The Long Term


I've been wrestling with the concept of time recently. No, not in the "here let me blow your mind with how time works" way. There are people who have written about that better than I ever could. I've been thinking of it in terms of taking on big projects and connecting those with a grander life vision.

It’s hard for me. Having a grand life vision and taking on long term commitments require a certain kind of a person. The kind who can settle into a life of relative normality and routine. Unfortunately, I am the certain kind of person who has always rebelled again routine and the normal. There is something that I find inherently evil in living the same life every day, over and over, until death. I find that it doesn’t capture the assertive beauty of life in the most complete way. And so, I have tried to live my life in a way that dances away from the routine and yet, to me, everything I do still reeks of routine.

I find that no matter what I do in my day to day life, the routine grows. I lean into habits which I have gained—good and bad. I tend to wake up at the same time, spend too much time looking at my phone, and go to the same cafe to work most days. Barring injury, I like to spend a least a few hours each morning exploring the front range. Living a half mile from the mountains provides me this opportunity more than many other places could. I love this part of my life. But at my core, I feel normalcy creeping in. I tend to go to the same places in the front range and have the american disposition that feels as though there is not enough time to do everything. I live with people who live quite traditional lives with responsibilities and careers and as much as I internally know that those kinds of constructs aren’t for me, I can’t help but look at them and perceive (possibly falsely) how comfortable and happy they are in their routine.

The issue stems from the fact that I am now having to decide exactly what my life is going to look like for the next 60 years. Back when I wasn’t concerned about looking after myself or the money that is associated with that I was fully committed to living what could be considered a “dirtbag” lifestyle. The reality of living more on the edge resonates a lot with a kid with no worries about the actual world and what that entails.

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And so, I am at a crossroads between two different places. If I go left, I can live what I would call a semi-normal life. I could get some sort of job. I could travel when I get the off time. I could make friends at work. Or I could go right: on that path there is everything and nothing. My dream of waking up under the stars and spending time with strangers who become acquaintances, friends, and then best friends in the course of a couple weeks. Climbing mountains which hold mystical excitement. Relying on my own power for livelihood. This clearly sounds like the better option for me. I don’t value security much, although I value it more than I care to admit. So living in this way wouldn’t be an issue. So what is it? What stops me from doing what I know is the best thing?

I wasn’t sure until I walked in on my roommate watching the movie Jim & Andy. The movie is sort of an analysis and inquisition of individuality and fame and purpose. The rest of the movie notwithstanding, there is one relatively heartbreaking scene where Jim Carrey is talking about his father. His father was apparently a great saxophonist, but when he moved to the United States from Canada, he was scared of supporting a family on that skill. Instead, he got a job as an accountant. A job which his father lost at age 51. Right there, Jim says something to the effect of, “I learned then that it was possible to fail at something you don’t care about. So if that is possible, why not fail at something you truly want to succeed at.” It is a simple idea that I have given thought to before, but was reaffirmed in an unexpected way, which is likely why it struck me so much.

The point of all this being, that I sure as hell don’t want to take the road to the left. And yet for a bit I have been questioning in my life which way to go: left with the general inertia of life or right which is full of active decisions and constant challenge and ultimately more (possible) joy?

The choice remains difficult because the road right is a dream, and dreams are easier to imagine than to achieve. They permit my escape into a world where everything is perfect and I have realized the exact life I always desired. But, if I start trying to live my dreams and life doesn’t work as planned or I completely fail, then I no longer have that dream. My bastion of peace is gone and left in its stead is a feeling of incompetence. In the moment, that is often the thought that leads me away from active choice and leads me toward the inertia of nothingness.

Of course, when I take a step back and take a bird’s eye view, I can see what else the dream will turn into. In time, if I do not attempt to accomplish my dream, then it will cease to be a dream. At some point, it will become a failure. And in the place of a bastion of peace, I will be left with the same feeling of incompetence and failure. When I realize this, the message is clear: try and attempt the dream, because trying and failing is much better than not trying and being left with regret.