Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Reflections on mis-remembering

"My life is a collection of my best impulses," says Andra in one of her Mondo Beyondo lessons.

My answer to that? My life is a collection of mostly ignored impulses.

Not ignored, exactly. But shelved. Put on the back burner. Saved for later, when it's a more practical time to be frivolous. (As if practicality and frivolity have any business being in the same room together.)

I've always been cautious. Always been practical. Always buttoned down, studied hard, played by the rules. And I've always regretted it. Always wished I would've lightened up a little in my younger years, and chased after a few more of my dreams. Always thought of the things I could've accomplished if I would've just let go of being uber responsible for a minute, and had some of the adventures I've always wanted to have.

Except that's not entirely accurate. That's how I remember it most days. But most days, I remember it wrong. I remember it from where I am now, instead of where I was then. I remember it from the dreams I have now (which all seem like they'd be easier to accomplish if I didn't have responsibilities like kids and mortgages to think about; things I didn't have to think about when I was younger) instead of the dreams I had then.

I had different dreams then. Sometimes I forget that. Sometimes I forget that some of those uber responsible choices I made were specifically to accomplish those dreams, not these ones.

For example, I worked a lot in high school. Why, I wonder, did I not chill out and enjoy my unencumbered youth? What the hell did I need to work all those hours for?

And then I remember: because I wanted to be a dancer. Because my single mother couldn't afford the hours of dance classes I wanted to take every day. So I worked. I worked, and I paid for my own tuition at three different dance studios across town. I worked and I paid for the pointe shoes and tap shoes and tap heels and jazz shoes and jazz sneakers and character shoes and tights and leotards and costumes that were required for this rather expensive hobby of mine. Except that it wasn't a hobby; it was all I wanted to do. I worked at the ballet studio where I took class, so that I could take even more classes for a reduced tuition; I became part of their performing group; I took on the role of scheduling our performances, hunting down more and more opportunities so that I (I mean we) could perform more often.

And I had a freaking blast.

But sometimes I forget that...

Fast forward to college. Again with the working, often full-time with a full course load. Why didn't I chill out and enjoy college life? Better yet, why didn't I go far, far away to college like I'd planned?

And then I remember: because one of my dreams was to graduate from college without massive student loans to pay off. Hello, in-state tuition. Also? I wanted to study dance, and the in-state university I went to just happens to have one of the best modern dance programs in the nation.
(Let's pause for a minute there, and repeat. I wanted to study dance. And I have the nerve to call myself practical.) And I did it - I was a dance major. But that's not all I wanted to study. I wanted to study communications and psychology and sociology and art history and literature and more literature and more literature. I double majored (though I gave up a few credits short of my psych degree) and minored in all sorts of things. I had to worked to pay for all the extra credits I took every quarter, including summer quarters, because I couldn't get enough of learning. I had to work to pay for the extra dance classes and workshops and intensives I took outside of my already grueling dance major credit requirements, because I couldn't get enough of dancing.

And I had a freaking blast.

But sometimes I forget that...

And then after graduation. Why didn't I pursue dance professionally? Why did I stick with my boring corporate college job until that grew into a career? Why didn't I travel the world?

And then I remember: because I was burnt out on dance. Because my aching knees needed some serious rest. Because the idea of teaching class at eight different dance studios all over the county and still not making enough money to pay my measly rent didn't sound appealing. Because I wanted to buy a house (which I did, when I was only 24). Because my boring corporate job promoted me into a marketing position that (at least for a time) I found very challenging and interesting, and I eventually worked my way up to managing the entire marketing department. And because I got married and had a beautiful baby boy.

And it was good, and what I wanted at the time.

But sometimes I forget that...

And so to consider my life a collection of mostly ignored impulses really isn't fair. They're maybe not the same impulses I'd have now, but that doesn't make them any less valid. It is true that, after several years in a bad marriage, followed by several more exhausting years as a single mother, following impulses (or even noticing them) became a bit of a luxury. I spent a number of those years depressed. For a number of those years, getting by was the only dream to pursue. But I've let those years color my view of the years that preceded them. And, frankly, the years that came after them as well.

Is my current relationship not the result of scoffing at reason and following my gut instinct? Following it through heart break and depression and a two-year multi-state separation (me in Seattle, him in Dallas) with no idea of when he might be back (he is now), all because my gut insisted that he was the only one for me?



Maybe my life is a collection of my best impulses, after all.


Nicki said...

Give yourself a break! Clearly you are driven and goal oriented and still a dreamer. What a lovely, healthy combination.

Sarahf said...

You make your life sound full and exciting. Sounds like you are a practical dreamer. Pretty good balance, I'd have thought.

T said...

And I thought *I* was driven. Sheesh!


Me said...

Love this post, gave me chills :)

Cat said...

I love this post. I need to inventory my life like this, I might find a lot more value.

オテモヤン said...


BigLittleWolf said...

I adore this post. Utterly real, flows like an arabesque (like that?) and besides, I can relate.

Sounds like you are doing you. And that's as good as it gets in my book. And with more adventures to come.

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