Over four years now since receiving my Master of Arts degree in Creative Writing. Each May, I try to ignore where I currently am in life: ignore the pain of wondering how I got here, why I'm still struggling through the frustrations and stresses and repeated uncertainties of being (or not being) that makes it difficult to even want to get out of bed in the morning, let alone consider the meaning of my life in the last four years or where my life is headed for the next who-knows how long. You can go back and read each year's update and see the negativity that I shroud myself in, the blindness to the beauty of the word in which I reside, the overlooked blessings given me, the multitude of experiences that carry me through each year. It's easy for me, to be negative. It's what comes natural. Most of my writing follows the same logic (lots of people dying, malicious vindictive characters, unhappiness, misery, sorrow; you get the picture).
I come from a long, long line of negativity and pessimism--some would call it genetics. Cursed DNA. It flows through my veins; no blood, just negative Qi that I nurture. Like Ghostbusters II. The point is, I am generally unhappy and pretty honesty about it. The only problem is that each syllable of negativity, each pernicious thought, each sulking request for seemingly ‘unwanted’ pity, another drop of negative Qi gets added to my already overflowing mug.
But the thing is, no matter how much time transpires, how much distance I put between me and formalized education, from that forced productivity, from who I thought I was going to be and who I am, it doesn't matter. None of it matters. That imagined life, the fight to be on top, to be the best, to be someone, to create something that matters, or make millions of dollars and live above the rest of humanity or change the world or save lives or whatever it is that people who matter do.
None of it matters.
I know how cliché this will sound, but I can't change what already has been. Yahoo for time and space and physics. It's just the way it is.
I am 31.
I have my Master's degree.
I work at a craft store full-time.
I adjunct teach part-time.
I write in the off chance there is spare time.
I go to church and teach the men once a month.
I do other church service.
I live in a small two bedroom apartment in Rexburg.
I left my home state that I love because I couldn't find a job that would support my family.
Even though that summary is brief, none of it really matters. It's just stuff. Or numbers. Or whatever you want to call it. What I'm saying is that it's quantifiable. And to be honest, that's one part of math I do not miss.
This is what matters:-I have been married for over 10 years. My generation often does not reach that milestone. She is the sexiest woman I know (and I'm not one of those guys who just say that because they are deluding themselves; she IS the most beautiful woman I know).
She is my best friend. She knows more about me than any other person alive. Our life together has not been easy, and at times it has just been unhappy; disagreeing on the direction our lives should take, how to raise our children, what is and is not appropriate dinner conversation with friends, etcetera. But that's okay, because that's how we learn and grow and become better. I love her, and I hope she loves me, and nothing could be better (except maybe more donuts in bed);
-I have two kids under four. They are intense. And I cannot imagine my life without them.
For full disclosure: I never wanted kids. Ever. Those who are close to me already know this. My whole life growing up, I didn't like kids. They made me uncomfortable for reasons I still don't understand. And when the wife and I got married, she knew that I didn't want kids; only, she didn't understand what that really meant. A lot of arguments over the years coupled with a lot of tears. Then, six years later we got (planned) baby number one: the Chubbs. Nineteen months after that (planned again, sort of), baby number two: the Little Sir. I love my children (something I never thought I'd say). I still don't like kids. In fact, now that I have children, I dislike other people's children even more than I used to. But my kids are amazing. They are adorable and loving and polite and hilarious, and just way better than I could have imagined. They are also the most difficult experiences I have had and they make me want to run my head into the wall, but I wouldn't change that either;
-I have been lucky enough to publish some of my short fiction. This one is easy to overlook, because none of work has appeared in any 'nationally recognized' journals or anything that the literary world would deem relevant. Just small publications with small presses. Plus the hundreds of rejections in-between. But someone who doesn’t know me liked something I wrote and wanted to share it with other people. That feeling cannot be overstated;
-I (and my family) are all healthy. Because I work at a craft store, I don’t have medical benefits. And because I work at a craft store, I can't afford medical coverage for my family. And because I work at a craft store and adjunct teach, I make too much money for Obamacare. I have put my family in quite the nasty pickle. Thankfully, they are all healthy and well, including myself, and for that I could not be more grateful.
-I am lucky to have people around me who care about my life (aside from my family). If you ask the wife, she will tell you that one of my greatest complaints is “I don’t have any friends,” or “No one likes me”. It’s like I’m still in elementary school or something. But if I am truly honest with myself, I know that I have good people in my life who care about who I am, what I am doing, and where I am going. It’s hard to recognize a majority of the time when those people may not live within a visitable distance (I miss California).
Other than that, nothing else matters. We are well. We are (generally) happy. We struggle, no question. Life is hard. Like, super hard. Adulting is by far the worst. But we get by, and we have each other, and nothing else really matters. I could go on about how I’m depressed a good portion of every day; how I am not living up to my potential as a human, husband, and father; how I am tired of watching people around me ten years younger being more successful than I am with less education and experience; how I can't handle all the rejection all the time; but none of it makes a difference. None of it, in the end, matters. Because we’re all going to die and nothing will go with us, except our memories. Our experiences. And when I die, leaving this crusty old carcass here to (hopefully) decompose, maybe help a tree grow, I hope my spirit will be able to meet those that died before me, and we’ll hug them, and smile, and I’ll be able to say: "Yah, I’d do that again."