Sunday, July 1, 2007

Life 2.0 in full production

It’s been a long road. Inventing a life is never easy, harder still when the old one must be systematically destroyed to obtain the raw materials for the new one. As I traverse my life, I realize I am building the bridge upon which I walk across the chasm and dismantling the bridge behind me to recycle my past into my future. It’s a tricky construction project because the foundation must be maintained or the whole experiment falls into the abyss.

After many years of marriage, I realized I was dying. Not the immanent death you could see if your car was sliding towards a cliff and you at least knew it was time for taking preventative action. No, it was more like the glacial pace of growing up in Love Canal where years, even decades passed as the toxins invaded slowly, steadily. For me it was marital monoxide, a one way corrosion eating away at my spirit, my vitality, my life.

I don’t always take care of myself as I should, raised in the Christian tradition of God first, others second, self last. I took the self last part and crafted a life of adaptation, subjugating my own desires to those perceived of others I chose to be close to. Now I don’t think being self-less is a bad thing but without getting my own oxygen mask on, I was starving myself and letting my own life slip away as I struggled to attach others’ oxygen.

But then I woke up.

I believe that happiness can be cut out of whole cloth. I know that satisfaction can be derived and self-worth maintained in the most hostile crucible shat out from the twisted depths of humanity’s darkest bowels. Viktor Frankl ripped the covers off the part of my psyche behind which this knowledge lived but mine was a more insidious demon; my liberty wasn’t taken from me, I systematically handed it over to someone else in the name of love. No, it wasn’t as horrific as the holocaust by any means but I volunteered for it; I thought I was acting in my best interest by acting in her best interest.

I missed the most important of life’s lessons: I failed to replenish my own reserves as I nurtured the reserves of my other.

Modeling is the process of creating a vision of something. Implementing the model doesn’t always work out as intended since the world is more complex than we have sensory capability to perceive but it always has an effect. When lives are joined, a model is agreed upon and the more the elements of the model are exercised, the more solid and self-perpetuating the model becomes. It’s nearly impossible to redraw the model once the vision becomes reality (which of course is why getting the model right is so important).

When I realized I was dying, that the model could only sustain one life, I was faced with a fork in my road. I could sustain the other until I expired or I could redraw the model so that I could sustain my own life. The options were as different as oil and water and could not be blended. In choosing to sustain my own life, my other believed that sustaining my life could only come at the expense of hers. True or not, that was the unintended truth of the model we had used for nearly twenty years. I roughed in my self-sustaining model some time in the last millennium but only recently completed Life 2.0 based on that model. It’s not perfect but it is sustainable and having survived what seems like a near-death experience makes life even sweeter than I had been able to envision. While the intent was to save my life, the richness now woven into my days is beyond what I could read in the model as I was developing it. Life 2.0 has been going for a while, perhaps it’s now 2.3 or 2.6 but that doesn’t matter anymore. What does matter is that Life version 2 is in full production and Life version 1 is no longer supported.

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