And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
--Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 5
Defeat is something we interpret from the results of our actions. The same is true of victory. It all lies in the interpretation and whether or not we are willing to see more than what appears most obvious. There is a calculation of what result we desire from our actions that is rated against the actual result of those actions and that is the most obvious interpretation. Most people go through life making such calculations and in a sense keeping score of their life in this way. Disappointment results from defeat and depression is often the result of compiling defeats, which then results in stacking the deck against ourselves. Too many tallies in the defeat column causes us to anticipate and interpret defeat more readily. We become clouded to the potential for a bigger picture when our interpretation of the outcomes from our actions becomes inclined to see defeat as the result of anything aside from a very narrow definition of victory.
What doesn't happen allows something else to happen. What does happen leads to something else happening. One event leads to another and often defeat on one front is necessary to allow victory on another. The concept is most simply stated in the often repeated mantra of "everything happens for a reason." More often, everything doesn't happen for a reason because by not happening it opens another door. When one door closes a window is broken.
You'll have to break the glass to go through that window. Victory often comes with a price. It comes with the price of the accumulated losses that take you to the field of battle where that victory becomes possible. It also comes with a price tag, one that says we must use our accumulated knowledge and experience, which cannot be gained without accumulating losses, but also that we must take great risks to attain victory. The truly meaningful victories do not come without these price tags. Risk, accumulated experience and knowledge are the assets we have to spend in the game of life.
We have a habit of putting labels on things and on people. Maybe it is more of a need at times, but more often than not it is done out of habit. We need definitions to sidestep confusion. I've been married for more than a decade, but I'm not really married. My marriage is something that is almost impossible to define by the definitions most people have. Some people will say to me, "If you aren't with your wife any longer you should get divorced." Neither my wife or I has ever seen any reason to get divorced. We're the best of friends and have no desire to get married to someone else. And we'd rather spend the money it would require to file for divorce on other things, like food and rent. We live in different states, more as a result of our jobs than anything else, but we're not estranged because we talk all the time. We understand each other and can often be called on to translate the other's words and actions for other people. Both of us take great risks in life and sometimes we stumble. We're there for each other when we fall because we're the only two that can truly empathize with the nature of those falls because we are very similiar in many ways. We just can't stand living together and we've never really been "in love." What we misinterpreted as being in love was actually the miraculous discovery of kindred spirits in a world where neither of us thought we really had any such kindred spirits.
My wife is my grounding wire, she provides something that I struggle to be without. It has been said by many that my function is to drift through the lives of many people and in a short time give them something they would otherwise never have. Once that is given I must leave or it becomes dangerous and explosive.
More than a decade ago I went to visit a close friend in the hospital. He was dying of terminal leukemia and had decided he wanted to spend his last days at home with his wife. It would shorten his time in this place to do so and it would come with a price of greater physical pain, but he had made the decision, he said, with support from a certain nurse who worked on his floor there in the ward that provided comfort to the terminally ill. When we left that day and stepped onto the elevator I looked back through the closing elevator door at the nurse who was sitting behind the desk, who happened to be Tina, the first queen of my personal mythology. This was the same woman who a few years earlier I had somehow inspired to continue her pursuit of a career in nursing and to overcome her fear of death to the point where she decided to work with terminally ill patients. I knew immediately that she was the nurse he had turned to for counsel, who had gone against policy in her advice to him, because it was the same advice I would have given him. It was a moment of perfect synchronicity and as Tina and I stared at each other and nodded, as the elevator door slowly closed, more slowly than any elevator door has ever closed, I knew something special had been achieved.
In the present day I often reflect on this, which is referred to in my personal mythology as The Captain Nemo Miracle. I also reflect on the knowledge of the events that destroyed me, that in my mythological terms killed TheDeadGuy, which began with the second queen of my mythology trying to drag me down into the depths of despair and pain that were her world. The end game of those events was the eventual resurrection of the second queen into a functional and happy life that was only made possible by my abandoning her.
These things are worthy of reflection, as many past events are, in order to put perspective on the present. If we do not learn from our life experiences we are not truly living. The lesson that is most evident to me in these experiences is that what I do and what impact I have on the lives of others is never what I think it is when the events are in the present tense. And it is also clear that only by misunderstanding what is going on as a result of my involvement while it is going on can I bring about the end result.
This is, as you might imagine, frustrating as hell.
The third queen of my mythology was more moved by my presence in her life than either of the other two. My interaction with her left her seemingly spellbound in such a way that those who knew us were completely in awe of what one called the "electricity" between us. What she brought about in me inspired me to regenerate, to overcome the destruction that had mapped the journey of my life for five years and find myself again. Her decision to reunite with an abusive husband and turn her back on me made no sense to me and drove me to much sorrow and pain, in part because I knew she did it for their children. As the product of parents who got married because of my conception and who never got along, were never compatible in any way, and between whom there was much emotional abuse it was especially difficult to see such a decision made.
And so with reflection I remember that with the first and second queens of my mythology when I thought all was lost I realized I had accomplished far more than I intended or expected. Each day I try to believe it will be much the same with the third queen, as each day I watch her living with her misery and unhappiness while I walk through each day smiling and doing what I can to be a positive influence on the lives of others.
And sometimes I wonder if she really realizes the reason I can do that again is because of her. And sometimes I wonder if maybe she isn't so much my queen as I am her jack.