I was afraid of how temporary everything was when I was younger. Military bases, governments, relationships, countries. I remember the first time I read about Prussia and thought, How does power like that just disappear? Everything is temporary.
We are. Pain is. Fortune, good and bad, all fleeting. Our age, our talents, our habits, our interests.
When I was a kid I thought that meant nothing had value. You aren’t going to love me when I’m an old person because you’ll be dead and your feelings won’t last. Nothing lasts!
But then I thought about the self. The self is a constant. We examine our values and our choices and we recalibrate. We redirect our energies, but no matter how we dress the self, it’s still ours. The only one we have.
And so your hard time, your struggle, your depression, your sudden and exhausting inability to maintain eye contact, these things are temporary. Whether or not I write another sentence, I am always my own. I just keep coming back to me. Despite my haircuts, my boots, my vocabulary, my friendships — regardless of the book in my backpack or the commute home — I’m this woman. This one. And I have to live with that. I have to. I have to be still and settle into her. I have to trust her.
How I protect myself has changed as I age. I don’t tolerate bullshit now. I will not allow drama bombs in my inner circle. I will not work for pillagers. I had a child to love him above all. I married a woman to cherish her. I work hard, and I love even with my dark, scary places because they’re inside me, too. They are mine. I won’t deny them, but they don’t get to run the show now. Their reign was temporary. Power is a constant negotiation.
That is its value.
All value comes from this. We are our selves. Our hopeful, crippled selves. Our scarred and battered selves. Our seeking, dissatisfied selves. Negotiating better. The way my eucalyptus tree has decided to grow sideways because that’s where the light is.