“Top of the Lake” and My Life

Recently I’ve become hooked on a new Netflix series called “Top of the Lake,” a crime drama set in rural New Zealand. If you want to watch this show, spoiler alert! Don’t read anymore. This blog post is mostly a character analysis and some conversations as they relate to my life, but you might not want to know all the details of the show yet.

The main character, Detective Robin Griffin (played by Elizabeth Moss), works with her own inner demons as she investigates the disappearance of a 12-year-old girl. In the midst of big life changes, Robin experiences her mother dying, a lack of commitment to her fiancé, and she has no real home. She’s at that in-between stage, the stage just before the jumping-off point, or maybe it is the jumping-off point. Maybe that is the jumping point, the slow-motion process of being in mid-air, just about to land in a different stage of life, of being more settled into something more stable. Right now she’s just flying, falling, groundless. She’s tough yet vulnerable, and I love her.

I just love Elizabeth Moss. I rooted for her character in “Mad Men,” in which she played a similar character who was taken advantage of by a total jackass, and she was so devastatingly vulnerable, yet she came out stronger and tougher. Not that I always liked her character or agreed with the decisions she made, and I don’t think that hardening oneself is the solution (it certainly hasn’t worked for me), but what I liked was that she became a successful career woman and did her own thing.

That’s one thing that Moss’s characters have that I don’t:  workaholism. I wish that being a workaholic was my problem. I’ve read that workaholism doesn’t satisfy a person’s need for peace, or whatever it is that they’re searching. Still, at least that person has that going for them. For me, I wouldn’t mind if I never had to work. Some people say they’d be bored if they didn’t have a job. Not me. I would be perfectly happy if I never had to work another day in my life. I would focus on my hobbies all day long… most of which, unfortunately, cost money. I wish there was a job out there that didn’t feel like work to me. As I watch “Top of the Lake,” I wonder what life would’ve been like as a detective. Sure seems fascinating on TV. Ah well.

On the other hand, there’s GJ, played by Holly Hunter. I loathed GJ (I thought she was an arrogant bully) and her entire colony (I judged them for being weak and foolish) up until the last episode or two, when she says to them, “Wake up!” I’m paraphrasing here, but she basically tells them there’s no answer, this is IT, deal with it. You are literally living in Paradise, and are you happy with it? No. There are still problems. As much as I would love to live in a utopian tiny house community in the woods with a bunch of soul seekers like myself, it turns out life still happens there. At one point she tells them meditating won’t pay the bills. Haha! So true! You still have to take action. She says you have to die to be reborn. Also true! My question is, how long do I have to go through this pain to be reborn? GJ tells a young mother, whose baby is crying in the background, to go and learn from her real teacher (her baby), and the mother doesn’t understand. GJ shushes her. “Listen,” she says. Pay attention, she says. But of course the mother doesn’t want that answer. They all want answers, and they all think GJ has them. She’s the Buddha-like figure who basically proves that she has the answer, which is that there is no answer. Or that the answer is right here, in front of your face, and you know the answer but you don’t want to accept it. I don’t want to accept it. How can that be the answer? That’s not the answer I want. I don’t want to do all the work. I want everything to be easy.

At one point GJ asks Robin, “Are you on your knees yet?” Meaning, have you finally surrendered? Have you finally experienced enough pain that you’re ready to change? Robin says yes, and GJ goes, “Good.” How true! I am on my knees, and have been for a long time, and I really, desperately want to climb out of this pit. I just don’t know how. Because, now what? And clearly I haven’t fully surrendered yet, or else I wouldn’t be writing this blog post.

As far as my relationship goes, the honeymoon period is over. I don’t know what happens next. I honestly have no idea. And that scares me.

As far as my career-hunting goes, I’ve started on a path, found out that it takes a lot of work and sacrifices I don’t want to make, and now I want out.

As far as my living situation goes, I moved into a shared house last March, with the knowledge that this was temporary, and in the hopes that I’d be moving in soon with my boyfriend. That’s not going to happen now, though it may still later, but it feels like I’ll be 60 years old and living like a college student for the rest of my days.

This is how I’ve lived my entire life. I start down some road, then decide I don’t like it, and I start over. I don’t know what this–whatever “this” may be–is going to look like, so I want out. And I get out, only to start over again and eventually find myself stuck in the same place. Two years ago I gave up everything: a good house, a good job, a good husband. But good wasn’t good enough! It was boring, unfulfilling. Day in and day out, the same thing. Dead inside. I’m not saying that I need to go try to go back there, not that I can now, but I know, intellectually, that the answer is within me. I can change all the things around me, and it doesn’t matter, because I’m still here. I am the one who needs to change.

So I’m trying to do that. It’s just an extremely slow process, and I question whether it’s working, or if I should try something new. I question whether I am relationship material. I question whether I am cut out for having any kind of career. What I want is to know in my heart and soul and in my bones is that this is the man of my dreams and this is the job of my dreams. And that just ain’t happening right now.

And I get it. My mom died, and that changed everything. It cast a new light on my life, and made me stop and question, yet again, is this really what I want to do with my life? What does this really mean? Why did she have to die now? I thought I was doing what I was supposed to be doing, and yet, this happened, causing me to question my actions, yet again. Am I really truly living the most meaningful, purposeful life I can live?

Regardless, I’m staying the course for now. I return to school in January and we’ll see how it goes. My boyfriend and I are staying together for now, and are committed, today, to trying to make it work. And he has felt like the man of my dreams before, but man. This is a lot of work.

Is there really a man of your dreams, or job of your dreams? No. I don’t think so. There’s no Santa Claus, kids! I figured that out a couple of years ago, and thought that although there’s no Santa, there is a God. But right now that just doesn’t comfort me, because I know I still have to do the work, and I don’t know what that means.

In the meantime I will continue to try to live a spiritual life—which, by the way, is taking on a new meaning for me. And I will continue to take the actions I’ve learned, and am learning, and maybe just pray for patience. I don’t know what else to do.

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