Life was a lot easier when I believed in the benevolence and guidance of an overarching Other. It allowed me to be comfortable with being less than I could be. It allowed me to be comfortable with failure. Falling short was OK as long as I felt the choices I made were part of the Other’s plan. Because really, who can argue with feelings?
Life was also a lot more self-conscious when I believed in the Other who watched over me, seeing my actions, hearing my thoughts, knowing my heart. By keeping myself in line, I kept in his plan, kept in his good graces. Nothing about me escaped his scrutiny, so no matter if fellow man paid attention to me or ignored me, I always had someone attentive to my interests and concerned about my desires.
But it was that diadic interest in my affairs that trained me to pay more attention to the righteousness of my own intent than to embrace and learn from the action itself. Why commit to the encounter when there’s a chance it could lead me down the path of unrighteousness? Why not just sit on the side and pray for guidance? Why not embrace, instead, the paranoia of appearances? I mean, I could fail and go down in flames figuratively or succeed and go down in flames spiritually. And so I carried on.
Life was easier when I could use my desire for righteousness as a explanation to prop up my insular behavior and my retreat from the mature ways of the adult world. I abstained in life because of the rewards I sought in the afterlife. But seventeen years since leaving the faith, I don’t have that crutch anymore, so the abstinance looks more silly than ever. I was in a social situation recently where adult confessions where circulating around the table; after some time, one of my acquaintences addressed me and mentioned that I hadn’t offered anything. I demured and played it down, not because I hadn’t done anything worthy of confession, but because I didn’t want to admit to anything. I didn’t want to own up to my desires. I abstained from the informal social game, and instantly I was a wild feather sticking out against the grain.
The adult world is a social dance; no room for those who stumble over their feet. One missed step and you’re either playing catch-up or heading back to the chairs. After so much of my life, I can’t stand the sidelines anymore. So it’s a steady walk back to the dance floor. Everybody’s there, moving, shaking, flexing, with reckless abandon. Where am I? I have a body, and I’m allowed to move it. I have a tongue, and I’m allowed to wag it. I have a finger, and I’m allowed to point it. I have an ass, and I’m allowed to shake it.
Just like everybody else, I have desires, goals, and dreams. Time to own up.