Life Sucks… But I Love It?


It’s strange to be at a point in life filled with so many question marks, but also real contentedness. I owe much of this to the people around me, but also to the slow but steadily growing feeling that I am making the right decisions for myself, and becoming the person I strive to be (however artery-clogging that statement may be).

That’s not to say that I don’t slip up, stepping backwards into faultier thought processes from my past or nervously chewing over the who/what/when/where/whys of my life… only that that complex curtain unfolds less often, and is easier to see through when it does.

I’ve been acutely aware of this this weekend, as I’ve allowed myself to chill without the guilt that comes with not being busy, say no to people who don’t serve me (and, in fact, only send me backwards), and dance like the best kind of idiot around a crowd teeming with people whose judgment may once have mattered. I find myself taking more chances with the right people—platonically and otherwise—and expending less energy on those who my gut has long told me are wrong. My vision isn’t perfect, but its prescription has improved.

I find myself appreciating the most basic things in a more significant way than before, whether it’s my continued (and, in some cases, even stronger) relationships with the oldest friends, the newer faces in my life who have very quickly and permanently enriched it, or the simple fact of living in a city that lends itself to all of the above. I’ve grown eager to regularly reckon with all of the good in my life, in place of the bad or the uncertain.

It’s not easy, or constant, but it’s a muscle I’m flexing more often, reaping benefits that are no less precious for being self-manufactured. In fact, it might be more rewarding—to fully realize my own ability to buck (the fuck) up when things look bleak and choreograph the way things look and feel for the better.

It’s a skill I’ve been shoddily gluing together for a while, one likely propelled by having to face an entire future without my Dad. Death takes no prisoners, but when it knocks you out it’s not just a Hallmark-ian adage that you’re left with a thicker skin. The temptation to pull the proverbial covers over your head and be done with it (“it” being this long, freak-accident-filled life) is certainly there, but so is the choice to learn from the torture—and, yes, I believe a choice is what it is.

Mining shitty situations for meaning comes pretty easily to a writer, but losing my Dad has taught me (or is teaching me) something far more difficult: how to mine the everyday, the outwardly mundane, or even the supposedly-corny for glimmers of greatness and excitement. It has helped me practice reframing the narrative, whatever it may be on a given day, for the better—“yes, he is gone, but think of what he gave you.” Among many things, what he’s given me now is a welcome sucker-punch: the realization that most of the heavy questions mean little in light of very ordinary things that mean a lot.

Categories: Reflection.

2 replies »

  1. Jess – your Dad despaired of you at times, but, as you know, he never gave up. He loved you in a very practical way and devoted his massive capacity for human engagement to the task of trying to figure out how to help. It really distresses me that I don’t have his counsel to draw on. He was my favorite boss, mentor, colleague and friend in business. The fact that he was that person to many does not diminish the closeness I felt.

    Inch by inch. Row by row. Keep it up.

    • Thank you Neil, your comments mean a lot to me (not to mention the fact that you read my writing!) I miss hearing my Dad’s thoughts on it all (positive and negative, ha) so it’s nice to hear from you, as he liked and respected you so much. I still always think about what you told me right after he died, about how he told you over beers that he was rooting for me and felt that I was finally, maybe, getting to a better place. It’s a long, slow haul–but I’m trying… :)

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