The older I get, the more I am confronted with the reality of The Great Myth of the 1…2…3 (or A…B…C, if you like).
It is a myth that seems to have been woven deep into my psyche from childhood- introduced to me through story books, romance novels, television programmes, wistful teenage conversations, many an hour of daydreaming and the general preparation for life and a career that I received through schooling and my church.
The great myth of the 1…2…3 goes something like this:
Life is a predictable beast that faithfully carries us along the path of Hearts Desires in such a pleasant and rewarding manner that, as adults, we will never feel the sinking depression of failure, the slashing ache of a broken heart, the panic and shame of an empty bank account, the despair of aloneness, nor the confusion of a life that does not unfold as we were jolly well certain it would (as teenagers we knew all these would just came standard, but the Great Myth had us believe that we would be done with them all once we reached an adult age…)
In the dream that is the Myth of the 1…2…3, we go to school, obtain an education, pursue a career, make plenty money, meet the right life partner, happily settle down, buy our house, have our children, have our pets, have our friends, have our hobbies, have great purpose and then, well, look back on life as a wizened and graying human being, embraced by a pleasant glow and a deep contentment at a life well understood and well spent.
I am finding that this Great Myth of the 1…2…3 is rudely awakened by that thing called Real Life, however.
Real Life is what we try to avoid by buying into The Great Myth, it would seem.
Real Life is that not-so-gentle beast that we straddle with much alarm at times and that which we try to get a grip on with all we have mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically lest we be flung off badly.
Fortunately, in this arena of Real Life, there are people (quite necessary ones) that are able to teach us how to jump back onto this beastie as we find ourselves, yet again, hanging upside down, attached by just our ankles!
In this current position in which I find myself- attached but not quite on- I do get to contemplating: Real Life is rudely breaking into The Great Myth of the Happily Married at 27 in a sobering way. What if Real Life would have me ‘without’ in that regard for plenty more years?! It is not a pleasant thought, but I have come off this beastie enough times already to know that humanity is tougher than unpleasant thoughts and realities.
(My one complaint, however, is that nothing in my upbringing would have prepared me for this reality: little girls are still raised to believe that they will be making homes at a certain age, not contemplating a single income and single bed for the rest of their lives! It’s a total mind shift to have to think smarter and plan smarter for the future as a single female. No matter how well we might be educated in order to enter the working world and create a life for ourselves, we never believe it will be a life just for ourselves. The concept leaves us dazed and blinking: and leads others to stare at us in alarm and label us desperate. We are not desperate- we are just getting to grips with a Reality for which we have not been prepared…it takes some time and it’s hard to swallow.)
The reality, however, is that there are plenty of women, historically and in present day life, who have gone it (and are going it) ‘alone’- I can learn from them.
The reality is that I need to adapt and change and find a way for this ‘new’ reality that would leave me thriving and not just hanging on.
The reality is that we ALL (fathers, mothers, educators, pastors) need to speak truthfully to younger women about the possibility of this being their reality one day, and we need to help each other find viable ways, IN IT, to live our lives…