Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The persistence of loss.

My trip to Nanaimo in July placed me on a ferry for the first time in more years than I can remember, and placed me there just days after another ferry lost control and beached itself on a marina (or some such thing).

I took the book I had brought with me for the trip up to the top, outside deck, sat down, lit a cigarette, and started to read while I waited for the boat to depart.

When it did, I found myself unable to keep from thinking about the ferry that had gone out of control the few days prior. I also found myself thinking, with pretty much equal interest, about accidently driving into another ferry halfway through our journey, about our boat springing a leak and filling with water, and whether or not there would be anything good to eat at the cafeteria.

Barring the thoughts about food, I realized that one of the curses of adulthood is just how negative we become. I can recall riding the ferry dozens of times as a child, without a worry, without a care in the world. There was no chance that it would sink, no chance that it would cross the path of another boat, and certainly no chance that terrorists would come aboard and blow us all up. Because my parents were nearby, and nothing bad could ever happen to me.

Of course bad things happen to children all the time, and often those bad things happen *because* the parents are nearby, and not in spite of it. But kids don't know these things when they're kids. Thank god.

Years ago, in the middle of some ridiculous debate with my then-wife, she accused me of being naive. I agreed that I was and, in fact, was proud to be. I also hoped to be able to stay that way for as long as possible.

I'm far less naive now, which I think is unavoidable. I'm also a whole lot more bitter and a whole lot more jaded. Which is as disappointing as it is inevitable.

In spite of the comfort it gives (or maybe even because of the comfort it gives me) I feel a little bit more disappointed in myself, in the world around me, in life in general with each step I take towards a bleaker outlook on life. I know I'm not alone, because people keep telling me things like, "That's how the world works," and, "Get used to it, it doesn't get any better."

The reason for that disappointment is that I really and honestly believe that one of the greatest things we lose in our adulthood, thanks to the anger and disappointment we feel, is our ability to believe in things. In our ability to hope for something good. In our ability to close our eyes and feel, in our hearts, the possibility that we might somehow, some way have a happy ending.

We shroud ourselves in depression and disaffection, sometimes because it's what we've been taught how to do, sometimes because it's all we know how to do, sometimes because just so sick and fucking tired of being disappointed.

And I am. I am so sick and fucking tired of being disappointed. The problem is, it's also so fucking hard to have hope.

It's a bit like the story of the boy who cried wolf, but instead of crying wolf he tells you to cheer up, that your life is lovely, that your future holds wonderful things, and then he punches you in the face and runs away laughing.

After awhile you get tired of being punched in the face and just kick the kid in the stomach as soon as you see him.

One of the things that greatly appealed to me about the play I'm directing this season was the tone that it ended on. One of optimism. One of hope.

It's not an obvious, in your face, "they lived happily ever after" kind of ending. Instead, it's more of an allusion. An allusion that, somehow, things might be okay, if we just believe a little bit. In ourselves. In each other.

It's an idea that warms my heart just enough to remind me that there is still a little bit of hope tucked away inside this bitter and jaded shell, and that makes me kind of happy. It reminds me that there's still a little bit of my young naivety hanging on, and that means that it's not hopeless. That there is still a chance for me to believe again. In something, or someone, or just the idea that tomorrow might be better today.

That's something worth believing in, I think, if even only a little bit.

And something worth reminding people to believe in.

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