I suppose it didn’t hurt to try.
I took the GRE this past weekend, and much like the results to all my previous practice tests, this one fared no differently.
By no means was it terrible, it just wouldn’t do me much good either.
And so, I find myself back at the same crossroads from where I had began – that is, asking what, then, will my next step will be.
While the question I pose to myself finds no answer, I have found something more than a mere silver living.
There were numerous occasions throughout this entire preparation for this test that felt rather hopeless, as if I were simply cramming in too much information in too short a time. (And as my test results would show, I may have in fact pulled out all the stops far too late.) I’d spend hour after hour re-working problems that look so familiar and yet I wouldn’t even know where to begin. It was, discouraging, to say the least.
But every time I’d come to my wife complaining about all the little mistakes I made, she’d tell me, without fail, that she loved me. And that was all. Maybe a kiss on the cheek, if she were awake enough to do so.
Initially, I found myself feeling slightly peeved, as if she were refusing to indulge my complaints, or dismissing them outright as though they were unimportant (which in fact, may be true). And still, I’m not sure what sort of response it was that I wanted, exactly, and even now I’m not entirely sure I know what I need, now that it’s all said and done.
And yet, perhaps, the “I love you” she offers is more than enough. Perhaps there’s something much more profound about that response that I’m only beginning to realize now.
I didn’t need to take this test. Well, I do, should I want to get into school. But I didn’t need to apply for school. I didn’t need to try shaking up my life again, as though it were not shaken enough, for the better.
Marriage, in itself, is the milestone of my life thus far – the purest, biggest blessing I can think of. And it is the one gift I keep that always returns itself ten, twenty-fold (To even put a number to it, does it a disservice).
Her “I love you”, in this particular context, is serving a different of purpose. That’s part of the profundity of it, of how many meanings it could give, captured in three words, said over and over again.
Here, in my life right now, in these moments of frustration, of discouragement – it means this:
It means it doesn’t matter that I am not great.
It has no bearing on being loved, and that’s the gift. The freedom to be far less than perfect, let alone good, because of love. Because it is the cosmic safety net to all of life’s disappointments. It catches us when we need it, even when we forget that it’s there.
For this, for her words to me, every night when I crawl into bed, fighting off feelings of defeat – now more than ever, I am finding my permission to fail.