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Let’s Stop Pretending

September 15, 2010

Every so often I find myself at this beautiful point where motivation meets time.  During these rare windows of opportunity I chip away at the massive and frustrating task of piecing together “my book”.  I add quotes because I feel the fact that I am writing a book is so cliche I can’t keep a straight face even typing the words.  But I am writing a book.  Many.  And maybe one day I will actually have finished one.  That’s the hope that keeps the words flowing.

What follows is a quote from my April 2008 journal (while not religious, I tend to religiously adhere to my practices.  One of my practices or rules is that I write every day in a composition notebook.  Stream of consciously.  Every month I must fill one notebook.  On occasion I have filled two – but in letting myself start the second one I understand I must complete it by the last day of the month and if I cannot, I cannot start a new notebook).  What follows the quote is my 8 May 2010 reaction to that quote.  This may not be current writing, but it is current enough and I found it interesting so wanted to share.

*On a technical note, I would like to change the word precise to true, but I have yet to reach my understanding of the concept of truth, so will leave it as is.*

“I am scared for my life.  I don’t want to be Chris McCandless.  I am angry at him for hurting his family – yet I see parallels and I fear an untimely, stubborn and purely stupid death is eminent.  Like I keep saying – I do not want to die – but I do not want to live.  And I fear my urge to take off and try to live off the land.  I find the idea quite romantic.  But reality – the bare bones truth of the matter scares me.  But I have always been one to live the romanticized version – or at least act on romanticized impulses.”

– This entry is an example of how our cognitive process can have us believing that which, as shown through our behaviors, simply isn’t precise.  I absolutely romanticize a great deal, but do I live the romanticized version?

Recently I was sitting on a roof top bar in DC at happy hour.  A friend of mine was running late, so I found myself alone playing the role of observer.  The vast majority of those on the roof were late 20s/early 30s, dressed in typical DC ‘fashion’: grey suits or grey dresses.  Some in black.  Women in heels.  Men in ties.  I found myself questioning whether I was missing out.  At 26 shouldn’t I be apart of this?  Should I not have my business attire on, drink in hand, laughing with a circle of friends on this gorgeous evening?  I sat their longing for that life.

Stepping back, or rather stepping out, to read the situation I had to laugh.  There I was living a life nearly every one in that bar, in those stiff clothes that do not let air in, would desire.  At least for the summer.  And I was jealous of them!  I wasn’t actually jealous of them.  Nor did I actually want what they had.  Although this one woman did have fabulous red heels I could see myself donning.  I wanted the romanticized version the picture I witnessed allowed for.  The actuality of such a life called for a high pressure job that would have me indoors, chained to a desk, taking far too many hours from my life than I am willing to give.  The passion of the job would come not from an overwhelming sense of doing ‘good’, but from the material success signing over half my life – or more – would allow.  The couple hours on a roof top bar on a Friday evening in a city two and one half hours from the ocean was not a life I needed to be jealous of.

At the time I wrote that journal entry, I had just read Into the Wild. Before that I had read Dharma Bums and found myself quite intrigued by the concept of living off the land.  In retrospect it was the alternative lifestyle that I found so appealing.  At the time I thought I truly desired to take off and walk the earth seeking out my place.  Finding my own abandoned school bus in which to take up residency. My fascination was so great I actually feared pursuing such a life.  The fear came from knowing – soul knowledge not surface knowledge – that that was not my life.  My one conviction that has remained constant through out the course of my existence has been my desire to remain true to my life.  Pulling a McCandless would go against my soul’s journey.

My real intrigue with those books were the protagonist’s ability to live their own life.  It is a very difficult thing to live an authentic existence.  There is so much pressure from the moment a person enters this world.  So much brainwashing.  Realized or not we are all on a collective timeline.  If one does not reach a certain point by a certain age there is a sense of failing.  As aware as I am about this collective timeline and my desire to live my individual existence by my individual timeline, I still have moments of anxiety from time to time (more often than I like) that I am single, without a career, and without a house.  I compare myself with siblings, peers, and society at large.

We compare and measure ourselves by others because we view ourselves as the same.  Sometimes it is good to view ourselves as the same.  In terms of love and compassion, certainly.  But when it comes to our life path, this is not a good thing.  When it comes to our individual experience we must remember it is exactly that: individual.  An avocado and an orange both grow on trees, have rough protective shells, with soft insides, both are fruit, and both have seeds within.  Yet, an avocado is not an orange.

I have my own path and my own life brewing within me.  I have my own timeline.  My own direction.  And I realize my particular path is quite particular.  Some find great enjoyment in the timeline.  Averages are the result of the standard number of individuals to follow a certain pattern.  Therefore current timelines in life are when the typical individual will reach certain stages in life.  By no means am I implying one who follows the set timeline for 21st century America is not living the life inside of them.  I am simply expressing the deviation from the mean.

For there to be an average, there must exist that which falls below the average and that which falls above.  While aware no life is easy and each life has it’s own trials and tribulations, I do from time to time feel a certain jealousy toward those who fall along the average timeline.  Yet, I know I could never find true happiness living a life that is not mine.  And I can never find ease following a timeline not meant for me.  It saddens me greatly for those lacking the strength to live their own life.  Those who decide to follow the timeline due to the fear and uncertainty faced in following a different timeline.  Their own individual timeline. My heart breaks for their soul, for their fear and guilt is robbing them of authenticity.  But, we need not mourn for another’s decision.  We can only hope that they will find the strength and awareness to realize it is never too late to live the life brewing inside.

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