If you are nothing,
Then you can be anything.
But if you are something,
Then you can be nothing else.
This — my guiding philosophy — is the principal reason why I don’t have tattoos. It also explains why I don’t express too many opinions, choose a girlfriend, plow forward on a career, make a stand, own property, define myself. If I abstain from committing to being something, then my possibilities are boundless. I could be anything I want to be.
The flipside of this is that I have spent the duration of my adult life being nothing. In my 20’s, I got drunk on the idea of a bright future, of something great just around the corner. I know it’s a lie now, but then? I’d get off work on Friday and just get excited about what the weekend might have had in store for me. Truth is, those weekends had nothing — but think of the possibilities!
I sometimes come to this crossroad, and at some point, I will have to walk in one of those cardinal directions. Standing on the corner is itself pregnant with possibility, but failure to decide a path is a lifelong stillbirth, the end of which is a long, long list of could-have-beens. I live with the fear of being one of those sad bastards who did nothing with his life, but fear is a bad motivation. I can only hope I’ll find my one true passion (and soon!) and then let it inform my life and all of its decisions.
Old friend, life is just life. I think my life’s been a rather crazy adventure once I got away from the nutjob family but I’ve never done anything truly significant. I’ve been happy though and done a few things I’m pretty proud of (my gorgeous daughter, helping build a groundbreaking language archive from the ground up), a lot of things that cause me embarrassment (oh god what was I thinking dating THAT guy), and a hell of a lot of things that are utterly sublime and wonderful (watching a sunset in Dubrovnik was really one of the best experiences of my entire life in ways I can’t even begin to describe). But I could have done more with my life, chosen a better guy to have a kid with, stuck with linguistics or math and done something with either, stayed in Berlin where I was happier overall than anywhere else I’ve lived. But I didn’t. My life isn’t so bad. We all have regrets. We all have all the possibilities of what could-have-been and the reality of what wasn’t. I think you’ve done a good job at your life. You’re a decent person, a good friend, and your sense of humor never fails to make me laugh. Even if you never find that passion, I think you’ve lived a great life – I won’t reveal details of conversations we’ve had, but I know where you come from and the journey you’ve taken. Hell, that alone is enough for one’s lifetime worth of experiences.
Shucks, J, you flatter me. I try, I do. But by and large my dreams seldom get bigger than the week. I’ve thought about foreign travel, seeing things, doing stuff, but that’s pipe dreams when I’m out tilling the fields. The big stuff gets put off until the panic of missing out on life sets in, then I completely drop it and shrug my shoulders. “It’s too big right now. Maybe I’ll do that some other day when I have the money.”
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