Sunday, June 27, 2004

A bit of introspection

I used to be a kid. I liked being a kid. But somewhere along the line, the real world found its way into my world, and adulthood has begun its seige on my youth. As I sit here, surrounded by my past, I feel secure, stable, and still; but just as I can sit on a plane and not feel it move - knowing all the while that the plane, like my life, is flying through space and time in search of its destination. I don't know where my plane is headed. Nor am I entirely sure who is flying it.

Behind me, is my sheltered, indestructible youth. In front of me, is the glass house of my future. The permanence of the past makes the future seem a frighteningly fragile object, but at the same time, that very fragility holds all of our excitement, hope, and expectation. Recently, I've tried not to think of the future. Its uncertainty in every area is unnerving, there is no constant, no totem of stability to lean upon. I know not where I'm going, what I will do, who will be with me as I do it, or even who will be there to watch as I struggle ahead. It's easy to try and stop. Right now, I'm doing just that. I realize that now, and while I don't admire myself for so desperately trying to slow the future's coming and inhabit my childhood for a few more moments, I think that now is a good time to stop. To pause. To reflect. And to compose.

I say Maya Angelou speak a while back. I wasn't blown away by the Hallmark-writing poet, but she had some worthwhile things to say. I've forgotten many of her words now, but I do remember that she concluded by encouraging, even commanding, her audience to compose. To compose their life, their future, their family and friends, their education, and their work. To compose themselves. So for now, I will try to compose.

I sit here composing a blog. Later, perhaps, I will compose a song, a beat, or perhaps just a collection of sounds. At night, I compose my own food. Alone, in the dark kitchen, I compose sustenance and in doing so, begin to compose myself. I've never had too much trouble composing myself - or should I say - recomposing myself. I sometimes lose control, lose focus, lose possessions, lose myself; but I like to think that I recover well. Fortunately, my friends and family are composers of the best kind and require no assistance from me, but there are certain things that are mine to compose, and wlll not compose themselves. I'm still playing through past educational compositions for the next year; the next year will begin a new chapter. As for work, I've managed to land a job that requires no hours and pays no money. As I said - trying to slow the world's spinning. The future is, of course, the hardest to compose. It wants to be so many different things in so many different places, but the path from here to there is insecure and indistinct.

When thinking about the future, I see myself trying to repeat my past. Age defines a body, defines a pattern, and sometimes, defines a path. My body is yet undefined and the pattern of my youth points toward a path that leads in all directions at once, and arrives at nowhere in particular. Here's the thing. I like learning new things. Good, fine. I like the incredible feeling of progress that comes when you first start at something. In mere hours, let alone days, newborn skills spring into youthful growth. Incredible. So incredible, in fact, that I am not even remotely interested in continuing to develop those same skills past a proficient stage. After that, it takes twice as much effort for half as much benefit, and being really good at something never really seemed all that much better than being pretty good at it. I learned to play saxophone, piano, clarinet and guitar, but I am not a saxophone, piano, clarinet or guitar player. All I want to do is play trumpet. So far, in 4 weeks this summer, I have started road biking, dabbled in computer building, started intense soccer juggling training, tried to play tennis but no one as bad as me wants to play as much as me, started to learn html, and decided that without a doubt, I need to get into electrical engineering and build my own headphone amp. All the while, what I really need to be doing is coming up with a thesis that will serve as the capstone to 4 years of studying English literature. What I am really into though, is physics. Perhaps acoustical physics. I'm going to MIT to study with Dr. Bose, that's my true calling.

Enough of this. The point here is that there's not an answer, there's only a process. The good news about that is, there's nothing to get wrong. The bad news is, it's kind of like this blog. You never quite know where it's going, nor when it will end. I began afraid of the future, preparing to defend myself from its onslaught, but I will end prepared chase it. If you aren't going somewhere, you're going nowhere, and although there are times in life to stay put, times to hold still, and times to just stop and think, there is no time to be complacent, no time to worry, and no time be scared. There's no destination to life. This plane never lands. And that, is absolutely beautiful. Things that happen are neither good, nor bad, but when things are happening, it's wonderful.

In the truly remarkable movie of his experience in the Peruvian Andes, Joe Simpson said that no matter what happened, he just tried to never stop making decisions. Keep making decisions. Up or down, forward or back, one foot, then the other. If, in life, we keep making decisions and keep moving forward - if not in a straight line - we will live a life, and that life, if we live it according to our feelings, our thoughts, our principles, and our instincts, will be a success. Then, we can blog about it, write a book about it, or make it into a movie. For now, I sit here, at 3:35 in the morning, still. I ruminate, and ponder. And compose. The future will come - a glass house, indeed. But one that hasn't been, and will never be, built.

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