You’d enjoy having a backbone every once in a while. But dammit if it isn’t impossible to wrench a broken heart and seize a parting moment of smiles. How many times have I heard the centuries-old wisdom-saying “A man is not judged by how much he loves, but by how much he is loved by others.” It’s trite, mostly empty paper bag nonsense, but if there’s a shred of truth in it, I’ll be sure to horde it all. There must be, after all, a reason such stupid aphorisms find themselves born in the 13th century and still consulted in the 21st.
I lie in my bed, as I so often do, and hum the melody of a catchy responsorial psalm. “You are my inheritance, O Lord!” What does it even mean? However ambiguous, ungrounded, colorless and void of passion, I pry every corner of its words to find a shattering new understanding. And then, in the poignant moment of darkness before my eyes finally close, I can hum the final notes with a stupid smile on my face. The Lord has touched me with understanding. I can fall asleep in peace.
While even that is a far cry from the truth, its idealistic unfolding is ever more prevented by my mind’s tendency to filter through every photo album in my mind. What happened today? And in no particular order, I catch glimpses of conversation gone awry, sour notes played backwards on my keyboard, and food that didn’t pair well with my undulating mood. All of this poking through the veneer of prayer and meditation before sleep. No wonder the calming efforts retreat in utter disappointment.
Very well, then, let’s pay those infiltrating thoughts some attention. There’s a boy. I date him. I discover, while gently sifting through social awkwardness, a laundry list of dissimilarities. More than mere differences, really, they’re incompatabilities. No faith. He doesn’t listen. He’s only begun to know the art of humiliating oneself in deference to another. I consider how little it matters, all said and done. Am I mired in myself, buried in my insecurities again, searching for a reason to break the chain of connection? Yes, perhaps. But let’s have another look?
He’s controlling, if quiet; certain, if not always right. I never could stand the self-sure academic spouting the nonsense of factoids in something like a conversation. But really, one-sided, dry, and designed to elevate or impress, they’re merely the shadows of rich conversation. And yet…
He’s sweet. He’s thoughtful, and when least expected at that. He’d decry a thousand harms against me, I’m mostly sure. And there’s something in me, despite me, he finds enduring. Those are all points for the home team, if we’re keeping track. And yet…
He lacks faith. Content is one thing, to be certain. He’s happy in life–grand and good! But what’s there to guide him, to push him, but education? The flaws of a university come right out in the open if you spend enough time courting professors. Jaded and sick of the business of teaching and building their subjects, there’s far too much wrong to be made the pillars of temples and altars of shrines.
So perhaps, revisited, the choice is clear. Do you suppose? I do suppose.
But I don’t want to tell him.
Is it any surprise? I hate to upset, to demand, to refute, to rebuff, to curtail, to break. It leaves a sour taste at best and a bitter, sadened young man at the worst. Never to be a friend, however great is his soul, because I have trumped our connection with one that lies deeper for me–one we cannot seem to share. Though I’ve tried, I will posit, and spent several hours considering how.
All of this is syndicated news, old clippings and flashbacks. What’s just come to my mind is a terrible revelation, a horrible discovery, and far from my finest hour. It would seem, however sure is the need to end a relationship, I would turn all the truth of the reasons to good things for him. Or I would try, anyway. How can I make our incompatability seem to benefit him? So I manipulate; I mold the Truth for a smile, if I can secure one. And I remember the days when I called my boyfriends manipulative.
Is it worth it? Be candid, if blunt, with difficult news like this? Or should I work a bit harder, be diplomatic, but pointed, and leave no ambiguity to doubt there’s an end coming soon? I would that the options were either. But I would sooner revisit the problems and refigure them into virtues than I would confront him with the news that, hard though it might be to hear, we’re done. And here’s why: (laundry list proceeds…)
I don’t suppose it’s too uncommon to manipulate reality in this way — or, rather, to try to manipulate reality. But what I find is the dreadful consequent is a confused vision of the world with uncertain rights and tenuous wrongs. It would sometimes seem that a right could easily be a wrong. Or, as is almost always the case with me, a wrong can be made to seem right. Does it all depend on perspective? I convince myself of this every so often, saying, “Others see this differently than I do. Surely, somebody has to see it as a right, even if I see it as a wrong.”
But then, somewhere, somehow, I know there is a Right and there is a Wrong. Somethings, whatever the vision, are static. I would suppose this is what we call the Truth.