Personal Responsibility

By Austin B. Hahn

In my experience, when you don’t take control of your own life, one of the following happens:

1) People try to take control for you, and then you get angry because your life is at the mercy of others’ whims.

or

2) Your survival is put in jeopardy, so you’re forced to take care of yourself while trying to catch up with all those years when you could’ve been learning how to take personal responsibility.

Impermanence

By Austin B. Hahn

Disclaimer: this is a fictional story.

(Someone knocks on the door. A young woman named Julia answers it.)

Julia: Greg?

(Greg, frustrated, barges in through the doorway past Julia.)

Greg: I’m done with this Julia.

Julia: What’s the matter?

(Greg pauses for a moment and becomes teary-eyed.)

Greg: I thought about what you said yesterday when we were on the docks. Look, Julia, I know you are going to die of cancer, but you see, I still want to marry you.

(Julia begins to cry.)

Julia: Damn it, Greg! Why did you have to do this to me!?

Greg: Do what, Julia?

Julia: Come into my life, and be this amazing person, and as soon as I get diagnosed with cancer, you want to marry me?

(Greg starts crying.)

Greg: I can’t waste another day knowing that the love of my life is just down the street from me, and I could be married to her. I have been waiting for someone like you my entire life!

Julia: Yeah but I can’t even give you kids! Don’t you want that!? Do you want to wake up one day to a pregnant wife lying dead next to you in bed!?

(Julia is bawling.)

Greg: Of course I would want kids with you! Just because we can’t have a baby doesn’t mean that we can’t be together. No matter how long or short.

(Julia drops to the floor, sobbing. She then looks up at Greg.)

Julia: The doctor said I only have two months left to live.

(Greg walks towards Julia and kneels down to her level.)

Greg: Then we’ll get married. I’ll give you a beautiful wedding and take you to places around the globe with me.

(Greg holds her hand with a promising smile.)

(On May 6th, 1974, Greg and Julia Andrews married outside of the Sistine Chapel. They experienced everything together, from African skies to Italian cuisine, and visited the three cities Julia wanted to see in her life: Paris, Prague, and Rome. One day, as Julia held on to the back of Greg while riding on an elephant in South Africa, she suddenly fell ill. She was rushed to a hospital. Despite receiving medical care, her health became worse each passing hour. In the waiting room, Greg was informed by a doctor that she would not make it. He spent his final moment with Julia sitting next to her while holding her right hand as she lay lifeless on the bed.)

Julia: Thank you for making this a wonderful closing chapter to my life.

Greg: You’re welcome, and I love you.

(Julia gazes into Greg’s eyes.)

Julia: I love you too.

(Julia Andrews was pronounced dead at 11:24 p.m. on July 8th, 1974. Julia’s body was cremated. Her ashes were sprinkled into the Mediterranean Sea, and, back home, along the coast of Los Angeles. Two weeks later, in L.A. on a hot summer day, as Greg sprinkled her remains along the shore, he stopped and looked out into the ocean. He pondered for a minute or two. He wondered why his wife had to be taken away from him so soon. While reflecting upon his loss, he discovered something profound. He knew in his heart that the joy of being married to her, regardless of how short, outweighed the pain of her death. From that moment on, Greg realized he could either live the rest of his life cherishing what has been given to him, or he could dwell on what has been taken away from him.)

Contradictions

By Austin B. Hahn

When I’m quiet, you say, “You seem stiff. Loosen up,” but when I open up, you say, “You’re so fucking weird.”

You adore me at a distance, but once you meet me, you’re disappointed.

You feel so close when you text me, but when you’re with me, I feel as if we’re a thousand feet apart.

You write me lengthy e-mails about how wonderfully your life is going, but you don’t say much whenever I call you.

You hate to see me go, but you can’t wait until I leave.

You ask me how my day was, but you won’t hear anything beyond, “It was good.”

You are proud of me when I’m successful, but as soon as I fail, you act as if I’ve done nothing other than sit on my ass for the last ten years of my life.

You tell me to be confident, but you call me narcissistic when I build my self-esteem.

You love me when I fulfill your idealized image of who you think I should be, but you despise me when I can’t live up to your illusory expectations.

When you say, “I’m always here for you,” I can never believe you because as soon as I turn to you for help, you make up excuses to justify your absence.

I’m tired of your contradictions. I wish you would just make up your damn mind about me. What am I to you?

Karma

By Austin B. Hahn

I’m sorry that I showed you I’m a human being. I was wrong. I was late. I forgot. I failed. I guess I shouldn’t have expected so much from myself in the first place.

You used to praise me and tell me how proud you were of me, but now you stare down at me as if I never had the permission to make a mistake at all.

How I wish I would’ve seen this coming. Like most lower souls, you stick around to rejoice in my success, but you flee when I fall.

I’ll remember. I’ll remember you. I’ll remember to be more discriminating of who I invite into my life. I’ll remember to only surround myself with those who are accepting of the fallible human condition.

Disappointment in itself is created in the psyche by the meaning attached to an experience. I let my failures teach me while you use them to antagonize me and wave them over my head. That’s okay, though. Your pretentious mask of perfection will crack one day, and you’ll be begging me to lend out a hand.

In the end, I’ll be the one with the Mona Lisa smile looking down at you, knowing that someday you would be in the exact same position that I was in.

You’ll remember. You’ll remember me. You’ll remember feeling how much of a fool you were to run away when I needed you most. You’ll remember how heavy the weight of your actions felt on your shoulders as you watched me walk right out of your life . . .