Once again, it’s been a lifetime and a half since the last time that I wrote a post (seriously, almost a freaking year again?!?!). But as we all know, the fact that I’m coming here means there’s a new story or two.
So let’s do this.
Anyone who has fully read a post in this blog (I know they’re long) will realize that it’s mostly about heartbreak. It started out as a way to release emotions about a job, a woman, and a change of life direction. It expressed the sadness that came from my father’s decisions, and although these last ones weren’t technically heartbreak, the last two stories talked about the failure of an idea, and how that was compensated by the birth of a love story. But I know (and deep down I knew) that all stories have an end, so it’s no surprise that even this latest love story is now over.
Lately I’ve started coming to terms with the impact that all of these stories have had on my world-and-life perspective. I’ve always loved writing, and I once read an article that said great writing comes from the deepest parts of ourselves and we often only reach these places during pivotal and perhaps traumatic moments of our lives (“to be on the cutting edge, you have to bleed” is how it was summarized). That’s supposedly why so many great writers lived depressed and why scientist think that creativity stems from depression. You take a broken heart, shatter it even more, squeeze the life juice out of it and pour it out so that you can at least do something useful with it (I mean, it’s already broken, right? Might as well use it for something if you can!). And once you get good at it, you bounce back and repeat the process.
Well, if you’ve ever honestly enjoyed reading any of the stories in this blog, then I should tell you that they were my self-therapy sessions to prevent (or rather to “preemptively-overcome”) incoming depressions, and I learned this trick [indirectly] from a book. Among the three most influential books that got me out of my first deep depression at 15, you will find “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl which talks about creating rather than finding the meaning of life. In the book, he says the phrase “what is to give light must endure burning“ and for over a decade I have not only believed in this, I have abused it. I often say to myself “if you want a brilliant story, you need fuel; so you gotta throw everything into the fire, including yourself” Blame it on my Catholic childhood but I sometimes think in terms of self-sacrifice, and that’s why this blog lets you read about some highly irrational things that I rationally/consciously pursue at my own risk. The worst that happens is that we all get to read a story afterwards.
As I recently told my cousin, years ago I started living by the phrase “when facing a choice, choose the one that will make the better story”, and I think I have abused this to a monumental and perhaps problematic degree. So when I mention the impact that these stories had on me, what I mean is that I’ve often found a general lack of motivation to do mundane and perhaps necessary things because I’ve been so committed to hunting down exceptional and unnecessary-yet-captivating stories. Did I have to pursue an unlikely-to-succeed idea or chase a high-risk relationship from Tinder to another continent? Pff, no. But was it worth it and would I do it all over again? Absolutely. I knew they would be good stories if they worked out, but if they didn’t work out they would perhaps be great stories (and their conclusion would open the door to more stories).
You see, either way it’s a win-win. People like a “success story” like Malala in real life or Harry Potter in fiction, but they love tragedy, especially when it’s not their own. There’s a very human reason why we briefly mention good things but gossip endlessly about bad things. We empathize with tragic characters like Snape, downfall stories like Anakin’s, and the promise of an upcoming “bittersweet ending” to Game of Thrones is so captivating because we know something (or rather, someone) is going to hit a massive wall (admit it, a happy ending would have left disappointed fans). If you’re empathetic you feel the connection and the weight of someone’s disappointment and tragedy, so you bond with them. And if you’re egocentric or self-absorbed then you love proof that you’re better than someone else (“that’s what you deserve”), so in the end everyone observing a tragedy ends up satisfied in some way. That’s why I’m not ashamed of saying that the over-arching theme of this blog and the intertwining sub-stories that I’ve been chasing ultimately come down to tragedy and disappointment. Troubled as it may sound, chasing and confronting a possible tragedy allow me do both things that people appreciate in tragedy: I bond with myself over the disappointing outcome (like the empath) and I get to watch myself say “you’re better than that guy” (like the self-absorbed). Both of those are deeply meaningful experiences, and they remind me that when you try something, you either succeed or you learn.
As I wrote on the last post, my girlfriend said I “wasn’t acting like the man she fell in love with” because I was less passionate about life and less driven to do things. Well, now I can officially tell you [and her, if she ever reads this], that the person many of my friends and all of my romances fall in love with is rather temporary. I’m an alone-but-never-lonely, extremely emotional and high-risk-taking tragedy-chaser, but while a story to develops to its conclusion I become an overly-rational objective observer who is simply taking things in and gathering facts for the story (hence why many of my romantic partners tell me I have an amazing memory). In other words, when things are good and I’m in the middle of a story, then I can’t pursue other stories because I’m focused and committed to one, but as soon as a story ends I can’t focus on anything other than writing it all down. So unless you choose to love both the character and the writer, you’re probably only going to be in love with one of them.
By now I’m sure you can see why the title of this post is claiming (or rather, hoping) that I won’t be writing more stories of this kind. There’s a massive problem here and I know it. At the conclusion of this latest heartbreak I decided to complement my self-therapy writing sessions with actual therapy sessions [which I’ve wanted to do for years]. My therapist and I had plenty of fun watching me navigate through my thoughts like Homer on an epic Odyssey. After just three sessions she knew for a fact that I would also tie myself to a mast like Odysseus did in order to outsmart a problem, but in case you missed the deeper analogy here, I’m precisely reiterating that I like to be the character (Odysseus) who ties himself to a post and the writer (Homer) who tells the story afterwards. That’s why I say we had a lot of fun watching me navigate through my stories.
And yet the most interesting comment that my therapist made came within the first 5 minutes of our very first session. She saw the way I sat and she said “you know, I can already see that you’re someone who has very intense energy and is extremely emotional but somehow you keep it all together. You remind me of those epic waterfalls in Canada, but you’re trying to fit them all into this little cup of coffee.”
“Well… I’m managing to pull it off quite well, don’t you think?”
Perhaps she makes this sort of comment to many-if-not-all patients that walk into her door, but eventually we agreed that it was a proper interpretation for my case given the stories that I told her afterwards (some which haven’t made an appearance into this blog because they’re too intense or personal). So the whole reason for this blog post is because during our final session we agreed that it was time for me to approach life in a different way than I have been for the last 15 years. “You’re right around the age where that takes place, you know?“
It’s been a pretty epic journey since I graduated from both my Bachelor’s and my Master’s. And each journey was followed by a pretty grand adventure chasing a job or idea, getting deeply involved with one woman or another, and ending up in a different continent (in both stories, actually). Why do you guys get these sporadic posts every 1.5 years? Because that’s when the extremely emotional tragedy-chaser and the overly-rational objective observer come together and say “ok, let’s spill the coffee cup and watch the waterfall do its thing.”
But I think it’s time to change the story a little bit. I want to slowly-but-surely see where these waterfalls flow when I start removing the coffee cup. I want to turn the page and end the chapter on “My Journey Since Graduation” so that I can change the tone and narrative for a new book. This is the final post of its kind, but it’s being split into 3 (because it’s always three) so that I can delve more deeply into the important stories about 1) the diplomatic service and 2) the lessons from heartbreak. After these, there are gonna be some changes in terms of what my goals are and how I’m getting there. I will no longer be taking big risks in search of a good story. I will no longer be a waterfall-in-a-coffee-cup that spills the coffee beans roughly once a year. And I will no longer fly off to a different continent chasing an intense love affair and a good story.
… but then again, I am about to move to a new country and you never know what happens with romance, so let’s just put a question mark at the end of the title, shall we? 😉