Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Things that matter, things that don't

Approximate days until departure: 21
I would suggest that an ideal human life lies somewhere between my own defiant indolence and the rest of the world’s endless frenetic hustle. My role is just to be a bad influence, the kid standing outside the classroom window making faces at you at your desk, urging you to just this once make some excuse and get out of there, come outside and play. My own resolute idleness has mostly been a luxury rather than a virtue, but I did make a conscious decision, a long time ago, to choose time over money, since I’ve always understood that the best investment of my limited time on earth was to spend it with people I love. I suppose it’s possible I’ll lie on my deathbed regretting that I didn’t work harder and say everything I had to say, but I think what I’ll really wish is that I could have one more beer with Chris, another long talk with Megan, one last good hard laugh with Boyd. Life is too short to be busy.
Tim Kreider, The Busy Trap

In the past few weeks I sometimes feel I’ve been granted the temporary clarity one only supposedly gets towards the end of their life. My last day at work was almost a month ago now. Since then, I’ve done a spectrum of things and had a rollercoaster of emotions. I visited a friend from college in Seattle, made new friends there, spoke to old professors, came back, made fancy dinner for a girl, promptly got sick (I assume from the Seattle airport and not the dinner), went dancing, went bowling, applied for plastic money containers with no foreign transaction fees, bought things with my plastic money containers, slept too little, worried too much, moved to Minneapolis, and now here I am.

I wish I could say in this flurry of activity the clarity I’ve been granted was that I should go bike around the world, but it would be more accurate to say that I should spend time with the people I love. In the endless frenetic hustle of my past few days -- on the day I moved to Minneapolis I woke up at 7 and didn’t get to bed until 2 AM -- my realization was that loving and being loved matter more than any thing I bought or rented for this trip and any trip I could possibly go on.

I’ve spent a lot of time wondering, what if my password gets stolen? What if my pot isn’t big enough? What if my tent breaks? Those aren’t bad questions, but the answer to all of them is the same: it’ll work out. The closer the date draws, the more it becomes evident there are more important questions: What if the girl I love isn’t single when I get back? What if Casey never makes me tea again?

I thought for a few days that I had allowed myself too much downtime between quitting Epic and leaving Madison. My mind had too much time to wander; was I just bored? But now I find the days are catching up to me, even sweeping me along, as I hold with clueless aplomb the idea of nothing changing, of always having time for one more museum with Casey or one more bike ride with Adam. A friend told me, “Let’s hang out every day -- this is the last week!” and I didn’t hit me at the moment, but it opened the pores for the realization to permeate, the realization that life as I know it is about to go on hiatus. I’ve spent the past few days worrying about waterproofing my tent and if I can get this credit card without being employed; I should have spent the past few days worrying about what I’m going to cook for dinner for this girl I have a crush on. I should have been worrying about an impromptu dance party with that friend I promised a dance to, or when I can get another beer with Alex, another coffee with Brianna.

A month ago at work, one of my customers said to me: this isn’t goodbye. I will see most of these people again (assuming I don’t get hit by a truck). They will have changed, and I will have changed. But still, we will love each other. It is with a calm, inner peace that I packed up my things. I’d rather be spending my time at karaoke with Mandy or eating tapas with Dubby, but those times will come. This isn’t goodbye.

At the end of this life, there are few things that really matter: how deeply we loved, how compassionately we lived, and how gracefully we let go. I like to think I’m getting points for the first one by ignoring the third -- there are people in Madison I love deeply that I don’t think I will ever let go of. I know I am doing this trip for the right reasons: to love and be compassionate towards others. I just hope, desperately, that I am not passing on my only chance to be with the people I love. I hope they will be there when (if?) I get back. This was never an issue when applying to colleges or choosing a job; perhaps the sentience of adulthood and perspicuity of conscious choice is having its way with me. In the past month I’ve come to realize how wholly my heart has settled in Madison, having never felt at home in Minneapolis or Seattle. I find myself contemplating how rare that is, if it will be waiting for me when I get back, if I can find it somewhere else, or if maybe the adventure of a lifetime I’m about to embark on isn’t worth the risk of losing it.

Time will tell.


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  2. I understand how you can be asking yourself these questions, if it is right to leave the things you know behind to face a new obstacle. But if you didn't take this opportunity while you, you'd look back for the rest of your life and ask "What if?". Things may be different when you come back, but that isn't bad. It's an opportunity to experience something new and, hopefully, beautiful. We're all thinking of you here and I'm looking forward to the next time I can see you and hear all about your adventures. Be safe as you start your trip

    1. Thanks, Adam. Your support means more than you know.