Here’s To a Life Of Insecurity, Uncertainty, Failure

Yesterday was a wonderful day. Not only did I have two separate and delicious get-togethers with good friends, I felt no sadness, no tears, no angst when I was alone again.

I seem to have turned a corner — maybe not with the sadness, because sadness seems to be a constant underlying theme of my life even when I am otherwise happy, but with the angst. At the moment, I feel good. Unconflicted. Accepting. Though to be honest, I don’t know what it is I am accepting. Maybe that uncertainty is an acceptable way of life — because, truly, any certainty we feel is a matter of hope over reality. That the unusual doesn’t usually happen helps fuel the fantasy of certainty, but anything can happen to any of us at any time.

A friend sent me the following text: So here’s to a life of insecurity, uncertainty, failure, and most of all adventure. And oh, that sounds so strangely wonderful! We tend to think that security, certainty, and success are all things to be sought after, but what if they aren’t? What if security lies in uncertainty and failure? What if certainty lies in failure and insecurity? What if success lies in failure, uncertainty, and insecurity?

I don’t know what succarouselcess is since it remains elusive. I don’t know what failure is, either, though I have suffered too much of it. Still, success sometimes brings unrealistic expectations, forces us into a role we aren’t comfortable with, or steals time from loved ones, and aren’t those all failures? Failure often brings knowledge of a sort, and isn’t truth a success?

Truth has always excited me, though the keys to life’s mysteries — life’s truths — seem out of reach. Each truth learned hints at greater truths, and so we truth seekers are always seeking. (Always failing, too, because truth can never be grasped.)

Although I miss my soul mate with all my mind and heart, when I am brutally honest with myself, I know we went as far as we could together in our search for truth. For us to have remained together would have stifled that glow of barely sensed knowledge, would have kept us tethered to ordinariness. But by his death, he took me to the ends of my reach, showed me emotions I didn’t know existed, let me feel the bonds of eternity and the bounds of the earth.

I sense something more for me in this life, sense . . . whatever it is that lies beyond the cone of my vision. I haven’t a clue how to move beyond my own grasp, though I sense that a life of security, certainty and success is not the way to do it. All of those are ties that bind, and since I am free and boundless for the first time in my life, I’m not about to tie myself in knots again, at least until life and age do it for me.

Sometimes I sense laughter deep within the universe. Sometimes I sense the playfulness that holds everything together.

Once a very long time ago when I was immeasurably young, my classmates were trying to read each other’s minds. They sat there, brows furrowed in concentration. My then best friend was one of the would-be-mind readers. I was bored with the whole thing, and played my own game of trying to break their concentration by shouting out gleefully anything I could think of. The gameplayers were so annoyed at me they blocked me out, so no one realized that I unwittingly shouted out the right answers whenever my friend was the one sending the thoughts.

So playfulness, laughter, uncertainty, insecurity — these are things to be gleefully and joyfully embraced. Oddly, I don’t know how to play, to be playful. Never did. I was a serious child, and except for moments here and there, I’m a serious adult. But seriousness will never get me what I want. Truth is a shy creature that can’t be hunted, only enticed with promises of play.

I’m being foolishly poetic, perhaps, but maybe, just maybe, I’m on to something. If nothing else, maybe I’ll learn to be playful.

Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, andDaughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

Grief is a Gift

I did not choose grief. Grief was thrust on me. To be honest, I never expected to grieve. My life mate/soul mate had been sick for so long I thought I was used to the idea of continuing life alone. I thought we’d untwinned our lives and had set out on separate journeys, him to death, me to continued life. His death, however, opened a hole in the universe and the cold breath of eternity has seeped into my soul. I don’t know if the hole can ever be patched. I don’t know if I want it to be. I for sure don’t want to push thoughts of him out of my mind. Such thoughts, though they still bring sadness, help bridge the gap between his presence and his absence. (Absence is such a mild term to describe the unfathomable “goneness” of someone who is dead.)

I’ve come to view grief as a gift. Not many people agree with that, but for me, it is very much of a bequest, the last present he ever gave me. I’ve always been a truth-seeker, always wanted to see what was beyond the veil of everyday reality. (If you’ve read any of my books, you can see the pattern. Each of my novels seeks to reveal the lies that hold our culture together, from so-called conspiracy theories to biological warfare, from human experimentation to old time gangsters. Despite the disparate stories and themes, they are all united by my need for the truth.)

This hole that grief has opened, both into the universe and into the human psyche, might bring me to the truth I seek. And even if it doesn’t take me where I want/need to go, it’s still a gift. Not many people are privileged to find their cosmic twin, to be connected to another human, soul to soul, as we were, and grief is the price I have to pay. Sometimes the price seems too high and I’d like to fling the gift back where it came from, but other times, it almost makes sense, as if the universe is unfolding the way it should be.

From the beginning, even when the pain of his absence made it almost impossible to breathe, I’ve trusted my grief to guide me through the days, weeks, months. Despite the insanity of the feelings grief creates, I knew I was sane and well adjusted, and so I felt free to follow the wild and agonizing ride. I’ve learned much these past twenty months on how to survive, how to find sense in the senselessness, how to find peace within the sadness. I’ve found courage, patience, compassion, and a strength I didn’t know I had. I still don’t know where I am going — I can’t see the end of the road. For all I know, there might not be an end. The journey could be all there is.

My talk of grief gives people the wrong impression. I’m not sure that what I am feeling right now is strictly grief, at least not the way most people think of grief. But it’s not “not grief” either since I do still have upsurges of tears and sadness and loneliness. Most of the time I’m just . . . me. In fact, since I stopped watching the movies and television shows he taped for us, which caused horrendous upsurges in grief since we’d always watched the tapes together, I’ve been in sort of a limbo. Until we find another word than grief for the long-term effects of having lost someone important in our lives, I will continue to use the word “grief,” because whatever I do, whatever I feel is part of my grief journey.

And it’s all a gift.

I just hope I remember that during my next upsurge of grief.