Displaying a flagrant concern for the direction of my life
In a few months’ time it will be precisely one year from my date of graduation. I have not achieved a single thing that has really brought me closer to actually advancing towards my goals in life. I originally started the year off with the intent of pulling myself out of debt, only to realize that this really translated into subsisting while making slight dents in my debt from a number of angles.
Instead of being immediately disappointed of myself, I like to inventory a list of things that I am proud of–things that I could immediately rattle off in not particular order at a cocktail party in hopes of impressing someone more accomplished than myself…
- lived in France for a month
- landed a rather interesting position as a paralegal
- moved into a home and did stuff–painted, laid tile, et cetera
That list seems entirely unsatisfactory and ridiculously short for all of the free time I’ve had. It seems that, in retrospect, I should have been able to pull myself out of debt more than I have. The flagrant disregard to my expenses while in Europe was probably foolish, but it is the kind of foolishness that one smiles back upon in their death bed and does not regret, but revels in. The flagrant disregard for my time in the past 8 months or so since returning, though…that’s what I regret.
And I find myself constantly aware that I could be slipping into a niche of mediocrity. That one that I feared so much when I was young and invincible and that, as I slowly grow older, realize is quite comfortable and easy to deal with. If you don’t think about it, you can even stop the dissatisfaction from setting in, probably avoiding it until you’re old and gray and trying to impart the wisdom of the ages on some poor oblivious youth. It is comfortable here, unchallenged, disengaged, and somewhat fuzzy.
But I miss being passionate about things. I miss finding myself caught up in things that make me want to stay awake past my bedtime. Mediocrity has its costs and they become apparent: life is less vivid, things are less substantial, and excitement is much, much harder to come by. So I try to keep this all in mind as I wake up each day. Nevermind that moments are precious–the moments are mine, dammit.
Finding myself in this funk, I could look to a self-help section of some bookstore, or a life coach, or some unbearable Chicken Soup for the Y’s Soul. But, once again, I find that philosophy comes to my aid in a much more direct way, without the motivational nonsense and touchy-feely garbage. “How could I forget him?” I think to myself; anyone looking for an existential wakeup call should look no further than Nietzsche. He is at once depressing and refreshing and blunt in his bludgeoning of your soul back into awareness. There is one passage in particular that I look to when I find myself in these kinds of situations, excerpted from The Gay Science:
What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more’ … Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: ‘You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine’?
August 27, 2007