Blue Balls and Lighting Fires

blue balls and lighting fires When you’re laying on a table getting your back tattooed as I was yesterday, there are a few things that go through your mind:

1.  Oh…that’s not so ba…JESUS!
2.  Is he done yet?
3.  That’s a pretty pattern in the cracking plaster on the ceiling.
4.  What the hell got me here?

Focus on #4. December 21, 2010 – and how the hell did I get to be face-down on a table in Fort Collins, Colorado getting a permanent piece of ink that effectively covers 1/3 of my back from my neck down? Yeah, yeah – you can be a smart ass and say I made the appointment and drove my car there, but honestly – it’s been one helluva a year. There couldn’t be a better title for today’s post than Blue Balls and Lighting Fires, and it’s uncanny that I found a stock photo with all of the required elements.

It occurred to me that we tend to think of life broken up into years. 2009. 2010. The looming 2011. I just turned 38. In two years, I’ll be 40. Years – everywhere.

Years are pretty much bullshit. They’re like a half-assed gift wrapping job on a basketball – there because you feel like someone’s going to experience a modicum of surprise when they open it. OH! A basketball! I had no idea! vs. OH! Another year! You shouldn’t have.

Wrapped basketballs are the years of the time measurement arena. We keep wrapping time up in seemingly manageable packages, but it doesn’t help. We break New Years resolutions, we spend too much, we love too little of our hearts and we expect the occurrence of yet another year to change things. And that, my friends, is a colossal load of holiday-flavored bullshit*. (*available in Peppermint, Pumpkin Spice and Banana Bread)

January 1 doesn’t change anything. It’s a reference point. And while I’ve pretty much had my head up my ass on the emotional side of things since Jason died on October 31, I know that January 1, 2011 won’t change the things I want to be changed most. So if you asked me today how my year was, you’d probably get a squinty look and a curled lip accompanied by a, “It sucked, to be honest.” I’m incapable of seeing my life in a block of a single 12 months.

But if you ask me about my decade…my decade has been beyond compare.

Ten years ago, I was 28. If I compare life as I knew it then to life as I know it today, there’s a chasm between that’s filled with experience. Joy. Laughter. Loss. Success. Travel. Firsts. Lasts. Love. Ideas.

That’s a helluva lot better picture than a year that I started in love with a man who didn’t deserve it and that I’m ending having suddenly lost the one man who did.

If I chose to look at my life in years, I’m just giving myself blue balls.

Looking at it in decades…that’s a picture of a woman who’s lit fires and watched them burn.

I like the fire.

The holidays are rough for me this year, no lie. But the coolest thing about a decade – you can take a snapshot of any ten years and look at what you’ve created. Where have you been? What did you do? We place such enormous pressure on ourselves to have our “best year yet” every January 1, but do we ever stop to consider that we’ve had a pretty fucking epic collection of years? It’s a simple question to answer – the “what got me here” with regards to the back tattoo on December 21, 2010. But I’m realizing I like NOT the big picture – I like the bigGER picture. It gives me a lot more credit for being a human being than the immediate 12 months prior ever could.

Lighten the load on yourself. Cut yourself some slack. You can start anything at any time. Only you can choose if you’re going to give yourself blue balls or discover that you’re capable of lighting fires that burn through time like an iron on vinyl.

Happy holidays – and a special thanks to The Denver Post for featuring a certain loud-mouthed redhead in the Sunday paper on the 19th. It’s another thing that adds to a pretty fucking epic decade. Hat tip.

33 comments
Melanie
Melanie

I got my first tattoo this year, and it went exactly like that. It was a stick-and-poke, and I am pretty sure the friend (who yes, had done this and had it done to himself before) intentionally plunged the first four not-quite-hard-enough in before he asked how I felt. "Not as bad as I thooooooFGYIIIIIdamnouchdamnyougottabekiddingme!? Five pokes down, several thousand to go. We did turn on the TV in an effort to distract me from the plaster and the indented fingernail-crescents in my leg. The only thing on at 2 AM was Air Force One. Better than I remembered. Nothing like swelling music over dramatic gazes, guns, and testosterone to take your mind off the ohmywordsweatbreakingthrougheveryporeMYFOOTTHEPAINfuuuuuuuuuIhateyouDale! The tattoo was symbolic of my year. It was good, it was horrible, but mostly, it was a new start on the *way* I'm living my life. The big picture.

