Why Can’t We Just Say “Life Sucks?”

When someone asks me how I am doing I usually say” okay.” ” Good” works too in a pinch, “doing well is always a favorite”; a real crowd pleaser. I ‘ve tried the honest, or blank, neutral face and the politely depressed pout too but that just turned people away. Some people just don’t REALLY want to know how you are simply because they don’t care or they have their own stuff to deal with. I  don’t want to confront or ambush innocent people nor do I want pity (ok, I admit sometimes I would like a little pity).

When someone asks me how I really am I refrain from saying  “life sucks,” even though at the moment (or for the last two years) it has. Why?  Is it just not polite enough? Is there some filter we need to uphold appearances even when life is giving us a beating? Do people not want to hear the truth? If someone told me that their life sucked I would be more than willing to listen, to advise, if appropriate, to help them feel better.

There’s: Unemployment. Health and Safety problems. The Economy. The BP Oil Spill. Cancer. AIDS. All illnesses. Death, Dying and Despair. The Environment, the World at large, Fighting, and Abuse. There’s also Terrorism, Uncertainty, Crime, and Fear. In addition there are the “ism’s” : Racism, Sexism, “Religiousism” and” Ageism”. I know we can’t dwell on these things because we would never again want to leave the “relative” safety of our homes but once in a while why can’t we acknowledge that we’ve gotten a raw deal, the short end of the stick, even the much wanted last piece of milk chocolate that someone just popped into their mouths with a  greedy, toothy, lopsided grin.

I know it’s not polite to use the “S— word but it feels so appropriate. Life stinks doesn’t pack a punch. “Life is life” sounds too esoteric. “Life is” sounds like a Philosophy 101 class. Maybe that’s why I have this blog to vent because it isn’t appropriate to tell the truth, or to tell the truth the way I want to. Life can be difficult at times. Let’s leave it at that.

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Simple Truths

Mind sets: we all draw a line in  our minds, a dividing point, a moral measure, for a variety of  issues: religion, romance, love, food, friends, work, relationships. The list goes on and on and how we stand on something can change like a puff of wind to a dandelion. We all have our own truths. We make our own rules, adjust accordingly and somehow, someway, sometimes because we have no choice, we find our way back. It isn’t always easy.

I met a woman at a party a week ago, Kate,  and her face is still sketched in my mind. Taut, tanned skin, blond, perfectly highlighted hair, her body upright and rigid, wearing a swimsuit with a long flowered wrap tied at her waist.  We were talking about graduations and I said that I will definitely cry when my son and daughter graduate. She said “I never would cry, never at a happy event, as long as I have all my loved ones around me.” Her comment took me by surprise. Her face was hard, still and emotionless; the words emphatic and cold. She swept her hand towards her extended family including her children, her sisters and her elderly parents.  It was as if she was wearing an emotional shield, made of armour, but tiny, invisible cracks were beginning to form.

I felt bad for her, for the innocence that one day will be lost. It’s as if there was a vulnerable and frightened five-year old girl inside her, covered up with layers and layers of an impenetrable facade. It won’t stay like this forever, I thought.  Her family will not always be in this perfect order. I felt sad because I know what it feels like when someone you love dearly, dies. Nothing is ever the same, it’s before and it’s after and nothing in-between. Your world changes forever at that moment, frozen in time.

I nodded my head in agreement with her bold statements but mostly, I wanted to somehow keep her safe, or prepare her though I knew I couldn’t.  I knew she was appreciating everything she had now but was in no way prepared for the future. I am NOT saying that you can ever be prepared but I knew, in my heart, that this particular woman, will become undone, so unable to cope. I hope I am wrong but I had that strange eery inner sense that I get sometimes, that 6th sense. I’m usually right. Let’s face it, we don’t know how WE will react when an unknown situation is strewn our way.

I have been that little girl, in some ways I still am.  I was the girl who grew up worried and anxious and afraid. I’m not entirely sure why, part nature, part nurture perhaps. Can you ever be prepared for a life that can change in a second’s time? Do we worry about everything because something is bound to happen? Why can’t I imagine the good, the great popping up like beautiful purple and yellow, blue and red wildflowers instead of focusing on the bad?

I try so hard, and have failed so many times, not to worry about the future. “Don’t meet problems half-way” an old, lesbian, Irish ex-nun friend once told me. She was absolutely right but sometimes my mind wanders, drifts to the “what if’s.”  I have to remind myself, like I am doing now, that we have no control over ourselves or our future.

Who would have predicted a massive oil spill in the one element, water, that I have always loved so dearly. My fantasy was to live near the beach somewhere, next to the turbulent, gentle, overpowering ocean with its moody green waters and it’s whipped foam topping, crashing relentlessly against the giant rocks. The dream seems gone now, because of the BP gas spill that threatens our waters and our animals, innocent animals.

Not worrying is a lesson I need to learn and relearn and I must be failing because it happens over and over again. Why can’t I learn it, I wonder?  Maybe it is just the way I am?  Maybe I was never reassured enough as a child? I have faith too and even with that, I sit up nights, anxious, with my head playing mind games, rolling tape like the old-fashioned movie cameras, reel to reel, over and over and over again.