Over the course of any given week, I will have some kind of revelation, learn some form of lesson, or come to some sort of realization that makes me feel like I am inching closer and closer to a fully comprehensive understanding of life.
They’re not always great, big, life-altering epiphanies. Sometimes it’s as simple learning how long I can survive without doing laundry (approx four weeks for anyone wondering).
On occasion, it’s a monstrous shift in the universe when I learn how seemingly kind people have the capacity to be heartbreakingly cruel. More often than not, it’s as personal as figuring out how many portions of fried food I can eat between now and Christmas while staying under 200 pounds (approx zero/preferably minus 100 portions).
What has occurred to me lately is how often these miniature lessons both repeat and contradict each other, over and over again.
Is it just a case that human memory is inherently flawed, and we have to be repeatedly hit over the head with the same message so that it stands some hope of staying in there? And as for the relentless contradictions -- are we just to assume that there really are no straight answers?
I’ll get the ugliest one out of the way first, because it’s perhaps the most predictable: all is fair in love and war.
People really don’t hesitate to take this one literally. And fair, in this context, isn’t the objective application of the word. No, no.
Here, in this tiny universe of two, three, four, however many people might be involved in the complex web that is “a relationship,” fair is entirely subjective and can be used as a point of declaration regardless of any universal sense of what fairness might be.
Example: A straight couple are engaged to be married, the man decides to sleep with a female friend but refuses to tell the fiancée or break off the marriage or stop sleeping with the friend.
Reason for fairness: he feels trapped. Ergo, fair. Because unlike an actual bear trap, from which one literally cannot escape, being trapped into a relationship is much more difficult for spineless cowards to remove themselves from.
The basic use of speech as a form of communication with which to escape said relationship is often too complex, and so bedding other women becomes the natural, and therefore FAIR response to the situation. Charming, really.
Predictable and often repeated lesson number two of this week: women are wonderful. Over the past few days, my Facebook feed and overall social media radar has been flooded with reports of women marching to repeal the 8th Amendment in Ireland across the world.
Dublin, London and New York saw crowds of women rallying together to protest the archaic laws written into the Irish Constitution. The sense of solidarity is overwhelming, and the pride that I feel to be a part of the worldwide wonder that is “Irish women” makes me burst open with love, and hope.
I’ll be fashioning some form of empowerment nest tonight (Monday) to watch the presidential debate, screaming and hollering to the best of my ability, “I’m with her.”
And while I’ll also be glued to my laptop because work never ends, and a girl’s gotta hustle, I’ll be safe in the knowledge that women all over the world will benefit from this monumental shift in the world -- because she will win. And the 8th Amendment will be repealed. Because women are wonderful. Any reminder of that fact that comes my way on a weekly basis is so welcome. Keep ‘em comin’.
As the evenings grow darker and shrink shorter, and we get closer and closer to holidays, closer and closer to driving home for Christmas or in many cases, flying 3,000 miles, my mind is already partially embedded in the bliss that is Christmas Day. I don’t even care that it’s a million years too early to say the C Word.
My grinch days are over. Living away from home does that to you. Turns you into sentimental mush.
The lesson I learned this week, for the five hundred thousandth time in my little life, is that home is where the heart is, and family always has your back.
Read more: Now too late to say sorry?
My younger brother is handing in his master’s thesis this week after a mammoth five years of working full-time through his undergraduate degree, and master’s degree. He’s an alien, with a work ethic beyond any normal human being.
In a state of stress, and with our parents also abroad, it made me joyously happy the he could turn to me for help, even though I’m 3,000 miles away and effectively useless. Technology is a magical thing, and even touching base with family for a few moments in a time of crisis can make you realize that everything is okay. That in a matter of months, you’ll all be together with another year behind you.
Similarly, when I had a moment of realization that no, I cannot afford flights home, I knew that I could swallow my pride (which is a task harder than I can possibly articulate) and ask for help to get home for Christmas. Lord knows, if I left it so late that I couldn’t get back, my mother would kill me, burn the tree and sooner sacrifice a turkey than cook one. I missed a Christmas before, and won’t be doing that again any time soon.
Being an adult is hard. Moving past a breakup when you’re away from your family and 90 percent of your friends is indisputably hard. Working in the arts and trying to be a millionaire at the same time is beyond hard.
Turning to your family when things get hard? Easy.
And again, another of those life lessons that you think you’ve learned, you think is fully ingrained in you. And sure, it’s easy to forget -- but there’s nothing like sense of relief when you feel like you’ve just learned it all over again.