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Just some thoughts...

You know, I was writing in my journal this morning (yes, it is 7am and I'm awake...very odd for me) and I've just had a lot on my mind lately. Andrew and I are doing really well. I'm grateful for that. He really does treat me well, and I'm very happy with him. David jokes that we should just be attached at the hip to make things easier on the both of us! I spend a lot of time at his place now, and at times, he comes over to visit me at mine (usually on Project Runway evenings since he hasn't a television). He's a sweetheart, and things really seem to be going well. It's nice to finally have someone in life who understands, and is willing to be there for you nonetheless.

But what had me up thinking tonight is the idea that our lives are just stories. We work and slave and in the end, all that we have to show for all of this hard work are the stories that we can tell. And the weird thing is, I work all my life and every day to try to make things perfect and to try to be the best person that I can be, and when I look back on things, I forget probably more than half of the actual details of the experiences that I've had. I mean, the mind is fallible and when things like this happen, we have nothing left to do but fill in the cracks with something that seems right. In essence, we make up our lives. So all that work, and all that struggling gets reduced to something that is imaginary anyway. And while the made up story may be close to what actually happened, it's still not the reality of the situation. And yet, it is reality. It's the only reality there is because that moment lives only in your head now. And whatever you make of that moment before you tell it to someone is how that moment will be portrayed to them. They will (unless they were actually there with you) know nothing but what you communicate, and in this way, you are making up your life. All the years spent fretting through school, and all the exams that were studied for, and all the time crunched in for just a few moments with friends...these are the times that may be remembered, or may be forgotten. The old saying that life is what you make of it is really true. Life really is nothing but the details that you remember. In the end, that's how you are going to look back and see your life.

Have you ever had a memory that you weren't really sure that happened? I've done this a number of times. Sometimes I have very vivid dreams and they are things that stick with me in my mind. Sometimes years later, I reflect on these memories and wonder if they were really part of my life or if they were all dreamed once upon a time. Places that I recall in my youth that I'm not really sure existed, times spent with people that I'm not really sure that actually happened...these are the types of things that I'm talking about. And I think the older we get, the more we confuse these things. Yet, at the same time, I think often times we tell ourselves that we'd know the difference between a dream and the real thing, so we count these things as reality. I know that I sometimes do. Maybe I'm alone in this, and maybe I'm a little bit crazy or absent minded, I don't know, but it seems to me that it's perfectly normal. I see all these things clearly in my mind (or not so clearly, however you want to look at it), and I include them in my story. My question then is this: If all we have are memories of our lives to tell our story and really fall back on, aren't these memories every bit as real as anything we've actually experienced? If I believe that way back when, I found this little path in the woods near my house and I explored it and had a campfire there with some friends, and in "reality" that never happened, but was rather just a dream, isn't that experience just as real as anything else? I mean, it's how I remember it, and I remember it happening just as much as anything that actually took place. To me, it's real.

That's the funny thing about our minds. We like to tell ourselves stories to get us through situations, and sometimes these stories become more real than anything else that we can remember. To me, this is reality. And this is also why our lives are what we make of them. If the stories that we tell to ourselves are self-defeating and self-punishing, then that is how we will look back on our lives. If we tell ourselves that we are in love with someone to the point that we are convinced, then we will look at that person adoringly no matter what they do to us. Sometimes our stories override what is really in front of our eyes. That is the danger of the mind, but also one of its best qualities. I have a friend right now who is going through a lot of pain because of a break up that he's suffered. I've been there. We tell ourselves that the love we feel is real or the feelings we have are this way and that. Oftentimes, they aren't what we really think they are. Most of the time, if we'd just open our eyes, we'd realize the whole thing was not as great as we made it seem. Or the person we were seeing was not as special as we had made them out to be. But sometimes, you just need to feel that way. You need to feel that you're dating someone very special, and, I think, a lot of times it's because we need to feel that we're worthy of dating someone that special. Or worthy of dating someone who cares that much. Or worthy of dating someone that powerful. Whatever the case may be, we need to convince ourselves of that, and that's exactly what we tend to do. In the end, however, the story that we've told ourselves is not real, but it's what we're left with. So we are crushed when they leave us, and the hope that we had of feeling special now is doubly self-punishing. Not only did another person leave us, or another relationship fall apart, but it was this one that was so special and the turning point in our lives or this or that -- whatever the story was that we told ourselves. But that's also the great thing about memory. We have the chance to rebuild anything that has taken place. We can "learn" (for lack of a better word) to accentuate other details to fill in gaps or replace things that we had emphasized previously. Anything that we had told ourselves can be retold and those are the things that we can hold on to. Any relationship we've had is usually able to be told in two different ways be the two people involved. Rarely do the two people tell the same story...even if they are both madly in love. The entire relationship is how you perceive it in your mind. And if my friend is reading this at all (which I doubt he is), I hope that he gets something out of this and understands that. We all use our mind to trick ourselves sometimes, but the wonderful thing is, we can use these same tricks to recover.

I'm not saying it's easy to lose someone, or that all this can happen overnight. But, in the end, there are usually things there that we just didn't want to tell ourselves. Things that we conveniently left out of the story to make it even more wonderful in our own heads. Times we still felt alone, or times that we wanted our own space, or times that we were so upset we couldn't even speak. Those are all the things that we tend to overlook when we're "in love". But they are still there. It wouldn't be a relationship if you didn't have those times once in awhile. We have them with coworkers, we have them with friends, and it would be ridiculous to say that we don't have them with lovers. But, when we're still with those people, and we need/want to feel that feeling of being in love and euphoria, we tend to not tell ourselves those stories.

I guess, in my long-winded way, I'm trying to say that our lives are just the images that our mind keeps hold of. There is really nothing else that matters. Of course, you can't sit around breaking the law and saying that you never did it. The fact that you'd be in jail would be an in-your-face reminder of the fact that you did (although, there are those who despite being there tell themselves that they didn't do it...and to those people, it becomes reality).

I always say that I don't regret the things that happen in my life because they are the things that made me who I am, and I very much like the person I am. Sure, I have things that I would like to work on and improve, but, in time, I will...or at least I'll tell myself that I have ;-) And, I think this is the positive way to look at life. You can sit around telling yourself the bad stories and making them what your life has been, or you can relive over and over the good things and decide that has been your life. I tell myself that my life will always work out. It's true, and I really believe that. It always has. It's probably because of the way I look at things. I've always learned something positive from each difficult situation that I've been in, and I've always used that as a means to a better place. My life does always work out, and I feel that will be the way things go until my dying day. There are too many stories left to tell, and too many things left to discover to allow ourselves to constantly think differently. Sure, we all get sad and we all get down-trodden once in awhile. It happens. We can't always think positively about everything or it would no longer be positive...it would be status-quo. But if you make the idea of everything always works out the status-quo, then you can have bad times, and you can have good times, and in the end, the story that you'll tell is always one with a good ending. That's how I'd rather live my life.

Well, this has been another long, long entry, but I think that's okeh. I've not included one here in awhile, and I should have much more time now to write more often. Things have happened in my life, and perhaps I'll get into them in another entry, but that's for another time entirely. I will just say quickly, for my own record, that things with Andrew are going wonderfully, and he really does make me happy. Sure, we have our things that sometimes we have to discuss and work out, but that's what is so great about it, we do discuss them and work them out. I have very high hopes for this, and I think it's going to be something really great. In any case, that's my story and I'm sticking to it ;-)

~XGJV

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July 2008

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