The Meaning of Life….or My Simple Version of it.

What if the meaning of life is our connection to other people? What if the whole point of this chaotic existence is having interactions and relationships with others? What if we could derive the most meaning from experiencing the everyday things we take for granted. The moment of a sunrise, the taste of chocolate, the sound of rain. There needn’t be a moment beyond it.

What if that’s it?

Family is like the universe giving us a head start. We have a default group of people who are there to share and love and connect with us right from the beginning. And those who are lucky to have family, are all the more enriched by learning how to cultivate these relationships, and understand the importance of having them, taking the good with the bad, the highs with the lows. Letting go of the expectations that any family has to be a certain thing, and most importantly, forgiving mistakes. Being human means being flawed, and we hurt each other and we can mend. I’m discovering that the people who have the most meaningful lives are the ones who know that loving someone else, being there for someone without conditions, that’s the most rewarding gift of all.

I was the kid who would play with anyone. I made friends with the other kids that were ignored. I didn’t want people to feel left out. Which, I guess is how I started to feel from a very early age. Even to this day, friends of mine tell me that I’m too friendly, and I try to make friends everywhere I go, with baristas, grocery store cashiers, people in waiting rooms. I’ve always had this knee-jerk reaction to want to connect with everyone. Somehow, for a long time, this part of me was walled up and guarded. I became angry and resentful, unwilling to forgive and bitter. I cut friendships, I ended relationships, I walked away from people all the time, in fear of their hurting me. These walls need to come down. And I’m breaking them one by one.

Without people in it, life is less meaningful, and so I hope this project brings together as many as are willing. And I hope that I can be one of the people that others can lean on, and come to, because I understand that life will be more meaningful when they do. All the missing pieces of me that have been scattered throughout my life, I hope it’s not to late to retrace my steps and pick some of them back up. We don’t get to choose what happens to us when we’re kids, and so the sins of our parents can have repercussions that they never intended. But, luckily, we can pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and start all over again.

As long as there’s still time….

…Of The Rest of My Life

Today is my 44th birthday. And yes, spending it in the Coronavirus lockdown is a bit of a bummer. The world is on a weird pause at the moment.

But I’ve seen this retreat, this isolation as a reason to step back and look at my life and reevaluate what’s important. For too long I’ve had it in my head that in order to feel happy, to achieve anything valuable in my life, I needed other people to tell me. I searched for validation in everything I did, and judged my success in how well it was received.

Then something changed. I started to see success as something I could achieve without the help of anyone else’s approval.

No longer do I see success in my life as being defined by how other people see me.  I don’t hold on to addictions and behaviors as a way of guarding against the world that I’m convinced is stacked against me. I’ve learned that if you think the world is against you, guess what, it will be.

I sit in this quietness, and I feel overwhelmed by memories, by distances between myself and the people who I have known, who have been the people that have made me, taught me, loved me, shaped me into the forty-four-year-old version of me that sits typing this on his birthday, in a self-appointed quarantine, during a worldwide pandemic.

Who could have ever predicted this?

So what’s it all about?

Closing that gap. The spaces between us. And, ironically perhaps, it took a complete isolation to make me see it.

When I was eighteen I changed my name. I was born Edward Drewno. I was named after my father, who was named after his father.  I never met his father because he was murdered in 1968. My dad had a falling out with his family, and from the time I was five-years-old, I never saw them again. I didn’t feel attached to my name, because it felt like an extension of a group of people that I didn’t know. A group of people my father didn’t want in his life.

I took my mom’s family name because I felt more connected to her family.  More importantly, I wanted to feel connected to a family. I’ve always wanted that. But I also never wanted anyone to see my vulnerable side. Growing up gay, I learned early that I had to be guarded, I had to perform as someone I wasn’t, if I was going to survive. And I’ve carried this guarded version of myself into my adult life, into my relationships, and as a result, I’ve lost many people along the way. And I feel separated from nearly everyone in my family.

This is a project to reclaim them.

I want to create a sort of living community. A place where I can share and reconnect. We’re all isolated at the moment, but we don’t have to be alone. I have pages in here for stories, memories, photos and discussions.

Please leave comments, send me emails, send me pictures. Let’s all re-connect and create something we can share together while there’s still time…