letting go

Exit 152. Three years.

As of this week, I have now been writing this blog for three years.  What does that mean?  Nothing really.  It hasn’t grown nearly as quickly as some other blogs I’ve followed, but that is mostly because I haven’t actively promoted it all that much, and because it doesn’t have a specific topic tied to it that people can search for.  And it’s not necessarily supposed to.

I have made some new friends through this blog, people who, after randomly finding posts of mine, follow me and I follow them.  I don’t have hundreds of adoring fans, like celebrities or like some of the blogs I follow.  And some of the people who used to follow me don’t anymore.  But that’s okay, because that’s how real life is too.

I’ve said before that part of the reason I feel so lost in the world is because I’ve been looking for ways to live like I’m in my early 20s again, with friends who live nearby and a church group that also doubles as a social circle.  That’s not going to happen.  That’s not how life is, and I can’t change that.  But what I can do is make the most of what I have.  My social circle isn’t going to be huge.  But it doesn’t have to be, and it shouldn’t be. And it will change.  People grow apart.  People’s actions reveal who they really are, and it is better to let go than to stay angry and hurt.

I can’t change other people, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do anything.  I can stay close to the people who have stayed close to me.  I can try new things, since some of what I’m doing now isn’t working.  Or maybe it’s time for another party at my house, to try to keep my circle intact.  Or maybe some combination of those things.

Exit 124. Maybe it’s time to find someone else.

Santiago Casilla has been having a rough couple of months.

Casilla is the closer for the San Francisco Giants baseball team.  For my unbaseballed readers, “closer” is the informal term for a pitcher whose role is to enter the game late and usually only pitch one inning.  The strategy is to use the closer in a close game in which the team is leading, so that the closer can pitch a few quick outs and end the game in a win for his team.

But Casilla not been very good at his job lately.  Recently, when he has entered the game with a small lead, he ends up pitching poorly and letting the other team score, often resulting in a loss for the Giants.  Fans are frustrated, sometimes now to the point of booing when Giants manager Bruce Bochy calls for Casilla to enter the game.  (And I don’t think they were saying Boo-ochy.)  Two months ago, the Giants were the best team in all of Major League Baseball, but since then they have slid precipitously in the standings, now barely clinging to life in the playoff race.

The moderator of a Giants Facebook posted last night that the only thing that makes sense at this point is that Casilla must have compromising pictures of Bochy.  In other words, Casilla must be keeping the closer job by blackmailing Bochy, because Bochy should know better than to use Casilla in these situations when he has caused the team to lose so many games.

Last night, I was playing board games with friends, but keeping an eye on the Giants score on my phone.  The Giants were leading 2-1 over the St. Louis Cardinals going into the 9th inning, but then Casilla came in to pitch, walked a runner, gave up a couple of hits, and left the game with the Giants behind 3-2.  The Giants could not score in the bottom of the 9th.  My friends who also follow the Giants were expressing similar thoughts about why Bochy continues to use Casilla in these situations, and how Bochy keeps deflecting the question when asked this by reporters.  Everyone has a bad day sometimes.  Everyone makes mistakes sometimes.  I get that.  If a closer blows a save or two, it shouldn’t cost him his job.  But when your team’s closer is leading Major League Baseball with nine blown saves this season, most of them coming relatively recently, then maybe it’s time to find someone else to do the job.

Finally, I said, “Bochy needs to let go and move on, and use someone else as the closer.  He’s acting like a guy who can’t get over his ex-girlfriend and keeps hoping they’ll get back together.”

I’ve been that guy before.  This is a hard life lesson for many of us, whether or not it has any connection with baseball.  Sometimes what used to work isn’t working anymore, and sometimes life has changed to the point where it may never work like that again.  Change is hard, but sometimes not changing is even harder in the long run.  Just like the Giants, I can’t stay stuck in my same old patterns and expect to stop being sad all of a sudden.  If I’m doing something that I don’t enjoy, taking time away from other things in life, then it’s time to do something else.  If I’m spending time and energy on people who aren’t making me a priority, then it’s time to stop making them such a priority.  Time to let go and move on.

Exit 113. All I can say is that my life is pretty plain.

Those of you my age may recognize the title of this post, from the lyrics of the song “No Rain” by Blind Melon.  If that title doesn’t ring a bell, then perhaps I should refer to it as That Bee Song.

I don’t have this song in my collection currently.  But I’m going to add it soon.  But why the big deal? you are probably asking, especially if you know me in person.  You rediscover one-hit wonders from your teens and add them to your playlists all the time.  Why is this one a big enough deal to blog about?

