I cannot say that this week has been one for calm, enriching thoughts in one’s head — at least, not if you want to talk about subjects that are clear, well-defined, and have answers. A beginning, a middle, and an end, like an 80s sitcom where everything gets wrapped up by the end of the show in a neat, satiny bow complete with hugs and family moments.
That was not this week.
I am plagued. Assailed by my thoughts, whipped by my doubts, slapped by the unknown, and terrorized by the future as it looms over me, cackling in the way that it does. It enjoys the idea that I don’t know how to deal with it, I think.
Professionally, Myself is found adrift in the sea of uncertainty, floating from idea to thought, trying to nail down what I’m supposed to hold onto tightly and what I am to release. How can I determine a direction to go when there’s so many and I have no idea if they’ll pan out or be a big, giant flop? How do I know what effort to expend, what portion of my life to burn on my career, if every fire I’ve lit to date has done nothing but fizzle?
I’m a little rowboat, jostling amongst the multitudes of so many other, larger ships, gazing at them in awe and, at the same time, in curiosity — how did they get where they are, and why does the effort they expended seem so much less than my own? Whereupon I instantly feel that my flounderings are nothing more than a drowning man’s floggings and I am simply ineffective — and much more worthless than I think.
I grew up being encouraged in my development — strongly — by those who loved me. In many ways I appreciate it, but in so many, I regret it as well, for if I am all that everyone imagined, why do I feel like I am nowhere at all, and Sisyphus’ mountain rises high above me, and the rock is so large?
Stagnation is my nemesis, but he is a clever, tricky fellow. He’s almost impossible to see, difficult to detect, and a swarthy opponent to fight. Paired with him, in a tag team, is the Unconcentrator, the king of all things flighty and unreliable, impossible to pin down and equally hard to wring out anything of worth. They circle me, swords drawn, and I am armed only with this keyboard. I cannot fight them both; I cannot avoid their thrusts. Is the best strategy to go out as a martyr….or to lay down the sword and let what slices come?
And then I sit back and try to wedge this circle-shaped block into a triangular hole in the great Table of Life — for, in the end, I do not want to say that I have contributed nothing. That I have not somehow reached my old age, time has run out, and I have left no mark upon the world as a whole. I fear more than anything of reaching retirement — reaching the age of inability — and finding that the life I lived was nothing more than a fart in the wind, like so many lives that have lived over the past thousands of years. Ineffective. Unimportant. Non-influential. Unnoticeable. Forgettable.
That doesn’t mean I know what would fulfill that criteria. Of course I don’t — that’s just the shards on the tips of the cat-o-nine.
Many times I step back and look and go, “Bah! You’ve got years and years ahead of you to figure this out….honestly, why the bellyaching? You’re only 34, for Constantinople’s sake!” And then the dark tide flows in and the truth hits: You’re 34. You’re almost halfway done. And you’ve done…..what, exactly?
Moreover, I cannot guess the chess game that I am playing, and fear grips me as I consider the board before me, the huge myriad of factors that I must answer to, make decisions about, and try to reason with. I can only see one, maybe two moves ahead, but beyond that my vision fades, the lens is fogged, the ball grows dark as ink. How can I possibly anticipate the moves made today that will put me in check tomorrow, let alone 10 or 20 years from now? What if I sacrifice a piece and then sit there, weeping for lost rooks that can never be retrieved, when I hit 50?
I wish not to be a mere statistic — a mere blip on the radar, alive for 80 years, influential in the short term but, by the century’s flip, dead, forgotten, and good riddance. There are so many blips, like a sea of candles in a hurricane. Are we destined to ultimately be nothing?
Or am I only getting started?
Or am I already done?