For a man my age my life is far from typical. Though many may say this, I would wager that mine is further from normality than most.
I am twenty-nine years old, I am the full time carer for my thirty one year old sister, we live together with my sixty-six year old retired mother.
Some people might look on my situation with admiration. Others with suspicion.
What is motivating that twenty-nine year old man with the whole world at his feet to remain still, stuck in one place, physically and mentally?
Their doubts would be well founded. I ask my self a similar question most days. Often when the day is dawning and distractions are waning, I am left with nothing to confront other than the question of what my life’s purpose really is.
The experience of feeling this question saturate my presence is not pleasant. It’s heavy. Suffocating. I feel like I’m drowning and the air that I’m gasping for is an answer to the question that I don’t know.
In passing I would say that it is Love that keeps me where I am. But Love is an easy word to throw around. I would say that I believe that Love is the purpose of life because I am Christian. But being able to say the words doesn’t require any evidence that they’re true.
I could quite as easily say that I am scared. So awfully scared, to the point of tears, of what pain I will feel if I changed everything and left my current situation behind.
If I flew off into another life of city lights, social gatherings, nine to five careers, solo aims, personal ambitions. Somewhere closer to normality, but somewhere further from Love?
I can feel the imaginary visions that would haunt me from the vantage of normalcy. My mother’s humble face, her brow furrowed, tears held back to be cried in her bed that evening. My sisters innocent face, all alone, no one to look back at her, no one to pull her out from the confusion of her disabled mind. The two of them, weighted, straining under the pressure. Me, free, lost in aims and goals, what for?
What good would this normalcy be if sadness and guilt crippled me at every moment?
How could I take a step without guilt weighing my steps. How could I smile without sadness pulling tears from my eyes.
How could I find enjoyment knowing I had willingly left Love behind?
Day to day distraction is an amazing thing. You can do anything and layer it with coating of eloquence to make it seem like it’s something that it isn’t. I can look after my sister, help her get ready for day care — I can call it Love. I can visit my dementia addled grandmother with my mum — I can call it Love. I can write about things. All in the name of…Love?
But what does it mean to do something because of Love — what does it feel like? What is the litmus test for it’s presence? What in this world can I measure it against?
What does it feel like to do things because of guilt? To do the thing and then feel relief that the guilt doesn’t have any material to work with, I’m excused from its grasp and relief blesses me. This feels good, but does it feel good like Love feels good? What is the difference?
In the present moment during life’s distractions, the darkness doesn’t come and the questions don’t weigh, Love and guilt fade into insignificance until they rear their head when there’s nothing to fill the present moment apart from presence itself.
Maybe I just keep living this distracted moment and leave the question at bay.
You can’t think yourself out of drowning.
I take solace in the morning. With each new day comes a new chance. My reserves of hope are filled anew.
I’ll keep waiting for that next morning. Maybe one morning the answers will suddenly come and the darkness will disappear forever.
Maybe then I will know what the difference is between Love and guilt.
Thanks for reading,