For all my talk about freeing oneself from guilt (the requisite affliction that reappears with each passing Lent), I have succumbed to a similar mental plague as of late. Perhaps it is not coincidental that these sentiments arose around my lusting for a certain Catholic island that shall not be named. Nevertheless, I am trying my best to remind myself that I have done nothing wrong here by wanting to seize the day.
A friend, and sometimes blog reader, sent me this link to a podcast. Upon receiving it, I shuddered at the title and description– “Back to Work” in response to a listener in the midst of a quarter-life crisis. Oh god, I asked with trepidation, is this going to catapult me right back into the abyss of an existential crisis? He assured me it would do quite the opposite. Now, I am fairly decent at the internets– at the very least, I can Google like a pro. There are, however, a few things that I have yet to embrace. Blogs used to be one unfamiliar realm, though I am slowly conquering this blogging thing (with moderate success?) whereas things like podcasts definitely remain uncharted waters. But I had no reason not to keep it on in the background while I did pointless things on the internets, so press play I did. Addressing Quarter-Life Crisis Richard, these middle-aged dudes seemed to quell the exact fears bubbling out from my being at that very moment. They seemed to be suggesting that I’m not an awful person for going after the opportunities that present themselves to me while I am not committed to things like mortgages, a grueling 9 to 5, a significant other, a kid (a dog!), a tenure track position, etc., etc., etc. That I should not feel bad doing things for myself! That I should commit to doing something for myself every day, like writing!
Quotes that I liked:
Nobody’s every going to be happy with how far along you are at being the person they wish you were. . . true, and good, but as much as it would be nice to say that it 100% does not matter what others think, individuals do not exist in a vacuum… to some extent gaining approval, or at the very least not being the subject of disappointment, is important in relation to those that are most important in our lives. I wish I was impervious to this, but, alas, I am only human.
The only way I have time to do nice things is if I don’t do everything. I used to try so hard to do everything. But it really is so much easier to enjoy things when you are not in a rush and you are truly doing the things that make you happy. And sometimes, it isn’t simply a matter of choosing the thing that will make you happier because you are presented with two (or more!) deeply satisfying options. If you have to choose, you might lament not being able to do both, but if you try to be accommodating, you run the risk of not having enough time to energy to devote enough attention to either. I think of this often whenever I am traveling somewhere close for a short amount of time (i.e. New York, Philly, DC) where I have a number of dear friends that I would like very much to see. I could run around the entire time, like a chicken with my head cut off, shuffling between city blocks, on and off public transportation, drink after dinner after coffee after lunch date, trying to give everyone due diligence, for I do truly want to spend time with all of those near and dear to my heart, but it is not fair. It is not fair to me, exhausted from this hypothetical jaunt up and down the isle of Manhattan or on and off the DC Metro, and it is not fair to those that deserve my fullest attention and appreciation. In the past, I might have tried to pencil everything in, squeeze as much exhausted time out of my days as possible, but I realize now the importance and the luxury of being able to savor every enjoyable moment without the pressure of trying to do everything at once simply because I can.
It brings me back to the notion I once clung to of being able to exist solely in one moment without fleeing (mentally or otherwise) to the future or the past. It was an awareness cultivated during my time in Nepal, and despite my best efforts, the remains are slowly slipping through my fingertips. I realize that I might not be able to get back there from here– to exist in my society requires a certain amount of consideration for the future– but while I should not lose touch with reality, maybe I should cut myself some slack. For (here is my inner-nerd coming out) as Gandalf says, All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us, and, at 24, I can already say that I’ve had a pretty good go at things.