Universe University

"I do not intend to tiptoe through life, only to arrive safely at death." 

They say ("they" meaning the new teachers, the modern-day buddhas who write self-help books for the masses and whose words mean something for a year or two before being dropped for the next buddha)--they say we are each here to learn something, that we can ask the Universe for the knowledge we want and it will respond to our requests.  That we can even ask for the things we want--money, possessions, power, career success, love, family, physical and emotional health. We must believe we are going to receive these things, and then we will receive them, in spades.

But I think I screwed up somewhere. I've always believed--always known, somehow--that I was here on this earth to learn about love. Not how to get money, power, family etc. but how to love better, how to be a better person, how to lay aside the ego and give of myself.  Not just in romantic relationships but every relationship. So I asked the universe, years ago, for that: please, teach me about love. I thought I was humble then but I was just barely beginning to know what humility (humiliation?) was.

I might as well have said Please, Universe, teach me about excruciating, searing pain; teach me what it feels like to know loss, to know death, failure; to feel abandoned, shat upon and chopped into little bits. It's like asking for patience.  You don't magically become patient overnight. You learn patience through being pushed around, whined at, poked, bossed, sniveled to, vomited upon by your children and then asked to put on your best dress and serve dinner to your husband's direct supervisor. Whose salary you earn for pocket change. (I'm really glad I didn't ask for patience.)

Bottom line is, I think I'm changing my mind. These love lessons are bringing me down like a lion brings down a gazelle--they are tearing into my heart and brain and haunches and spinal cord in ways I never anticipated. And is the meagre payoff (more knowledge about love, ha!) really worth it, for a person who is certifiable several months out of the year anyway? So my proposal is this, Universe: that I switch life-lessons in midstream. Because if all those self-help books are right, I get to have anything I ask for. So my new request is this: I'd like to learn about humor. Yes--about laughter, and finding the funny in everything. Like some kind of laughing saint, I want to learn about how great it is to yuck it up at absolutely anything, including and especially oneself. Show me the saintliness in sarcasm, the holiness in howling with tears of comedy at my own mishaps. That's right--I want to learn about laughing my arse off when my life goes drastically, insanely off the tracks. Why not? Here I am, a person who has always detested routine, bound to a daily ritual of pill-taking, early bedtimes, early wake-times, forbidden alcohol or caffeine (if I want to be healthy--and I don't, not always) or sugar (sugar--!). In essence, asked not to fully live, but admonished against committing suicide. Is my life going to go off the tracks on occasion under this sort of regime, out of sheer rebellion? Yes--resoundingly, yes. If that's not funny, what is?

My reasons for the switch in life lessons, natch, are completely selfish. Because disappointments and failures in love (for anyone, but let me wax narcissistic here, again--surprised?) for a bipolar person are particularly excruciating.  We take everything to extremes. Everything is very, very important; very, very passionately and deeply felt and meaningful and powerful and when we make a decision (such as to be, or not be, with someone) it is fiercely defended up until the very moment where we (just as passionately) change our minds about it. If we do. And I'm not saying we will; but we might. And unfortunately, we believe nobody has the right to get mad/hurt/upset at us for changing our minds about things. Well--that's where the love lessons get particularly searing; terrifying; even nightmarish, for all concerned. Bipolar people will turn inward and spiral into depression and suicidal ideation; they will spike up into mania and hurl themselves onto train tracks--or cut off their ears and mail them to their beloved; they will go numb as fear in the headlights and cease to respond to any stimuli, any helpfulness on the part of friends or family. They will die over complications of love more frequently than anything else. Love gone bad is worse for a BP individual than Stage 4 cancer.

Which is why I'm switching my life major at Universe University to Humor, beginning with Laughter 101. Laughter 101 is where you first begin to learn, when pain announces its throb at your very heart, to find something or someone that makes you smile. YouTube is a good place to start, until you can drag yourself out of the house. Ruminating over the past is not a good place to start, and will lower your grades in Laughter 101. The past is not where you live. And PS? Five minutes ago is the past, sucker--this is the present. Right now. No, now--get it? Go forward. Go into that unknown--where fear lives--one moment at a time, one present, laughing, irreverent moment at a time. Tell fear that you own this moment now; and this one, and this one. Tell fear to go kick rocks. Or as a friend just said to me today: "If you're going through hell, keep going." What have you got to lose? You're already in there. Might as well get up, get going, get through. And let hell's ears ring with the maniacal laughter on your lips.

Laughter 101, lesson 1

KB © 6/30/2013


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