Danny
Danny

I loved this post, thanks for writing it! You mentioned in your post "I started in love with a man who didn’t deserve it", I have no doubt that is true but it made me think of something that I would love to get your thoughts on. It seems to me love generally turns to hate when you break up with a person, (or it seems to have in my personal life) why do you think that is? Most seem to get vindictive and spiteful even if they are the one that broke up with the other person. Memories become tainted instead of just remembering it for the good that it was. Not that you're like this, I'm trying to understand myself a little bit more. :) Thanks!

Brenna Smith
Brenna Smith

Seriously needed this one. For so so so so many reasons! As with your other posts, LOVE IT! And I'm with Laura...want to see your tattoo! I am toying w/getting another one but don't know what I'd get or where!

Sylvia
Sylvia

You are so right! Looking at my past decade, I've made great progress as well. And will continue to do so. I did see your write up in the DP, congratulations! From here it's just a short step to running for office... May your holidays be peaceful and spent with good friends.

Laura Olley
Laura Olley

Million dollar question --- what's the tattoo????

Chelsea Talks Smack
Chelsea Talks Smack

Yet another incredible post and I wish you a beautiful holiday....I know youre heart is going through THE SHIT, and I'm sending every ounce of "joyful vibes" your way.

PragmaticMom
PragmaticMom

I'm so sorry that this past year was a rough one but I was glad to hear about your span of 10 years and how great that was. You have a great perspective on what matters most. ps are you going to show us your tattoo? hey, you are the one who mentioned it!

Julie Davis Friend
Julie Davis Friend

Just loved this entry! A great perspective. While I am not an ink fan, I definitely am awaiting the "tat" blog!

The Rhodonite Heart
The Rhodonite Heart

I had the same experience: 2010 had relationship I needed to exit. my father died in January. and the perfect man for me died on Nov. 5 after I had only know him for 4.5 months. I'm going to be 41 in about a month.I feel your pain, sister, I truly do.

Kat Jaibur
Kat Jaibur

I like the idea of looking at the decades, especially since I now have a few in my collection. And what an awesome bunch they have been. The last one was about loss and regrouping, reclaiming, and finding out just how very adaptable and resourceful --and determined to have a joyful life -- I can be. Now, it's about finding the beauty and the good and the grace -- and the humor -- in the every day. Lighting a fire doesn't always have to be a bonfire. What a gift. Leave it to you to find that photo. Your awesomeness abounds.

Grant Griffiths
Grant Griffiths

And this is why you are one of my must reads. Thank you!!!

Ken Montville
Ken Montville

I get the part about the delineation of time and the importance of seeing the bigger picture. But, why the tattoo? On your back? And of what? Do share!

Davaleestewart
Davaleestewart

Comparing years to wrapped basketballs = awesomeness

Kath
Kath

So very true. Dec 7 was the 9 year anniversary of my divorce. Looking back on my life pre-divoce and comparing it to post-divorce sucker punches me every time (in a very good way). The older you get, the more you get to compare. And contrast. Much love to you in your onward journey...both geographically & emotionally. x0 <3

MegCarpen
MegCarpen

Great point about the year. I've often found that when you ask people how their year went, they tell you what they feel at that point. Rarely do people take a few moments to think abut the whole year, they only think about the last few months, if that. Time is a tricky thing to tack down to just a short period here, a few moments there. I think the only good thing about Jan. 1 is so many people are making goals, seeing how they've done in the past year, it's hard not to get caught up in all of that. You almost have to sit and evaluate with the rest of the world. Doesn't mean that you can't set your own way of doing it. I actually love that you look at the past decade. My decade started horribly, but it's getting better. It's taking a lot of work, but I'm in a far better place now than I was 10 years ago!

Brian Watkins
Brian Watkins

Congrats on the new ink! While I certainly have no illusions either that come January 1 everything is going to be different, I set some goals of what I want from 2011 as a year. I've never been a very goal-oriented person until the last year or so, so I find it helps pave some direction to create some expectations. I don't make a list of resolutions, though, because it's too complicated and like you said—we're likely just to break them.

Trackbacks

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