Down To Earth Or Up In The Clouds

As children, many of us are often told we can do anything and become whoever we want when we grow up. Then we start growing up. With every year that passes, more and more of those options are stricken off that imaginary list. We discover ourselves, we understand what doesn’t suit us, we figure out what we don’t want to or cannot do. Whether we like it or not, we learn that wanting something doesn’t necessarily mean we can find a way to get it, contrary to urban legends and positive thinking myths. Yet we keep going, we still plan ahead and we find new purposes every day, because the present and the past are not enough, we also need some sort of hope for the future we can hold on to.

The dreams may not be full of grandeur, our younger selves would have probably not even called them dreams, yet realistic expectations and the anticipation of something more, something new or at least something we have experienced, loved and want to relive is not something to ignore. But what happens if we’ve exhausted all the items on that imaginary list – either because we’ve accomplished them or because they will forever be out of reach – and we have nothing else to replace them with, what happens then?…

She really has nothing to look forward to, everything she ever hoped for is behind her now and she is not that old yet… The thought crossed my mind, while wondering how long the woman can go on about her cats. I looked at the phone once again – over half an hour since that conversation had started and it didn’t seem to come close to its end. As usual, she had no regard for other people’s needs or for their time. Had she paid as much attention to the people in her life as she did her cats, her marriage and her life in general would be so much better, I couldn’t help thinking…

Much like Icarus, she got too close to the sun. It had been a relatively quick and sweet ascent and she’s been in some sort of chaotic free-fall ever since, it dawned on me. Every time you thought she was about to hit the ground, you realized she can somehow avoid it – anything to avoid being down to earth, accepting the reality for what it was and dealing with it. Nothing could compare to that blinding, cruel, mesmerizing sun; nobody could compete with the sun. She couldn’t find a way to keep living up there, suspended above everybody else, looking down on a world inferior to her and her sun. She couldn’t duplicate the flight to perfection, that was a once in a lifetime experience. But she would not accept herself for who she was and what everyday life meant either, somehow avoiding to crash into reality at any cost.

The cost had proven to be rather high. There had been false suns and the pretence of flight, she had hope and dreams of getting back up there, above everything and superior to all, yet all those hopes and dreams inevitably dissolved into sad, hopeless, dreamless reality. She couldn’t have the sun and she couldn’t live up in the clouds, so nothing else mattered, nothing and nobody would be good enough. One by one, real, decent, accomplished people who loved her where pushed aside or torn apart because they were here, on earth, living real lives, with their amazingly nice, terribly bad and boringly neutral moments. None of them could ever offer her the height of the sky, a palace in the clouds, so they were clearly against her, a drain and a burden on her existence.

Her list was empty and she was determined to keep it empty. There was nothing she could have anymore, nothing great would happen to her again, because she didn’t consider anything or anyone real worth wanting. Her memories of the glamorous past were exaggerated and at times made up, and the beauty of sun didn’t make it less untouchable, but she wouldn’t hear of it.

I looked at the phone once more… almost an hour. Nonsensical cat stories, invalid complaints and constant self-pity left no room for any interest in others and their sad, happy or average existences. She may lead a sad life, but that doesn’t mean I have to do the same, even if I do try to make it better for her. So with one semi-transparent excuse, I’m back down to earth, breathing a sigh of relief. I know she’s pouting, but I also know this would not be our last conversation… because I am one of the very, very few people she’s got left. What can I say, it’s cloudy up there…

In response to WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge – Earth.

22 Replies to “Down To Earth Or Up In The Clouds”

  1. I know an elderly woman like that, one who has pushed people away all her life, and continues, in her nineties to do so. Now she can no longer do the one thing that gave her solace, she is adrift, waiting for death and fearing it at the same time. I feel such a depth of sadness for her, for if she were able to see with slightly different eyes, she would be alive with joy. I know this about her. None of us who love her is successful in helping her to see that side of this old-age predicament. I think we fear, too, that it will happen to us

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    1. I know what you mean, it’s so sad to see them throwing away potential happiness and peace. It’s their life and they should live it the way they choose – even if we may not consider it to be the right choice – yet it isn’t always something easy to witness. It’s scary as well, the closer we are to them, the more we realize how it could happen to us too… so we fear that next disappointment, that next bump in the road… after all, it doesn’t take much for everything to collapse and we are not immune, who knows how we might handle it…

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  2. This is so true …your post really makes you think. My Son is going on 16 and he has a dream list and the endurance and will power to most likely to succeed . As scary as this is to me. but I hope he succeeds. Thank you for sharing. I know I have some what if’s….

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    1. Wow, that’s such an important time in a young person’s life, I can see why you’d be scared and thrilled at the same time. I remember having a list when graduating from high school, I accomplished some of the things on it, others I simply realized were unrealistic expectations. Either way, list or no list, those what if’s are inevitable and they keep accumulating as years go by… But as long as we don’t let them suffocate us and all the good things that have resulted from out previous choices, we might just be able to handle them 🙂 .
      Best of luck to your son and lots of strength and patience to you!

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