During my most recent trip home, I asked my dearest cousin whether or not it seemed from afar as if I had my shit together. Her kids were all over the place, though, so I couldn't actually say "shit" - rather, some close approximation sufficed. Her candid response: "It doesn't seem like you don't have your shit together, it just seems like you're doing something completely different every other week."
A fair enough answer to quite the loaded question. I admit I designed my wording such that, no matter the response, I'd have an excuse to be a tiny bit dissatisfied. Too much shit together and I'm an old man! Too little and I'm a reckless mess! Is there no happy medium? No place to be at nearly 23.5 years old that would have me satisfied on all fronts? Is this what one's early-to-mid twenties are supposed to feel like?
The reason I'm dwelling, here, is because I totally enjoy reserving the right to completely reinvent myself whenever I see fit. It's the reason tattoos freak me out, jobs lasting longer than four months distress me to my core, and retirement center visits - themselves pockets of reality where time sits frozen, impermeable - are avoided at all costs. There's so much I think I might enjoy doing in this, my sole allotted lifetime, that picking a single option and sticking with it at a mere 23.5 years old seems a task that would surely align me with a future of resentment, disillusionment, fatigue. And there's nothing worse than fatigue.
I'm the kid who actually clicks on those CNN links to Oprah's advice column whenever the featured topic even appears to broach the subject of careers, career happiness, or career unhappiness. Not but two nights ago I devoured the tale of one conspicuously named Jennifer who, at nearly 40 years of age, abandoned her lucrative career as an ad agency bigwig and took up performing as an aerial acrobatic in Seattle. For serious. What's worse, this shit is supposed to offer a ray of hope to the tens of millions of middle-aged US employees who totally hate their lives. Feel like giving up?! Join the circus! If goddamned OPRAH WINFREY is condoning running away to the circus as an alternative to midlife misery, then I don't want within a 29-and-a-1/2 foot pole's distance of that kind of future, which means I've absolutely got to try everything on for size before I stick with any seemingly appropriate lifestyle of choice.
My dad almost died a month back, And I spent much of my time in the ICU waiting room selfishly thinking about my own life, my own happiness, what the entire situation meant for me. His NDE (near-death experience) really put a lot of my own shit into perspective - namely, that life is far too short to spend any significant amount of it doing anything I even remotely dislike. If that sounds selfish or entitled, it's probably because you've compromised your own happiness significantly. But here I am beginning to argue with an invisible audience.
Lastly, I want to focus on what my dearest Aunt told me during my most recent trip home, which I promise relates. "AJ," she said, "live entirely for yourself right now. Because as soon as you meet the person you're going to spend the rest of your life with, every single plan you've made for your future is going to fly right out the window. None of it's going to matter. You'll be on an entirely new track that you never once anticipated coming, and it will happen, eventually."