It’s been almost six months since the actual break-up with C (we’ll call her), and while emotions have dulled, the mental patterns that were grooved into my normally agile neural pathways over four years are just now slowly starting to dissipate. Too often in the past these pathways have short-circuited, and become choked with depressive detritus. I wonder…Why?
There’s the crux. Wondering. Wondering is something one only really does well alone. And over the last four years, I’ve been alone a lot. Why? Well, partly because I’m a loner (and yet, ironically, I deeply value my friends). Also because of lots of travel and transition. But mostly because of a romantic relationship whose central component was regular (often long) periods of distance from each other. Of course, this wasn’t good.
There could be all sorts of reasons why it wasn’t good (loneliness, lack of intimacy, barriers to communication, etc, etc…). But, for me, there really was only one. And that was reason itself.
Funny thing reason. What it means to be reasonable or “rational”, is, as many philosophers have suggested, not necessarily objective or fixed. There are myriad ways to be rational. But, invariably, to reason and be rational implies seeking explanation. And that’s where my reasoning went astray and my reason went away.
When something is both emotionally important and often missing it becomes, in a sense, everything. It especially becomes a reason for everything. Feeling sad? The reason? C isn’t around. Struggling with focus and work? The reason? Distracted thinking about C. If she were closer — nearby — focusing would be easier. Abusing substances? Well, it’s a way to dull feelings and deal with being apart from C.
C — and the distance and seeming tragedy of separation from her — became the universal solvent. She was the ultimate “reason” and rationale. The aimless melancholy mental meanderings all blurred together into a kind of pastiche of pathos. The longer it went on, the more epic it got. You can, of course, see the dilemma here. What happens when C was around and I still felt sad, unfocused or was getting high?
Well, the wheels fell off. The charade of ideals started to crumble. And things went badly.
After all, if you idealize something and it becomes the “key to happiness” then nothing simple and pure and real (and even truly wonderful) suffices. All bets are off. Like an addict before a hit imagining it’s intensity, the real never measures up. That’s why the “high” is always followed by a coming down (that precedes the real coming down…).
And there’s always that twitchiness, that uncomfortable state of being brought on by waiting for the next hit. And waiting, as Beckett once suggested, is an odd, disorienting and liminal state. When life becomes consumed with waiting it almost ceases to be. The conscious mind spins and twists on its own axis, floating through an empty and dead spiritual space. Instead of the vivid sense of each moment being limitless that comes from mindfulness, moments seem to drift away like smoke from a fire, dissipating as they mingle with a general atmosphere of malaise. Presence proves ever elusive.
As so many New Age sages suggest, we must live today, for tomorrow may never come. For the sad soul stuck in a relationship plagued by distance, tomorrow is all there is. Alas, even when the relationship ends, the patterns of mind and mood linger. One suffers the pain of breaking up that much more. All long-distance love seems sharply tinged with an air of injustice and tragedy.
Anyway, it’s over. I’m (finally) starting to feel an overall insouciance about it all. And yet, regrets remain. As does an unreasonable hope: that someday it could really work if the conditions were different. Even this is a leftover echo of the disappointment of distance. Were I to be totally truthful, I’d admit that even this essay was a vain attempt to express myself to C in a manner unburdened by circumstance. But, like much of the thought and feeling borne of loving C, it’s a frustrating and futile affair.
This, then, is the lesson of C. A lesson I may spend a lifetime trying to learn…Or unlearn.