Two reasons.  First of all, because my brain is mush from all the socializing I did over this recent holiday weekend, and I can’t think of anything else to write about.  But more importantly, because this marks a major turning point in my feelings toward this song.  I’m not rediscovering this song; I’ve never forgotten it, despite the fact that, for the greater part of the last two decades, I have refused to listen to it and immediately changed the station almost every time I hear it on the radio.

If not for one specific incident, this song wouldn’t be a big deal, and I very well may have forgotten it in the almost-quarter-century since it was released.  One time, back when I was young and confused, a guy I knew went to a Blind Melon concert with a girl I really liked and didn’t have the guts to ask out.  And this guy was a jerk.  She could definitely do better.

That’s it.  After that happened, I refused to listen to this song.  Nothing ever happened between that guy and that girl, as far as I know, but for many years after that I refused to listen to this song, because I was angry that he got to go out with her and I didn’t.  It sounds petty and ridiculous, but… no, there is no but here.  It is petty and ridiculous.

Approximately eleven years after this incident happened, I was making cookies with the radio on in the other room, and I heard No Rain come on.  I instinctively started to walk away from the cookies, toward the room with the radio, so I could change the station.  But then I realized something.  I realized I was being absolutely crazy.  There was absolutely no legitimate reason I should leave what I was doing and go change the station, getting the flour that was all over my hands all over everything else in the process, just because someone I liked went out with someone I didn’t like, once, over a decade earlier.  Not listening to No Rain had become so ingrained in my brain that this was the first time I really thought about why I didn’t like this song, and how it really didn’t matter at this point.

For a while, I still didn’t particularly like the song.  R. Shannon Hoon, the lead singer (who, sadly, died of a drug overdose a few years after recording this song, only a few weeks after surviving age 27), has a weird voice, and on those occasions when I would hear No Rain come on the radio (which usually happened in the car, when my hands weren’t full of flour) I would still change the channel.  But I’ve heard it twice in the last couple weeks, all the way through, and I got to thinking about how I still associate this song with something that happened more than half a lifetime ago that still has nothing to do with me and is insignificant in the long run.

And, even though I’m still not a big fan of Mr. Hoon’s voice, it really isn’t a bad song.  It’s exactly the kind of nostalgic one-hit wonder that I’ve been listening to a lot in the last few years, with the kind of beautifully sad lyrics that I can really relate to.  So, now, every time I hear this song, it will be a reminder that the world didn’t end for me on that day decades ago when I found out that my crush had a date with a douchebag.  I’ll probably ever completely forget about this, since that’s not how my brain works, but I don’t need to let the past weigh me down anymore.

Exit 71. Not everything is meant to last forever.

I don’t often remember dreams.  When I do, they’re really bizarre and nonsensical, and they don’t usually mean anything.  However, I have one very clear memory of having a dream and waking up with a clear sense of what the dream meant.

It was December 2011.  In my dream, I came home to my parents’ house.  From the time I moved away for school until 2006, whenever I would visit my parents, Mom would go find the remaining cats from my childhood that we still had, and she would bring them to me and say to them in a falsetto baby voice, “Look!  Your big brother is home!”  This practice stopped in 2006 because that was the year that Pee-Wee, the last cat from my childhood, passed away.  Mom said once, and I’d have to say she’s probably right, that Pee-Wee was always my favorite of the many cats I grew up with.  I said once that she was the closest I ever had to a little sister.

Back to the dream.  (I wrote about this in a friends-only Facebook note back when it happened, and I’ve told this story many times, so this may sound familiar to my long-time friends.) I got home, and Mom went in the back yard to find Pee-Wee.  She brought her out and said, “Look!  Your big brother is home!”  In real life, Pee-Wee had died five and a half years earlier, but in dreamland, she was still alive.  I remember thinking she was really looking old, and I thought to myself, how old is she now?  18?  19?  No, wow, she’s 23!  That’s old for a cat!  (Leave it to me to do math correctly in my dream; she actually would have been 23 had she been alive on the day I had this dream.) I noticed (here’s where it gets dream-level weird) that her skin was falling off, and I could see bones and internal organs in one spot. Then Pee-Wee ambled out into the street.  A car approached, and she moved so slowly in her old age that she barely got out of the way in time. She went to sniff something in a bush, and more of her skin came off, and I could see her brain. Then I woke up.

