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OP-ED: Me When Earthly Desires Become Premeditated Disappointments


Photo of Daniel Scanlon by Daniel Scanlon

Credit: Daniel Scanlon

The waters don't really go by me

Give me something I can see

Something bigger and louder than the voices in me

  • Weyes Blood, “Something to Believe”

I am too profound to mine my disappointments for literary nuggets of artistic wisdom – is what the liberal agenda wants you to believe!

How open-hearted can you be and still survive? I wish I had all of the answers! While it’s a beautiful thing to be vulnerable and open everywhere you go, the universe has a habit of throwing you curveballs that leave you emotionally fragile at the mandatory Greek-life DEI programming you attend to keep your group in good standing with the university. It’s okay, drawing a clown nose on your face and sending it to your Romanian pseudo-cupid is as good of a comedic relief as you’re gonna get in these types of situations (My reaction to that information asf!). 

I’m #adulting at the Panhellenic diversity event while someone in a position of authority in the sorority known as Delta Delta Delta is trying to bargain with the event coordinator to leave the event early. “We already had to reschedule our chapter meeting…” “Yeah… so that meeting shouldn’t’ve happened…”  The true mark of #adulting is the ability to shift gears when necessary. 

I hate to let you go, but if I don't then we both know

I'll bury us both, fed to the night (as ghosts)

  • Ethel Cain, “Michelle Pfeiffer” 

This fragile heart stuff is … dare I say … starting to feel passé. Ugh! I must admit, though, it feels great having a goal to complain about while still desperately pursuing it. 

The long-term goal is to honor that  loving, generous, effusive, and pragmatic soul, committed to protecting a fragile heart while also sharing the endless resources of that heart with a world often limp, despondent, and paralyzed in fear. The long-term goal is to become a glistening, courageous mermaid who’s assertive enough to tell his little aquatic reef buddies where the best basking spots are while also being flexible enough to breathe (with gills, of course) in the romance of the wide open sea. To become amorphous. To inhabit multitudes. To become a hot-glue gun, hardening the extruded material when the situation demands a certain assertiveness, and at other times, melting, becoming liquid so as to demonstrate a necessary softness, soft enough to bind even the most unlikely materials together. 

“Awakening to love can happen only as we let go of our obsession with power and domination.”

  • bell hooks, “All About Love” 

A brilliant mermaid with long brown locks of hair and elaborate scales, wedged into the Harnwell College House elevator shaft, might inspire some potential friends but also repel others who may well be just as fit to love him, but shudder, fearing an absolute explosion of emotions will engulf them in chaos and selfishness. He is not selfish — quite the opposite! — but they don’t know that as they watch the Building Operations Manager try to pull seashells and fish bones out of the crevices in the wall. 

There’s no end to the recalibrating, even after you beat the average on a FNCE1000 midterm. If you’re blessed with acuity, sensitivity, thoughtfulness, and courage, this can be tantamount to a death sentence. We don’t want to placate. 

We can still access the mermaid, those colorful parts of self, even if the mermaid wanted to make it to the Atlantic Ocean for spring break but only made it as far as the interstitial no-man's-land between the tenth and ninth floors. 

Diva: everything is going to be okay (heart emoji).  Your flexible, forgiving love is an echo of the adaptable, fluid turmoil of being alive. Sometimes you’re just the only one brave enough to bring those feelings into the elevator. Sometimes it’s easier to leave those things at home, tucked in the bottom-most cabinet of an IKEA dresser. 

I want you to make space for what comes next. More mistakes, more premeditated disappointments, more seashells caught in elevators, more stories, more love, more delicious blasts of knowledge. It’s the only way you can become visible to yourself.