Six years ago, I wore that CD absolutely to the bone. I mean that literally. My red portable CD player could no longer read the worn grooves in the disk. I remember laying in my parents’ backyard, watching the night slowly come on and the magical agitation of the trees, black silhouettes against the graying sky of storms.
I’ve been in Korea for one month already. Holy Kimchi, how did I manage that?
There’s an inevitable push and pull to time’s unceasing flow, which at once makes life seem long and short. Travel sometimes accelerates the current to breakneck speeds at which a year passes in an instant, and sometimes slows the saunter toward the future to a pace normally reserved for Mythbusters’ explosion replays. I feel time less linearly these days, replaced with the jerking speed and brake of a taxi in traffic. A recipe for carsickness, if you ask me.
Fighting through the time-induced nausea, I strive to become wiser as I grow older, but lately I feel as though my brain is atrophying due in part to the necessarily basic nature of my lessons. Can’t talk Kirkegaard and Foucault with fifth graders. Especially in their second (third? fourth?) language.
It’s easy to slip into feeling somewhat stagnant, despite having moved across the world (again). Travel is everything I’ve ever wanted, but it can feel like postponement of “normal” life at times, a break, a dash in the opposite direction. I’m beginning to wonder what it is exactly that I’m seeking from my travel and from my life. What will I be in another six years? Where? How? Do I care, or should I just let circumstance draw me from one new home to the next and drift like a jellyfish in the Gulf Stream?
For a few days I’ve wallowed in the disorienting feeling that this is all there is. That I am not progressing. That I’m locked into a year in a job that doesn’t particularly challenge me mentally, even though it certainly challenges my vocal stamina and ability to define words without using even larger ones. I’ve been rabidly chasing strange and new experiences as a way of proving to myself that I’m not stagnant, holding up live octopus and visits to shamanistic shrines and saying inwardly, “See, Self? See? See?!”
I need to ask myself the big questions. I need to take account of what is truly important to me, what truly defines me, what I want in life, and how I will thrive. Then slowly take small steps in the direction of my dreams. Once I figure out exactly what those dreams are.
I took a tiny, symbolic step in the direction of having defined ideas about my life today: I started organizing my life with Google Calendar once again.
In college, I had every detail of my busy life planned out in it, with email and text reminders to boot. After graduation the busy life dwindled, then fell away completely when I went to the Land of the Flexible Calendar (Chile).
I could only find four things to put into my calendar. Four tiny points with which to anchor myself to my future. One was as simple as my next payday. It sounds ridiculous, but when I get lost in the often-dense fog of constant instability in my twenties, just having a date when something will probably happen a little over two weeks from now is edifying encouragement. Something to hold up to those more critical parts of myself and say, “See? Told you I have a future! It’s even in Google Calendar; it’s official.”
I will likely listen to the music blaring from my Spotify in six years, and wonder at the life I’ve created. Or wonder still where the hell I’m going. Or some great life-altering circumstance will pop into my life unannounced and change everything. The only attempts at undefined definitive answers lie in self-examination.
Am I wiser than I was at 18? Yes. And I’m still the same person I was then. The most important parts of my personality have only grown. The parts that no longer serve me have been pruned away, or burned off in the crucible.
I’m coming, little-by-little future. One day, we’ll meet before we even realize it.“When you feel just like a tourist in the city you were born in, it’s time to go…And define your destination, so many different places to call home…” -Death Cab for Cutie, Codes and Keys 2011