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Falling on my ass … ad infinitum

Not too long ago, I had an interaction with someone that, well, didn’t break my heart exactly, but definitely left me wondering just how much I “matter” in the world.

Isn’t it something we all ask ourselves? When you think about it, doesn’t the question – do I matter? – subliminally inform nearly every action we take, or don’t take, and nearly every word we say, or don’t?

Isn’t so much of what we do each day an unconscious attempt to gauge or assert how much we matter – to ourselves, to the world?

We put on our make-up, adjust the ties around our necks, walk past our chemically treated lawns and get into our status-symbol cars – all for what? It’s to “matter” isn’t it? To have others perceive us as attractive, successful, weed-free and sexy?

We work long hours, take our children to soccer practice, work out at the gym, sweat bullets over our dinner parties — all because we want to show others that they matter to us … and that we should matter to them.

But how do we know if we matter? Really matter? And doesn’t that question, hiding away in the dark corners of our mind, cause us to lash out or retreat when really all we want is to love and be loved?

Isn’t that why we fight? Why we pull apart from each other? Why we let relationships whether with our boss, our lover, our child, our brother, or our next door neighbor, dissolve rather than do the hard work to keep them going? Isn’t it because we’re all just a little bit terrified that bottom line, we simply don’t matter?

What’s sad is that most of the time we spin our wheels on things that don’t matter, never did, and never will: Ego. Vanity. False pride. Money. Novel sex. Flashy cars. Botoxed foreheads. Designer shoes. What someone said or didn’t say. Who didn’t fill the ice tray. Who’s right. Who’s wrong.

Some of us think we’ll matter when CEO appears after our name in print, or when we start earning six figures, or have a law degree. Some of us think a wedding ring or a big house in the right neighborhood means we matter. Some of us measure our worth on the matter-meter by the number of hits on our myspace.com site or in how many party invitations we get during the holidays

Anaïs Nin wrote that “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

I want to live so large that my life is like a big balloon, windborne, maybe on the verge of going bust, maybe in danger of running into power lines, but still up there, flying, until it’s absolutely time to come down.

And when that day comes when I run into the sharp end of a stick, or I just gradually lose air and fizzle down into some cow pasture somewhere, well, I hope to hell I don’t have to wonder whether I mattered.

I hope I know I did.

Maybe more importantly, I hope I was able to understand what really mattered outside my own self.

I hope I recognized what mattered when I saw it in the kindness of strangers. I hope I heard it in the music of a songbird outside my window. I hope I knew it in the time I spent with my Mom. I hope I felt it in that moment before someone’s lips touched mine.

And in the meantime, before I shuffle off this mortal coil, I want to live so unequivocally, so imperfectly, so passionately, that absolutely everything matters. At the same time, I want nothing – not love, not money, not success — to matter so much that I become a prisoner of it.

I’m willing to fall on my ass ad infinitum. I’m willing to make mistakes that sometimes can’t be fixed. I’m willing to keep trying at love.

I’m willing to risk not mattering.
——————
Excerpted from my book, Sideways in Sarasota.

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Posted on January 25th, 2009Comments RSS Feed
8 Responses to Falling on my ass … ad infinitum
  1. Beautiful writing the second time around….

    Reply
  2. […] MC Coolidge’s ode to, um, falling on her ass: “Before I shuffle off this mortal coil, I want to live so unequivocally, so […]

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  3. Be consoled by the knowledge that if to no one else, you matter greatly to me..

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  4. Thanks, John! I’ve added your name alongside my Mummy and my cats! :)

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  5. Take him off the list MC and put Dan’s name instead and then me:-)

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  6. Goodness — my list of mattering is growing! Thanks you guys!

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  7. Mary, I don’t think you can even begin to realize at how much you are loved by every single person who reads and responds to your blog. Mary, it’s not because most of us are either married or in a relationship as to why we feel this way. It’s probably because while we’ve been reading you, yes; “you” and have come to know you pretty well. Mary, it’s because you pour your heart and soul in every story you write and I’m certain everyone, men and women included, feel as I do. Mary, it’s also because most of us are a little older and yes, wiser and have been “where you are now”, feeling that while you give it all in your relationships and can’t quite figure out what the heck is going on. Mary, times have certainly changed since the 60’s and 70’s. Women, though are not near as equal to men in regards in the income they bring in (though I bet you will see some much needed change soon), but women have become more independant and aren’t quite ready to “settle down” quite so soon yet. This has also changed the attitudes of men when they date. Mary, believe it or not, some men are still a little “shy” to approach a women that’s truly great looking as they feel they wouldn’t stand a chance at asking her out. Mary, don’t you fret your little head off. Love is going to hit you smack on your head and lift you off your feet before you even realize what hit ya. Mary, 2009 is going to be your year! Take care and again, you are very much loved by each and every person that responds to your blog. We for surely wouldn’t be waisting our time if we didn’t feel this way. You will always have our support! Dan

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  8. Well. I didn’t post that column thinking I’d receive such wonderful messages of support and interest and, well, caring. But it seems that probably none of us knows, really, just how much we matter to others. It’s an awfully good thing for us all to think about.

    Thanks for the good words and thoughts … and of course for taking the time to read and respond!

    Reply

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