This upcoming Monday brings another birthday for yours truly, and another potential trip around the sun. Some years ago on the eve of my 18th birthday, I wrote the following rather bleak piece on where I was in life. Last year I wrote a reply to that young punk from “Future Me” to offer a current perspective:
The Great Confusion
In just one more day, this tired mind and battered spirit will be a confused 18 years of age. Yes, I am a confused mass of existence at such a tender age. I prefer to call life ‘existence’ because, quite frankly, I can’t think of a better word. Time has lapsed from boyhood wonderment through the worry-filled period of adolescence, into the beginning of the end.
I am frightened by death (particularly my own) when it attacks like an intruder in the night. Especially frightening is the clock on the wall, ticking and ticking, forward to death. Should I really be concerned with how I spend the remainder of my life, or should I just whittle it away?
Much of the past four years was shot to hell (by me) because I thought I could hide behind a wall of strength and courage. I did accomplish many things that I am proud of, but it wasn’t me. I was too busy being someone else. Now I am back again, playing the part someone created for me. But who am I then, really? More importantly, who are you? Answer dammit! (Whoever heard of a freaking identity crisis at 18?)
I don’t enjoy the same things at 18 that I did at 15. But it was the same way at 15 in relation to age 12. So what’s new? I’d just like some of the good times back and to keep what I have right now.
I’ve written this out of fright so far. Could you tell? I mean, who knows where I might be next year or in ten. I can accept that life will throw me a curveball every now and then as a test. But why does everything have to be so darn confusing? And why do I keep asking such stupid and redundant questions?
The answers are out there somewhere. I’ll just keep searching. To be continued…
Dear Past Me,
I actually remember writing this short essay. It seems a bit overdramatic in some places, yet truthful with a bit of confusion thrown in for good measure. This was an attempt to dash off a few quick thoughts and wasn’t meant to be anything deep. I recall planning to write a follow-up each year on my birthday, hence the ‘to be continued’ line at the end. That plan never materialized. Might be a good thing, yet it would have been interesting to document a yearly viewpoint on my life and questions/struggles/triumphs.
Things get better, kid. Then things get worse. Sometimes better and worse happen oddly at the same time. You will struggle, then rise like the phoenix, and fall again. At times you’ll want to quit and go off to hide. Other times you’ll charge like a bull and go after the brass ring. Occasionally you’ll feel like the goose that laid the golden egg – everyone wants something from you. When you want to balance everything out, against all odds you’ll find the comfort of a lawn chair and good book. The sun on your face will set you right – but don’t sit too long because sunburns are painful and potentially dangerous!
You will find love, and love will find you – often when you least expect it. Friendships will come and go, but later you’ll recognize that many of these people were perfect for a specific time period. You’ll be sad when these friendships drift apart, but will understand their importance.
I’m going to let you off the hook on the big questions you’re seeking answers to. There isn’t a magic day where a light bulb turns on and you have an epiphany. Suddenly you have all the answers! Sadly life doesn’t work that way. You will have moments of clarity, however, and these moments will make you feel closer to the answers you seek. Be careful – at times it can be very easy to twist answers to fit the questions. Your perception and background both play a huge role in how you come to a conclusion.
There will be plenty of opportunities along the journey to stop and smell the roses. Take advantage of those opportunities and make the most of them. Life, dear boy, is about the journey, not the destination. If you keep that thought in your mind, love in your heart, humor on your lips, and fire in your belly, you will have an enjoyable life – not just an ‘existence’ as you put it.