"I began to realize how important it was to be an enthusiast in life. [He taught me that] if you are interested in something, no matter what it is, go at it at full speed ahead. Embrace it with both arms, hug it, love it and above all become passionate about it. Lukewarm is no good. Hot is no good either. White hot and passionate is the only thing to be."
-- Roald Dahl
This has been staring at me for a couple of weeks and this morning in the midst of the earthquake it struck me that this is the only way to live. I'm not sure it's particularly English. Rather like being good at games, you don't want to appear to be trying too hard, but is there really any point to a life that is half-arsed?
I spent a good deal of time, as readers of this blog know, withering away, atrophying, neglected and have come to the conclusion that anything you want that's important has to be embraced full-on with all your energy. I vow never to be in that sad place again.
My lovely ex-husband (and how I never thought I'd be typing those words attached to each other) called me last night just to see how I was doing. "I'm just checking in. We haven't spoken for a bit" he said. Now there's no-one in the world that knows me better than him, not a soul, not even close, and while our various issues and proclivities did not make for a lasting marriage, we love and care about each other and, I dare say, would take a bullet for each other. He is softer, more reflective, more aware of why he behaves the way he does. And he wants me to be happy. He wants me to date someone who is worth my time. "I like being alone," I said to him "but I don't want to be alone." You see, when you've been half of a whole, one of a two, you realize it's more fun that way. You get used to the nice warm man-sized lump in the bed next to you, the eyes across the table, the hand in yours underneath it, the being wrapped in blankets on a cold deck and reading together in spectacles. I'd watched "Twelve Years A Slave" and I wanted to talk to someone about it who wouldn't care if I was sobbing and emotional. I wanted someone to be happy to hear from me, whatever I had to say. I explained this to him, a bit lumpy, I'm afraid, a bit snotty, a bit feeling sorry for myself, and he got it and he listened.
And then we talked about old patterns. The things we're comfortable with but not particularly proud of. The rhythms we fall into even though they don't ultimately make us feel particularly good. The things we do to reinforce the ways we think about ourselves, however old the tape, however outdated the story. It's not surprising to me, for example, the the current object of my affections lives thousands of miles away, reinforcing the absent longed-for father. It's not surprising that the longing becomes the thing, instead of being comfortable and happy and excited by the attentive, loving kindness of someone close by, someone who checks in, someone who is there, by your side, all the time. I don't know why that doesn't do it for me. It's what I long for and yet, and yet...
Yesterday I was overwhelmed with love. My lovely screenwriter clients got an Oscar nomination and everyone was giddy. "Lobster Benedict all round" said my friend.
Be in it or don't be in it. But don't half way in. Don't hedge. Just take it full on or don't. Is there really any point at all in half-hearted embraces. (You know, like the people who offer you their shoulder when you go in for a hug?) I'm the worst. I fall so hard. I don't know how to be tentative. I don't know how to do things by halves.
"Lukewarm is never an option." -- Tony Scott