As I’ve mentioned before, I had a was in a long distance relationship at the time that just wasn’t working, with a woman who I’ve called Acrux.  In a few weeks, the week between Christmas and New Year’s, she would be visiting her old housemates up here.  I sat there thinking about the dream, about how letting go of the past can be really sad, but often quite necessary. Not everything is meant to last forever, and sometimes holding on for too long can just cause more pain.  I’ve never been a fan of euthanasia in pets or humans (and I’m not interested in getting into a political discussion right now), but in the situation I dreamed about, Pee-Wee was in a lot of pain holding on to this life.  And that’s when it hit me, that this dream wasn’t really about Pee-Wee.  It was about Acrux all along.  She wasn’t going to change; the events of the previous few months had shown me her true colors. Holding on to this relationship, trying to salvage a combination of what we had in the beginning and what I always thought a relationship should be like, when she was clearly unwilling to do so, was just causing more hurt and nothing else. If I stayed with her, things wouldn’t be the same as my idealized memories of what things were like in the beginning. I knew at that moment that I had to bring this up when she came for a visit a few weeks later, and I knew at that moment that our relationship would not survive to the end of her visit.  We broke up on New Year’s Eve.

Now some things should not be discarded so lightly.  I believe that marriage, for example, is a lifetime commitment.  (If you are divorced and reading this, don’t take that as judgment on you.  I’m just stating my beliefs here, and everyone has their reasons.)  Also, another example, one’s core spiritual beliefs should not change if they should suddenly become inconvenient.  But some things just aren’t meant to last forever.  When I first started writing this blog, for example, I was looking for a new job, although I didn’t go public with that until it was a done deal.  Things at my previous job had changed to the point that everything I had enjoyed about working at a tiny Christian school just weren’t there anymore, and it wasn’t worth the low pay anymore.  Letting go of my job of seven years was a positive change for me, although it certainly wasn’t easy.

I have a few other things right now, one major one in particular, where I’ve been wondering if the time has come to let go of something that has been a major part of my life for a long time, but which has changed to the point of causing hurt.  Saying goodbye is hard.  This whole concept is hard for me.  I want things to last forever.  And I want to be a voice against any further changes, but this is unlikely to happen at this point, so maybe it’s time to find something better somewhere else.

Exit 28. Maybe we’re not supposed to forget the painful times.

Last week, I was sending someone a happy birthday message on Facebook.  I also asked how she was doing, since I can’t remember the last time I saw her.  For that matter, I’ve only met her in person a few times; she is friends with some of my dancing friends.  She messaged back the next day, and I was in the middle of writing her back, about 22 hours after this exchange started, when a thought of Procyon popped into my head.  As I was dismissing that thought, I realized that I was pretty proud of myself for having taken 22 hours for that thought to even cross my mind.  This must mean I’m finally moving on and getting over stuff.

Let me back up and explain here.  Procyon is my astrocode name for someone I dated very briefly in early 2007.  She was a brat.  She was into putting down things I liked, and one time when we were arguing about this, she told me that I was immature because I didn’t know how to fight in a relationship.  Excuse me… it’s like she’s saying that it’s my fault that the last girl I dated before her (Vega) was a nice person and never did anything to cause a fight.  She acted like she thought it was cute the time she humiliated and falsely slandered me in public, which occurred approximately three hours after the not knowing how to fight argument, and approximately twelve hours (most of which were spent trying to sleep) before the official breakup.  I really don’t think there was anything I saw in her other than that she was a female human who seemed interested in hanging out with me.  About six months later, she briefly started coming back to the Bible study where we met, where she kept going on and on and on about how wonderful her new boyfriend was, right in front of me.  Less than a year after that, she was marrying this guy, right around the same time I went on my first real date after she and I broke up.  I never knew what happened to her after that, and to be completely honest, I’ve never really wanted to know.

Anyway, my friend with the birthday last week has never met Procyon.  My friend looks nothing like her, and my friend isn’t mean like her.  But this friend has often brought up a brief passing memory of Procyon in my mind, simply because the two of them have very similar names.

It takes me a long time to get over things, particularly when the things involved are being hurt romantically, since dates and romantic relationships are so few and far between for me to begin with.  It takes me a long time to forget hurtful things, just because of the way my brain works.  But maybe I’m missing the point here.  Maybe we’re not supposed to forget the painful times.  If we forget the hurt, then the good times won’t feel as good, because we won’t remember what it’s like to go through times that aren’t good.  If we forget the hurt, we won’t remember the lessons we learn in hardships and trials.  And, while this isn’t really true of Procyon, there are some people who have caused me hurt who were also responsible for some very good times before things fell apart.

Things have happened that didn’t work out.  I can’t change that.  They weren’t meant to last.  But these episodes are part of my past, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.  No one can live a full life while haunted by decisions made in the past, or by the fear of things that might go wrong in the future.  I don’t have to tense up and get mad every time I see a Facebook comment by someone who hurt me, or by someone who has a similar name to someone who hurt me.  It’s not easy to move on from things like that.  It takes a lot of time, and conscious effort.  But I just have to keep practicing, because of that old saying about drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.

Of course, now that I’ve written this, I’m going to think of Procyon right away every time my similarly-named friend shares anything on Facebook.  But that’s okay, because I’m choosing not to carry around that hurt anymore.