Friday, July 31, 2015

Halfway Between Europe and Emily (or, “On Turning 30”)

When I was in my teens and early 20's, I would often say that “I knew for sure” that I wasn't going to die until I was at least 30. Somehow I just knew, I would say.

As of about five hours ago, it turns out that I was right.

I've done plenty of reckless things; this “for sure” was always my justification. Of course, now that I've actually reached 30, I see how silly the whole thing was. Surviving isn't always easy. It isn't always optional. Some people make it to 30. Many people don't.

I'm one of the lucky ones.

There was a day in my early 20's when I was having what felt like the worst day of my life. Everything was going wrong. It felt like a few of my closest friends were all betraying me simultaneously. I was being accused of a few things that were hurtful and untrue (nothing illegal or anything like that; just a few curious things that were enough to make me feel victimized and down on myself).

I was going to CNM at the time, and, that particular day, I had some business to take care of at their main campus. Some of those aforementioned things kept unraveling for me throughout the day until, at last, when it was time for me to leave the campus, I honestly hoped that I wouldn't survive the 30-minute car ride home.
I wasn't going to do anything dangerous myself—fundamentally, I've never considered suicide to be a viable “option”—but I remember very distinctly just hoping some other driver on the road would happen to be not paying enough attention, or driving selfishly, or just plain stupidly.
That drive home, of course, went by without incident. And, perhaps it's needless to say now, I'm happy that it did.
This day was about a month or two after my trip to Europe. You'd think that someone who just got back from—what should have been, but wasn't really—my “dream trip” wouldn't have had so much to complain about or be upset about. I went halfway around the world. What was there to be so unhappy about?
But, of course, that's not how life works, it's not how hurt works, and it's not how our hearts work.
Part of me wants to look back to that day now and think the whole thing was just plain silly. So what if some of my friends were being ridiculous? So what if people were being hurtful or selfish or un-understanding? It's how people are; this shouldn't be a surprise, and it shouldn't hurt us more than we can allow it.
We're so critical of our own pasts, though. It's easy to look back and think of how wrong or dumb we were at various moments or times in our lives. And sure, of course we do some wrong and some dumb things. But, when we judge our pasts like this, we belittle ourselves. We act like we should have known better, when the reality is that, at the time, we were trying to do the best we could with the pieces we had. We act ashamed of those moments, even though the fact is that they were all part of the grand narrative that brought us to where we are today.
We do not live in a vacuum. There is very little way to know how things will all turn out. We have to live momentarily, and I think it's unfair of us to look back on ourselves as if we knew then what we know now.
Who's to say on July 31, 2025, I won't be looking back on this moment, this time of my life—maybe even this very blog—and thinking how silly I was being today?
So please, let us not be so critical of our pasts. And let us not be so critical of people younger than us who are “just being silly” or who “just don't get it yet.” They have their own pieces they're sorting out, their own narratives that they're working through, and we have ours. “Let no one despise your youth,” and all that.
I said that this terrible, no good, very bad day I was describing was about a month or two after my trip to Europe.
It was also about a month or two before I met Emily.
It turns out that beauty is where you make it; it's not only in any other corner of the world besides the one you're in. And it turns out that life is always more worthwhile than our heart lets us believe sometimes.
When I was in my teens and early 20's, I would often say that “I knew for sure” that I wasn't going to die until I was at least 30. Somehow I just knew, I would say.
I was right, but this is coincidence.
I'm one of the lucky ones.
And you—whoever you are who has stumbled into this longer-than-I-intended-blog-post—please do everything you can to be one of the lucky ones, too.
It's worth it.

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