(This was written stream of conscious and no editing has taken place. You have, for all intents and purposes, my true and unfiltered personal feelings – for probably the first time ever.)
I spend a great deal of time in thought on this side of the world. Perhaps it’s the influence of Confucius, Sun Tzu, or some other great Asian philosophical thinker. It could merely be my schedule or more realistically, my lack of social activities. In any event, as the autumn heads into full swing here, I find myself growing more reflective by the day – as I always seem to do this time of year.
The leaves change colors, football starts, kids go back to school (I really miss the first day of school), and the many winter season holiday loom in the distance. All of these things make me feel nostalgic and bittersweet about where I come from, where I’ve been, where I am now, and finally where I’m headed from here. I think about my age and what I’ve accomplished in my short time on Earth. I think about what I’ve not yet accomplished but hope to. I consider the failures of my past and dreams that’ll never be.
I remember my days at Ohio University… singing with Section Eight and The Singing Men of Ohio. I think about Dan and Craig singing at the Frontier Room in our Student Union (Baker Hall). I think about late nights out, half drunk and the next morning hangovers in front of the Buckeye games. I generally miss those times but I don’t dare return to Athens. I know better; it isn’t the same. The people you’re with shape the experiences of your life much more than the place itself. The Athens of the present is not the Athens of 2002, and it never will be.
I reminisce about visits to South Philly… cheesesteaks and Flyers games with Dad. I consider the few Thanksgiving dinners we had with a healthy Grandmom who always seemed to spend too much time in the kitchen, ensuring her family were all properly stuffed by the end of the day (tortellini soup, yellow cake with chocolate icing, and sometimes homemade meatballs). I can still close my eyes and put myself in the haunted prison on Spring Garden Street (Eastern State) in high school, helping the ghouls and ghosts in makeup to scare all of the gullible girls crazy enough to join us.
This year in particular, I find myself spending most of my time alone. Which is mostly fine but maybe a tad depressing on your birthday. It’s probably worse for Mom than it is for me. I’ve been wracking my brain to remember another year I spent alone but I can’t. My freshman year in college, my parents came to visit me. By sophomore year, I had a lot of friends. I transferred to OU in January so by the time October rolled around, I also had plenty of friends (and a girlfriend) to spend time with. Even the year I spent in Los Angeles I had friends to spend time with. So in all actuality this is the first year I’ve been alone.
My isolation is hardly cause for concern though. Birthdays are occasions for celebrating when you’re younger and as you grow older they become periods of reflection. While I do spend some time looking back, more of my time is spent looking forward. I’m eager to enjoy this chapter of my life but at the same time anxious to get to the next part, or at the very least, see what’s coming next. Those of you who know me very well know just how impatient I can be. It’s hard for me to enjoy each day without planning or considering the many possible futures that are before me. Thankfully, most of my life is still before me though I worry about its quality.
The following paragraph is an excerpt from a TIME magazine article published on the day of my birth, 33 years ago.
“Even by the standards of the 1970s, the decade of recurring recession, relentless inflation and repeated runs on the no longer almighty dollar, it was a wild week. For some time, Americans had seemed able to ignore or nimbly thrust out of mind repeated symptoms of their out-of-joint economy, like alarming new price rises and further drubbings of the greenback abroad. But last week those distant, or perhaps too familiar, woes hit home, and hard, in a burst of financial hysteria that engulfed markets, speculators and ordinary investors big and small from Wall Street to Main Street.”
This paragraph hauntingly rings true today. Simply omit ‘1970s’ and replace it with ‘2000s’ and you have the exact same paragraph. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to travel abroad, live abroad, experience new cultures, meet new people, and actually save money with each and every paycheck. But the more time I spend thinking about the state of the economy all over the world but most specifically in America, I don’t know what my future holds. I have no idea what the next step will be. I have no real career and don’t know what will ultimately make me happy professionally.
My greatest hope in life is that my novel ends up very well-written and well-received by the world once it’s published. Nothing would make me happier than to just be a writer for the rest of my life. I want to go to readings and signings and write sequels and more books, articles, screenplays… you name it! I’d also love to have time to enjoy the other aspects of life I’m passionate about like singing, piano, rock climbing, and maybe even jump back into aikido at some point. I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know what will end up happening with the book and I’m not sure when I’ll return to the States to find a career.
What I do know is that I’m going to do my best to enjoy the time I have here. I’m thankful for my life and the people in it. I’m thankful for the choices I’ve made and now that I’m in my 30s – I still hate saying that – I’ve learned more humility than I’ve previously had. I know I’m not perfect and what’s more, I know I never will be. I just have to work on being the best me that I can be and hope to bring positive changes in the world around me. In the end, that’s all any of us can really hope for.
Until Next Time…