He stood on the street screaming for the end to come. Yearning for his expiration date. He was tired. Tired of searching for meaning in a world that was less than accommodating. Tired of attempting to make order out of chaos. Tired of navigating minefields. So he stood there. Screaming. Sobbing. Pleading to God. “NOW. NOW!! Please, NOW!” I didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or cry. I just knew I sympathized.
I wasn’t out on some city street, listening to someone spout off their beliefs regarding the end of times. I was on date number 32. With Rich. As you may remember, Rich was also Date 21 and Date 31. I had a different date scheduled for that Monday evening. But the day came and went and I never heard from him. Another minefield that I had to navigate to see my 35/35 Project through. Rich invited me to “Pay What You Can Night” to see “A Bright New Boise” at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in DC. I needed a date. I like theatre. I like Rich’s company. That’s how Rich ended up being date 32.
“A Bright New Boise” is the story of a man, Will, whose son was put up for adoption. Will takes a job at a Hobby Lobby, where his son works, in order to establish a connection. The audience learns that Will was a member of a religious cult that was involved in the death of a young boy. Although the congregation no longer exists, Will struggles with his guilt, with wanting to establish a relationship with his son and with living a life that embodies his religious beliefs. Will’s constant analysis of his struggle, and of his beliefs, leads him to an extreme reaction to everyone and everything around him, resulting in his inability to function in the world.
After the show, Rich walked me to my car. As always, the conversation between us flowed and I found it very easy to discuss varying viewpoints on the play, religion and life in general with Rich. We said our goodnight and I started my drive back home. Although Rich and I had decided to take it slow, take our time and not make “rash” decisions (in either direction), I found myself reverting to my bad habit of over-analyzing the date. Specifically, the fact that this was our 3rd date. Actually, the fact that this was our 2nd date in less than 24 hours. My mind started spinning with assumptions. Trying to fill in the blanks to unanswered (or even unasked) questions. Trying to make “order” out of what was essentially “chaos” (dating). Rich checked with me to make sure I got home okay and, by that point, my mind was on high alert and I found myself having extreme, internal, reactions to the most innocent of statements.
As I laid in bed, I asked aloud, “Why do you ALWAYS do this, Rita?” That’s when I realized, I over-analyze and make assumptions about my interactions and relationships, much for the same reason that Will did about his religious beliefs. Because making certain assumptions, can give you hope. Certain assumptions make you excited for what is next. Who doesn’t want to feel hope? Excited? The problem lies in not knowing when to stop. If you don’t put on the breaks at a certain point, you end up veering down a different road than you intended. At the end of which, you find doubt instead of hope. Disappointment instead of excitement. Reading into every detail, placing every word and action under a microscope, in hopes of discovering some “meaning”, leads to expectation. Which leads to disappointment. Which leads to anxiety and doubt. Keep repeating this pattern and suddenly you find that you can’t function properly in the world (this world being the “dating world”). And your inability to function is no more than a product of your own creation.
And after 32 dates, 32 days of self-analysis and reflection, 32 days of putting things under a microscope, I was no longer my normal self. I had conditioned myself to be at an extreme. While I’m looking forward to the next 3 dates, I couldn’t help but whisper aloud “NOW. NOW!” as I thought about the “expiration date” of the 35/35 project. Of returning to a less extreme world where I can stop analyzing everything. Stop writing about every date. Stop being in such a heightened environment that can do nothing but lead me to being pre-occupied with possible motives.
Like the play, life has unanswered questions. Incidents happen out of sequence. There are anti-climatic endings. Clarity often can’t be found. Sometimes, you have to stop searching for meaning. You have to embrace chaos. You have to let things happen. Having hope but having the confidence and optimism to know that everything will work out. You need to negotiate who you are with everything around you instead of letting everything around you, negotiate who you are.
“Sometimes we need to stop analyzing the past, stop planning the future, stop figuring out precisely how we feel, stop deciding exactly what we want, and just see what happens.”
-Carrie Bradshaw (Sex in the City)