I’ve began to ponder serious things, although I’ve always pondered serious things. Too serious and too sensitive, these are words I often hear, and yet I still find myself wondering what is wrong with either of these things.
Perhaps, though, the seriousness, is because now I can imagine all of these things with some sense of reality. I know age plays a factor, and the time of life I’m in and my friends are in. The things we are walking through individually and together, of our parents growing older, getting sick and dying, of pregnancies and miscarriages, of marriages and divorces, of things like that. Things that are serious and real. Things that I am only at the very beginning stages of. Things I didn’t think much about as a kid, but that are now creeping in. My husband tells me he is starting to feel old, his birthday is only a few weeks away, and yet I wonder how my father feels. Today is his birthday, and he’s almost twice our age. Dad, do you feel old? I wonder if I could ever ask him these questions candidly, as a friend, and if he could ever answer me candidly, as a friend, or if he would choose an answer that only a father would give a daughter in order to protect her, one that would hide his fears in order to alleviate any of her fears. I wonder if he even thinks the way I think, or rather, if I think the way he thinks, and if we ponder these things together, separately in our own spaces. I wonder if he realizes that he will eventually be the oldest in our immediate family line once his own mother is gone. I wonder if my dad thinks about the fact that he’s entering the latter part of his life, and if he is scared and thinks about death. I wonder if it feels like standing in a line at the DMV or at the bank, both business and fatigue circling the air, waiting for that voice, next, and next again. Then again, my father is only 56, and for as serious as I am, I am optimistic, and I am determined that each one of us, myself, my father, and my husband included, will live to be one hundred. Perhaps death is not near for any of us, and this brings me a sense of relief.
But it isn’t death I think of lately. The serious things right now mostly revolve around building something greater. That’s what marriage feels like. It feels like being crazy enough and in love enough to choose to marry someone, no matter what comes our way, in order to build something greater. A home, both literal and as a feeling, a family beyond just us and our two dogs, careers, holidays, family get togethers. History. It feels like I’m building a history that for the first time in my life, I can now start to picture.
Because when I wasn’t married, I could only imagine. Maybe we’ll live here and maybe he’ll look like this and maybe we’ll do this together and maybe our kids will be like this and maybe our thing together will be that and maybe we’ll never fight and maybe this and maybe that and, other than my own personal goals, the rest has been a bunch of maybes.
And so the seriousness, the seriousness comes like this: I know who my husband is, I know where we live, I know what our careers are, I know the things we enjoy doing together and I know what makes us fight. I also know the things we do to not fight and instead the ways we choose to be humble. I know that we could move and I know that our careers could still change. But even now, I feel like I can picture our kids, which I’ve never been able to do before, because I know the parts of him and the parts of me and the how these will mix and make kids who will probably be like this or that and even though I’m sure they’ll be entirely different than I could ever imagine, I feel like I can sort of sense what they will be like. Somehow. Someday.
I continue pondering. I ponder the seriousness of life and how it’s so much more exciting when you don’t let things get under your skin. I ponder the seriousness of life and how it’s so much more fun when you try something new. I ponder the seriousness of life and how it’s so much more vibrant when you embrace the unknown. I ponder the seriousness of life and realize that no matter how I try to picture it, it’s always going to be changing and surprising me, and the best I can do is not to hold on but to let go. To let go and let things happen how they are supposed to happen in order to feel the joy and also the sorrow but then once again the joy that comes after the sorrow.
I’ve changed since I have gotten married. I honestly don’t know if every married person feels this way or if it’s just me and my seriousness. I know I am the same person I was before I was married and yet, I don’t feel at all like the person I was just months ago. Maybe it’s because marriage felt so unknown and now that I’m here, I see who I am rather than imagine who I will be. And as much as I am the person I imagined I would be, for I am still me, I feel different.
Maybe I feel different because now I know that every single decision I make personally affects another human being, and whatever human beings we are able to create. I knew that would happen, but I didn’t know it to happen. With dating, there was always the option to abandon ship, and that’s what was always chosen. Rather than continue to stay in different individuals' lives for better and eventually for worse, we could end the worse and simply move on to other things. I can’t do that anymore, and so I certainly feel different.
Maybe I feel different because marriage has taught me how selfish I can be. It’s no longer about my ambition alone, it’s about both of our ambitions, whether I like all of his or not, because again, I can’t leave and I won’t. Maybe to some that sounds awful, but it’s actually quite beautiful. It’s a love I’ve never fully known until now. To sacrifice so much of one’s self for another, that takes a whole lot of beautiful and crazy and entirely raw love. It’s a type of love that has allowed me to understand God in a new light, because before I was married, I could hardly even utter (type) the word God if I knew it was going to be in a blog post, but now I can most certainly type God and know that His love is as real as anything in this world. Recognizing my selfishness isn’t a bad thing either. It’s taught me to be a better human, not just for my husband, but for others, and also for my own self. Marriage isn’t suffocating like I thought it would be. It’s sad to say I even thought that way, but it was a fear of mine, a deeply rooted fear that took months of serious inner-dialogue for me to confront and move past. Instead, marriage has actually been quite freeing. So freeing, in fact, I wonder why more don't do it.
And as it goes, I continue to ponder. I continue to ponder what life will be like in one year and five years and ten years and thirty. But I also stop to remind myself that life only exists right now, and so to be in this moment and embrace this moment and try new things and to always let go.
Because as it goes, when we let go, we create new space for all those beautifully serious things to come in. And we shouldn’t be afraid of them, oh no, because that is what life is: a collection of tiny and big and confusing and bright moments that whether experienced with another or completely on our own, are building something greater.