ever say goodbye 

And now I'm glad I didn't know 
The way it all would end the way it all would go 
Our lives are better left to chance 

I could have missed the pain 
But I'd have had to miss the dance 

But then I have to remind myself of the fact that the person I married did, in essence, say goodbye.  The person I married is not the person that I ended up with in the end.  There were still strains of the person I married in there.  But in reality, he is quite different.  But so am I.  Ten years have passed, nearly, since we first got together.  And a person changes in 10 years.  But you'd hope - I'd hoped - that at 27 and 32 (the ages we were we were married) the changes would be minimal.  But, as those that know me - know us - know, that the life changes that were made were fairly substantial.  I think we'd both hoped that we could overcome them and carry on.  And some of them we did.  The religion part we did overcome.  The illegal behaviour part?  Not so much.  

But would I changed anything had I known how things were going to end?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  On some scale, no.  If I had known how things were going to end, how things were going to change, if I'd had all that information maybe I'd have chosen not to marry him.  But if I had chosen not to marry him then there are two huge parts of my life I would not have - my children.  And genetics says that it took me and him to have these specific little boys, and I cannot imagine my life without them.  If I'd known, I could have missed the pain of the last few years.  But then I'd have missed the wonderful dance that is parenthood with these little boys who are my pride, my joy and sometimes my headache.  Just sometimes.  

However, are our lives left to chance?  That depends on who you ask.  I do believe that the chance that I take is putting my life completely in the hands of God.  That's a difficult thing for me to do.  I like to be in control.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am a, well, control freak.  I don't like to leave things to chance - I want things set out in advance to know where we are going, so we can have at least some idea of how we are going to get there.  But for those with faith - religious faith - our lives are not strictly chance.  They are guided by God.  

Holding you I held everything 
For a moment wasn't I a king 
But if I'd only known how the king would fall 
Hey who's to say you know I might have changed it all 

Once upon a time, I did feel like I had everything.  And what I've learned is to not feel like you've got everything, because when you do, you start to take things for granted.  Taking things for granted can be a dangerous proposition.  Taking things for granted means that you don't necessarily appreciate what you've got because you just assume it will always be there.  I assumed I'd always be married, because when I married the phrase "tell death do us part" played a part in our vows.  Vows I took literally and seriously.  Because I'd always promised myself that whenever I had children they would grow up in a two parent home.    I assumed that nothing, absolutely nothing, was going to compromise my beliefs in that.  I took for granted that I didn't believe that there was anything that could.  I had always said the only way I'd get divorced was if he cheated on me.  But he didn't.  Never did I think "he's going to commit illegal behaviour, get caught and go to prison.  He's going to have a mental illness he doesn't take seriously which will cause us to have never ending problems that I can no longer tolerate for my own mental health."  So what I learned was that to take things for granted can lead to a fall of sorts.  The end of a marriage.  A single parent household.  All things that I took for granted would never happen to me. But would I have changed it all?  I wish I would have known earlier.  I wish I would have known of the circumstances that lead up to the illegal behaviour.  But I don't think I would have changed it all.  

And now I'm glad I didn't know 
The way it all would end the way it all would go 
Our lives are better left to chance 
I could have missed the pain 
But I'd have had to miss the dance 

So yes, in a way, I'm glad I didn't know.  I'm glad I was oblivious to the future.  Not so happy I was oblivious to what had been happening in the present at that time, but that I didn't know the future ten years ago when I first met him.  That I didn't know the future nine years ago when we got married.  That I didn't know the future eight years ago when I was pregnant with Thing One.  And that I didn't know the future seven years ago when I was pregnant with Thing Two.  I am, in many way, glad I took the chance on him.  Though there are days I do curse the fact he ever came into my life at all.  No wait.  I take that back.  There are days I curse the fact his mother ever came into my life at all.  Never him.  

I don't think I would have wanted to miss the dance that I took with him.  If I hadn't, I wouldn't have learned things about myself that I didn't know before.  That there is a part of me that can stand on my own two feet. That there is a part of me that will not break down and cry (even if there are people around me that thinks that it should).  And there is a part of me that has finally learned that change is not necessarily a bad thing and that it can lead to better things.  

Part Two - The River

You know a dream is like a river
Ever changing as it flows 
And the dreamer's just the vessel
That must follow where it goes 

I think the most difficult thing right now is dreaming.  I will say that night time sleep-dreaming is not difficult.  In fact I've had some rather bizarre dreams that I don't remember all of the next morning, just the fact that they're downright bizarre.  But dreaming about the future.  What I want to dream about I don't want to because what I'm afraid of is disappointed.  So I try not to.  What I need to remind myself is that dreaming is like a river.  

Rivers never really stay the same.  They may have the same general course, but in reality if you took a picture of a part of a river and came back in a year, while the direction may be the same, the banks may be further apart or closer together. It may have changed slightly to go around something that fell in the river.  But it's never exactly the same.  And so with that, the dreams must change.  Maybe the change slightly.  Maybe they change majorly.  But they still have to change.  

