I don’t know what to write about.
I don’t just mean right now, even though that’s also true. I mean in a big-picture sense—I don’t know what to write about anymore.
I always intended to write whatever I wanted.
Early, I flirted with writing about dating. Not in any advice capacity because I was always so bad at it, but the stories of my experiences in doing so. I thought it might be funny reading about an inept middle-aged dater trying to figure it all out.
It didn’t take me long to realize I didn’t have the stomach for it. I LIKE the people I have gone out with. Writing about them in the way I like to write about things seems invasive and I’m not going to do it.
Most people read this space because of stories about my marriage and divorce. I think people like reading about someone willing to point the finger at himself rather than blaming everyone else for their life circumstances.
I wasn’t evil. I wasn’t even really “bad.” I was just a subpar spouse (though I like the word “shitty”) for so many years that the negativity piled up to a breaking point and eventually collapsed when the shit pile got too massive.
You don’t know this, but I REALLY don’t like being cliché even though I totally am sometimes. I can’t NOT be a single father 23 months removed from my marital separation.
I don’t keep my house as tidy as I should. I sometimes forget things my son needs for school. I let my mail and laundry pile up.
You know. Cliché. What you might expect of a domesticated husband and father finding himself totally on his own for the first time in 35 years of life.
But that stuff is all bullshit.
I’m not going to write about all the salty-water marks (from crappy winter—not oceanfront living) tracked onto my kitchen floor, or a leaky shower head I never fix because only guests use it and I rarely have those, or some other inconsequential life thing indicative of my disorganization.
I feel like I might be getting a little cliché as a writer.
I’m tired of writing about divorce.
Life Is About Today, Not Yesterday
Only people really good at mindful mediation know how to shut their always-busy brains off for a few minutes.
According to writer and speaker Andy Puddicombe from his excellent 2012 TED Talk in London: Humans spend an estimated 47 percent of our lives (when we’re not asleep) reflecting on the past or thinking about the future.
Half the time! Not being present. Not living right now.
Seems sad considering how short on time we all are.
My divorce is yesterday. My marriage mattered. My son matters. My getting-to-a-healthy-place relationship with my ex-wife matters.
But my divorce is yesterday.
And perhaps those stories matter to a few people who can benefit from the experience of others. I’m not afraid to share them when they seem relevant.
People sometimes call me a “divorce blogger.” It’s happened a bunch of times. I don’t think I want to be a divorce blogger.
I Like Telling Stories
I worry sometimes (because I’m a little hyper-sensitive to what others think about me which is a horrible life habit and a colossal waste of time) about coming off like I think I’m a self-help writer or some guy who thinks his opinion is worth listening to.
My opinions are worth the same as everyone else’s. (Not much.)
My opinion ONLY matters when a reader closely identifies with me. They read crap I write and decide: “Wow. I’m a lot like this guy because all those same things happened to me and I felt the same way!” In THAT rare instance where we’re all on the same page is when you should be like: “Oh, Matt likes this song, and that restaurant, and believes being an insufferable cock to his wife is a bad idea! Perhaps I’ll consider that!”
All I really want to do is tell you a story. The only ones I know are the ones I’ve lived. And if you’re sort of like me, maybe there’s value there.
Or maybe not.
Like my favorite writer James Altucher often says: This is not advice. This is just what happened to me.
Divorce is shitty. And really hard. And it has mostly defined my life and certainly my writing over the past however many months.
But tomorrow and the next day and the one after that?
Divorce is going to continue to shrink in importance for me. I’m not going to let most of my life and thoughts and experiences live in dark, shitty places.
I’m not going to let the worst thing that ever happened to me define my existence moving forward.
There’s too much good. Too much beauty. Too much opportunity out there to spend so much time looking back feeling sad and angry and horrible.
We aren’t all stuck being “who we are.”
We can be different tomorrow. Better.
I’m not what I thought I would be when I imagined my life at almost-36.
I don’t know whether I’ve failed to meet the expectations of my parents. Of my extended family. Of my friends. I’ve never asked.
But I know I’ve failed myself. And it is disappointing.
I haven’t lived up to the standards and ideals I always imagined for myself.
But one of the most important lessons of my adulthood is that it doesn’t have to be this way. No matter what. We can make a different choice. A better one. Right now, if we want.
I get to decide who I am today. I’ll get to decide again tomorrow.
And then we go change things.