A man sits beneath a clear blue sky. Alone with his thoughts stares out at the still water of a swimming pool and wonders how it is he has reached this place. This moment in time in which he is supposed to revel in the joy of accomplishment and victories both past and present. He is struck the absurdity of his position and his feelings.
Some would say that he is at the top of his game. He has many things that others do not. A wife, children, dog, mortgage and a career that is filled with promise and opportunity. These are things that not everyone experiences. The thought makes him smile wistfully. Some would raise hell for referring to family as things. They would say that his problem is referring to people as things and not as people. It made him smile bigger, the suggestion that he was dehumanizing his family. Those who would suggest that clearly did not understand or know him.
Not that any of that mattered, it was more conjecture than anything else. The one thing that he was really guilty of was a propensity for day dreaming. It was a trait that was both endearing and infuriating. The visions he saw sometimes served to motivate and drive him but they could also leave him feeling quite morose about the future.
With a loud yawn he stretched his arms over his head and swung his legs over the side of the lounge chair. It was time to replenish his supply of liquid refreshment. Moments later he stood before the refrigerator and considered his options. An ample supply of soft drinks, beer and bottled water greeted him. In a moment of indecision he grabbed a few of each and headed back outside. Along the way he saw his iPod lying on an end table and snagged that as well.
Upon his return poolside he found his dog patiently waiting for him. He smiled in greeting and plopped back down upon his seat. “I’d offer you a beer but I am not sure that it is your thing,” he said. Instead he leaned over and rubbed his head affectionately. In return he received a solid five minutes of tail wagging and nuzzling, proof that man’s best friend wasn’t offended by the lack of beer.
Several moments of silence later he reached into his pocket and pulled out his iPod and pressed play. He was rewarded with As it Goes by Billy Joel. For the second time in a short while a wistful smile passed across his face. It was the kind of song that made him wonder about whether things happened for a reason and whether people were given signs.
“In every heart there is a room
A sanctuary safe and strong
To heal the wounds from lovers past
Until a new one comes along”
Earlier that week he had heard from a past love. There had been a time not so long before when he was completely transfixed by her and could think of nothing but the life that they would lead together. Obviously it hadn’t happened or he wouldn’t refer to her in the past tense. He hated to admit it, but her loss left a bitter taste in his mouth. She really was one who had gotten away, but he wasn’t so sure that he had.
“I spoke to you in cautious tones
You answered me with no pretense
And still I feel I said too much
My silence is my self defense”
She had figured it out long before he did, knew her heart and what it wanted. He took longer to get to that point, reticent for a host of reasons not the least of which was fear of being hurt as he had many times before.
“And every time I’ve held a rose
It seems I only felt the thorns
And so it goes, and so it goes
And so will you soon I suppose”
Fear and reticence were eventually overcome and he let himself wander into her garden. It was a rebirth of sorts. A time when he rediscovered his ability to love unconditionally and took a new joy in life. Still, past experience made him wary so he continued to be a cautious man. Sometimes during quiet moments he worried that she would leave and he feared what would come of him. It was to become a self fulfilling prophecy.
Because though she loved him there reached a point in time at which she felt like their window of opportunity had passed and she reluctantly moved on. Her departure was indeed painful, but it would take many years before he understood just how hurt he was.
For he did move on with his life. He did the things that people were supposed to do. He lived the life that he thought he was supposed to be living or so he thought. Her unexpected reappearance made him question everything or maybe he had already been questioning things. Maybe all she did was serve as the spark that reignited the fire.
“But if my silence made you leave
Then that would be my worst mistake
So I will share this room with you
And you can have this heart to break”
These were words that he didn’t say, things that he didn’t dare share with her. Though he very much wanted to let her know that his heart had never healed and that his spirit suffered, he never said so. Never hinted at his true feelings or let on that he wished that he could turn back time. He didn’t speak of these things because he couldn’t.
Couldn’t stand the idea that he hadn’t really lived the life that he wanted. Couldn’t stand to think that someone who knew him as no other did could walk into a room and cause his heart to stop. Couldn’t stand to think of the consequences of letting her know these things.
For if he did speak of them, for if he uttered those words out loud there would be no going back. It would be an admission of failure on an epic level and an acknowledgment that those years past weren’t truly over. It would be reopening the sort of wounds that do not always heal.
It was possible that she would listen to his words. It was possible that she would offer and understanding smile and reject him. That she would tell him that she was flattered but unable to do more than say thank you. That was far more likely than the Hollywood ending in which she declared that she never stopped loving him and rushed into his arms.
Sometimes prudence and safety were indeed the smart move to make.
Still, it ate away at him. He didn’t want to live a life of fear and denial. He didn’t want to go through the days of his life wondering what would have happened. He didn’t want to live a lie. It dawned upon him that was part of the problem.
He was no longer convinced that his current life was the one that he was supposed to be living. Maybe his discontent was evidence of something that had been building in his subconscious. Maybe he wasn’t supposed to be with either of these women, past or present. Maybe this was just about pushing him to take the first step in a new journey.
Too many maybes and not enough definites, that was the real problem. But as he told his children many times that was life. There were very few certainties other than change would be a consistent part of it all. Nodding his head at his own wisdom he opened a beer and took a long swig.
A decision had been made. He wouldn’t say anything to anyone. There wasn’t any rush to make any changes and that was good. It was clear to him that he needed to think some more about it all as both a man and a father.
Perhaps this was nothing more than one of those little blips that people experience and perhaps it wasn’t. Time would tell. He would figure it out because that is what he did.
Still, he was haunted by the final section of the song and it’s somewhat prophetic nature:
“And this is why my eyes are closed
It’s just as well for all I’ve seen
And so it goes, and so it goes
And you’re the only one who knows
So I would choose to be with you
As if the choice were mine to make
But you can make decisions too
And you can have this heart to break
And so it goes, and so it goes
And you’re the only one who knows”
It hit so very close to home, this song. So close that he found himself wondering again about it all. Another swig of beer was followed by a giant shrug. Life was an adventure that was worth living. Who could say what would happen. If nothing else it would make for a good story.