Trying to learn from what's behind you
And never knowing what's in store 
Makes each day a constant battle 
Just to stay between the shores.

And that's it right there - learn from what's behind you.  There is never an experience - positive or negative - that we can't learn from and take something away from.  I've learned to pay more attention to the little things with those people in my life.  I've learned not to ignore my instincts that something else is going on.  

Do I want to know what's in store?  Not really.  Do I like to be surprised?  Definitely not.  But if it's a choice of knowing the future (and not necessarily liking what is in store) or just leaving it all to chance (or rather, in God's hands) then I'd rather just leave it in God's hands.  

But each day can be a constant battle.  Some days are easier than others.  But there are some days where getting out of bed is a battle.  There are days when getting up and feeding the boys is a battle because I'd rather be alone and in silence.  Those are the days that I have to tell myself to quit wallowing in self pity and get up and just do what needs to be done.  Some days that self pep talk ends with "so you can go back to bed in x number of hours." And there have been days in the last month where just going to work was a battle, as well as going into town for fear of whom I would run into.  Just the possibility of running into certain people had me in such a state of anxiety attacks that leaving the house was a scary proposition.  But you do what you've gotta do.  And part of what I did was get my medication adjusted so that I could get out of bed.  Much as I'd rather not be on anti-depressants, what I have also learned is that it's not the end of the world.  So some days the battle is to stay between the shores - the shores, in this case, being the beginning and end of the day.

And I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry 
Like a bird upon the wind 
These waters are my sky 
I'll never reach my destination
If I never try 
So I will sail my vessel
'Til the river runs dry.  

So that's what we all have to do - we have to keep going.  We have to keep sailing our vessel - our lives - until the river runs dry - the end of our lives - because otherwise, we'll never end up where God intends us to end up.  But how do we know where it is that God wants us to end up and where we've somehow managed to have ourselves end up?  Part of me says, to that argument, well, I guess we don't.  But another part of me says that there are signs.  I had signs.  I chose to ignore them.  Little signs.  Big signs.  In some regards, however, maybe what we're supposed to do is just live a good life.  Care about our fellow humans.  And treat with kindness and respect everyone.  But most importantly, be truthful, loving and gentle with those we love the most.  And this is something I will try.

Too many times we stand aside 
And let the waters slip away 
'Til what we put off 'til tomorrow
Has now become today 
So don't you sit upon the shoreline
And say you're satisfied 
Choose to chance the rapids 
And dare to dance the tide.

I think that standing aside in life can be dangerous.  Maybe not dangerous in terms of life or death but dangerous in terms of letting others decide the course of where things are going to go at that particular time in life.  In letting other's behaviour determine that, we're giving up the possibility of another ending.  Waaaay back when, I let the bullies determine the course of where my life at that point was going to go.  High school was so horrible due to the bullying that I skipped my last year and instead gave up dreams that I wasn't even sure of anymore.  Would I be where I am if I had had any self confidence at that time?  If I'd done that last year of high school would I have ended up where I am today or would my education and therefore my job be different?  We'll never know.  But what I do know is that I will attempt to teach my children to not stand aside in their lives - to stand up, be an active participant and not let other people's behaviour dictate the way their lives may go.  

In reality, I often wonder if there is ever really a "tomorrow."  Everything will eventually become today.  So as I look forward to the future instead of backwards at the past, I need to do today what I'd rather not do at all, because tomorrow never comes at that rate.  The things I do do, I need not just be satisfied.  I need to teach my kids not to just be satisfied.  Sometimes I do wonder if I got married because I was satisfied with the person I was with.  And then I wonder if satisfied equals settled.  However, there are things I needed to learn from him that I didn't have a good handle on before.  Patience being number one.  

Now, however, I need not to just take the lessons learned - patience, for instance - and take a chance as well.  Do what needs to be done. Fill out the paperwork and find the money to file for divorce to move forward.  Not use that lack of paperwork being done as a safety net.  Sometimes that type of safety net can end up changing the course of the river that is life.  What if I were not to do it for years?  And then what if someone were to come along but nothing could happen because I was still legally married to someone else? So instead of having this safety net I need to take the chance, ride the rapids, and file the paperwork.

And there's bound to be rough waters
And I know I'll take some falls 
But with the good Lord as my captain
I can make it through them all. 

How true this is.  Life is not going to be smooth sailing.  However, if it was, how boring would it be?  And I'm going to take some falls.  I've already taken some pretty massive ones.  Some of my own doing, some not so much.  But I have trust and faith in God that in the end, things will be okay.  And that He never gives us anything more than we can handle, even if we think that we can't.  As long as we realize this, we'll all be okay.  

Sometimes we need to sit back and remember the past.  But we also need to remember why we're no longer in the past, and why, if things have changed dramatically in our lives, they've changed.  Things have changed for the better.  He and I will be friends, eventually.  But we'll never be married again.  We'll never love each other that way again.  But I'd never change the past, because to go along with the bad, too much good came of it as well.

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