Ah yes, the eternal question…do I deserve happiness? The obvious answer is hell, yes! But I have struggled with this question for years, at times questioning whether I even deserved to ask the question. I have been through so much and yet not nearly as much as others. How can I deserve happiness when others suffer so much? Isn’t my suffering miniscule in the face of other suffering? If someone else is suffering more than I am then I must be selfish and bad to want for my own happiness. Furthermore, I am a good actor. I appear capable, confident, and even happy. I played this charade for most of my adult life while inside have felt as though the very fibers of my soul are being shredded into to an undefinable mess. I have made decisions in my life based on what other people have perceived as the “right” choice. I have felt like an elephant trying to squeeze into a fish tank. I have been constantly uncomfortable and in pain. As I have gotten older though, it seems I can no longer fake it. The glass shatters. I need to get out and be free. I am two years away from 40. I am determined to do whatever I have to do to be happy.
To take the world as one finds it, the bad with the good, making the best of the present moment—to laugh at Fortune alike whether she be generous or unkind—to spend freely when one has money, and to hope gaily when one has none—to fleet the time carelessly, living for love and art—this is the temper and spirit of the modern Bohemian in his outward and visible aspect. It is a light and graceful philosophy, but it is the Gospel of the Moment, this exoteric phase of the Bohemian religion; and if, in some noble natures, it rises to a bold simplicity and naturalness, it may also lend its butterfly precepts to some very pretty vices and lovable faults, for in Bohemia one may find almost every sin save that of Hypocrisy….His faults are more commonly those of self-indulgence, thoughtlessness, vanity and procrastination, and these usually go hand-in-hand with generosity, love and charity; for it is not enough to be one’s self in Bohemia, one must allow others to be themselves, as well….
What, then, is it that makes this mystical empire of Bohemia unique, and what is the charm of its mental fairyland? It is this: there are no roads in all Bohemia! One must choose and find one’s own path, be one’s own self, live one’s own life.
The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Emma Lazarus, 1883
Last night Bug woke up about an hour after putting her down. She wanted to sleep in our bed instead. I brought her into our room and laid her down in the middle of the bed. She quickly fell alseep again but I was wide awake so I checked Facebook on my Blackberry where one friend posted,”Strange to see so much celebration over death.” I had no idea what she was talking about but the comments she received led me to understand that bin Laden had been killed. I then turned on the TV to see the celebrations for myself. And I have to say, I was conflicted also. Most would consider me your basic run-of-the-mill vegetarian pacifist. The truth is I become more pragmatic the longer I live on this planet. I rarely think war is the answer, I am opposed to nuclear proliferation, and I am pro-gun control. That said, I sometimes eat fish, kill flies when they get in the house, and believe that people have the right to defend themselves from physical attacks from others. And though for most of my life I have been against the death penalty as I believe that it goes against a human evolutionary path toward peace, the older I get I have begun to question if some criminals are so heinous that the only justice for their victims is indeed the extinguishing of the criminal from the living community. I believe we are all signed into a social contract with those that we share space with here on earth.
I can’t say I feel like joining the celebrations, but I do hope that the families of the victims of 9/11 feel a sense of justice. I hope that this brings some peace to all of us. That somehow, with justice served, we can collectively move on from this horror. Personally, 9/11 symbolized a loss of innocence. Having come of age during the long span of relative peace under the Clinton administration I really was naive enough to believe the the emergence of the WWW would change the world; that the interconnectivity would create global peace because how could we hate those who we could see and communicate with so easily? We would learn to respect each other’s cultures and evolve toward more respect for all living creatures. The US would be a global peace-making country. But the politics following 9/11, the wars, the politics of fear and hatred have left me not even sure I am an American anymore. I truly sometimes don’t know if I recognize this country. Obama looked the country in the collective face and said he was going to bring bin Laden to justice. He has done that. It feels good to have a leader hold himself to his word. It does, for me, restore a little bit of my pride in this country not because someone has died but because someone finally gave those families the justice they deserved and hopefully a little bit of peace.
After watching a bit of the news I went back to bed, snuggled next to Nola’s curly head of hair listening to her breathe and being thankful that she is sleeping in peace and wishing that could be so for all children.
Peace be with you.