To understand who we are I think it is important to mine the past. . . the childhoods that formed us into who we are today.
For all the reinvention, desire to establish myself as an individual and attempts in teenage angst to shock and stand out, I am essentially the same person I was at 10 or 11 today.
I often wonder if I had recognized that 20 years ago would I be "further along" or was I somehow just not strong enough in my 20's and 30's to walk this decidedly uncluttered and simple path?
In between that boy of 10 and now there have been several moves and changes of scenery, several creative incarnations and a few businesses and careers owned and passed through. And while all of those experiences add to the foundation. . . .the foundation is the same.
I believe this to be true for more people than most would care to admit and I also believe it is a great cause of the unhappiness I see and feel in the world daily.
I believe those early experiences are just the simple roots of what we will become in our lifetime. But as with any rooted thing, they always remain the life source through which everything else flows.
* * * * *
One constant in my life has always been the lack of people who get into my "inner" world. I have always been so very protective of my creative spaces and, since I was a boy, I have preferred to dwell alone there unless a soul came through who just fit and could come and go without it either affecting of distorting the world I was creating.
If you think about it, that's a rare, rare happening in anyone's life. Most people, I think, are just better at compromising and making room. . . but I believe that to be a constant state of sacrifice rarely worth the trouble. There are and WILL be souls who fit. . . perfectly. . . . without much if any effort or notice. What is more likely to happen though is that people make room out of a fear and dread of being alone. Out of needing someone to fit even when it causes more harm than good.
That, in my world, has always been such a foreign idea. . .
As a child I had, from the ages of 9 to 14, really just two great friends. And from age 15 to 20, just one. I never felt lonely. In fact I do not know if I ever have felt that emptiness that so many seem to want to run from.
David was one of the two friends in those early years who just fit.
He was someone who could show up and at a moments notice, fit into whatever game or world I was creating. Looking back, I think his family life, with a house filled with brothers and sisters never allowed him the peace he desired and the sense of space to create and explore with noone looking over his shoulder. So, we were fast friends. He knew he could come and go as he pleased and create what he desired when we played together.
Ultimately it turned out that he was diagnosed as schizophrenic in his late teens which led to a tragic end not many years later. The diagnosis, revealed to me at 19, really came as no surprise as I remember far too many instances that were strange by any account but, to me, it was always was accepted with nothing more than saying, "Well, that's just David."
The most telling might be that there were many times he would call me up and say he wanted to come down and play. He lived about four blocks from me up a steep hill and, from late Autumn through Spring when the trees were bare on the hill, I could follow him from the time he left his house until he got close to mine by watching out of my mother's bedroom window. He would usually run the whole way down as he loved to run.
Sometimes, and it happened with more frequency as we got older, he would start out down the hill and then, halfway down, swerve off onto a side street and disappear. He simply would not show up.
This was of course, baffling at first.
When I would next see him I would ask him about it and he always seemed to not be sure what I was talking about or make an excuse that was obviously not true but, at the same time, I never felt it was quite a lie.
I just knew that wasn't like him to just lie. I never brought it up after a few instances.
If it happened, I went about my day myself and wouldn't even ask him about it anymore. It came to make perfect sense that it was as if there were two Davids. And those differences are what drew us apart as friends by the time I was 16.
During our friendship though we got along so well because no matter who's game we were playing or whose world was being shared, the other person had no desire to alter it or change it to suit themselves.
If it was my game and he came into it, he adapted to the rules and the scenarios and vice versa.
Seems simple but I look around me and revisit my adult life and it seems that so few can enter into another life and simply cherish it for what it is and meld into it seamlessly.
So few can just allow something to be without making attempts to change, fix or better it.
As an adult, I gave into the idea that it was normal to compromise and to lose oneself into the world of another. And it took me 20 years to regain the strength to see that I/we are not meant to fit with "many" in this life. But to wait out the few who will fit with us as perfectly as we do with them. That's what allows us to fully discover and be who we are. .. well, that and a healthy dose of being alone.
Discovering within. . .
* * * * *
Not long before I left Portland for the coast I was riding a public bus across town and it happened to be at the time the city schools were letting out for the day. As the bus pulled to a stop in front of a middle school, I was suddenly in the midst of 30 to 40 hyper, young teens whose energy swarmed me as much as their non stop chatter! But, in the midst of those 30, there were two I noticed who were in their own worlds. One girl with headphones and Ipod stared straight through the crowd un fazed by their manic energy. . . another with his nose in a book and no interest in the behavior around him either, occasionally gazed out the window into the rainy November day. . . .
I think many people watching this scene would have felt sorry for those two or worried that they are somehow misfit "loners" because they were not interacting with friends.
I felt like they were sifting through. . . and protecting their vibrant world within. There seemed to be nothing sad about them. Nothing off or missing.
They got off the bus at different stops and headed home to what I like to imagine are worlds of their own creation and making of things as well.
And I thought. . . "There are two who will likely one day be
just fine. . . "