“Booker, are you afraid of God?”
“No. . . but I’m afraid of you.”
I used to create alternate lives when I was younger; a part of me once in a while does it even to this day. One where I’m a firefighter going into burning buildings, or another saving lives at a hospital. Maybe I’m a scuba instructor out in Australia, or retired living on the coast of Barcelona. I want to do it all. I never expected to be here, but then again no one expects their lives to go a certain way. Those two words, constants and variables, have been on my mind of late. As 2019 is well underway and I am now 27, I find myself reflecting on others from my past and where they are at at this point in life. I have not run into many physically, but the ones I have seem okay while several others I may see on Facebook when I make my rare (aka very bored at work) visit to pass the time are going through their own ordeals.
It hit me that I’m approaching that stage of life where now a majority of the ones my age are entering some common moments in life. Some have gotten married, others going through divorces, while plenty are having kids! Some of the guys are losing hair to certain extents, others putting on a few pounds, and most having stable jobs. As I take a step back and look at it all, I can’t help but notice all the different variables that each of them have gone through. It’s not like how it was ten years ago, or even five. And that’s not just those around my age, but even my older friends as well. From moving for a new job, to taking trips, to getting accepted to a new program, and whatever else it seems as though others’ lives go through different variables. That includes the friends afar as even if we go several days or weeks not talking, when we do they have many tales to catch me up on. Sure there are a few constants, but it feels as if they have more variables than I have. For me, it’s been the same. Same job, same city, same friends, same status. And though I’m not envious of it, it makes me curious as to when variables will occur in my life. When will constants change?
If my life story had a title, it would probably be “Late to the Party” because that’s so true yet so ironic. It’s ironic because ever since I was a child, I spent most of my time with adults instead of kids my age. So naturally, I became more accustomed to them and engaging in some sort of conversation with them. That led on to early college days, as I somehow always ended up being paired up with the older students. A few expressed frustration because I wasn’t legally old enough to drink with them. It carried on even to graduate school, where a majority of students were over 29 years of age; going as far as someone to their 60’s. It never mattered how old one is, for I don’t look at that; rather I look at experiences and personalities. In this regard I was early to the “Older Adult Social”. However, the title to my book holds true in that although spiritually I may have been early, the reality was I took a little longer to grow.
I didn’t get my own cell phone until I was 18, senior year of high school, but everyone already had the early iphones. I was given a flip phone; old school at it’s finest, which naturally brought the jokes upon me. I was shy back then, and to this day I can’t pinpoint how it went away. I was never into the club/party scene, nor was a some super rebellious person. To this day, I still don’t see the appeal of getting drunk. It’s like why would I want to pour money into drinks that will black me out then wake me up with a huge headache. I already hate the random ones I get, so I don’t want anymore than that. I’d rather use that money to buy books, or save it for delicious food on my travels. When I do drink, though, I much prefer scotch (straight and on the rocks), and I’ve always preferred that over beer since I was younger. What college kid prefers that?! When it comes to being “old”, per se, I wasn’t late however when it came to being “my youthful age” then indeed I was late to my own party. But time changes everything, and I know I’m not alone out there who grew up in similar situations.
And with time, at some point, we start to look back and ahead at us. We look back on who we were, whether we were this timid or popular person. Where did life take us? Have we explored our 30th country by the time we were 21 years old, or are we going to our first ever trip abroad at 35? Did we become that astronaut we dreamed of as a teen, or did we resort to selling insurance? Is our family as big and close as a stereotypical Greek family, or did time fracture an already broken home? Most importantly, despite all the things that has happened around us as we grew older, did we still hold onto that bright-eyed hope we had for us or did time affect it as well. Too often do we see someone in their 30’s and above with that look in their eye when you ask about their goals and dreams. That look as if a part of their soul was lost with it, or that in another life if we asked them that question they’d say what they wish they could say in this life.
We either sit on our hands and watch life’s opportunities pass us by, or we make an effort and try; not knowing what the outcomes will be. Next year will be my first high school reunion. Ten years flew by so fast. I’m not sure I will go, since the friends I had then are still present in my lives; except a few who went their own way. If I do go, it’ll honestly probably be just to see how my life stacked up these last ten years compared to them. Even though I could care less about if one became super successful or not, or if someone still hasn’t grown up from high school, I’m like everyone else. I see someone else, what they went through, and relate it to my own life. In high school, I’d see other groups of friends take spring break trips or summer vacations to the coast. And I would think “Why don’t my family take trips like that? I wish my friends and I would do something like that.”. Ten years later, and I still ask myself questions. All basically lead back to the one at the heart of it. Am I where I wanted to be at this point in my life?
It’s not for a lack of trying though, as I’m sure to those who’ve been around my blog from the start can tell that I have the drive. I’ve applied numerous times to jobs, and had good feelings turn into another rejection. Trips planned, and some have happened, but most put on the back-burner to wait once again. Getting together with friends, and outings cancelled or changed to a lesser degree. Family trying to get closer, but time pulling us apart. I guess a good example would be my quest to get my passport. Those who remember that will know the weeks of struggle it took to obtain it, as if something out there tried it’s best to stop me. I even sat in my car laughing sadly, wondering, why can’t something go my way for once. Everyone else’s lives seemed to be smoother than mine. I know it’s not true at all, but I was just curious why the constants in my life are that way and why the variables sucked. But then I realized the constants in my life have changed.
What I do now at 27, I wasn’t doing at 23. Back then I was almost 100 lbs. heavier than what I am now. Most of my life I was chunky, but now I’m much thinner and still on the quest to be quite fit. Two years ago, I didn’t have a Master’s degree and now I do. Even though I dabbled, and walked away, from pursuing med school I at least tried; which I only wished my friend would do because he’s so close to it but doesn’t do it. Don’t you hate seeing potential in others wasted, especially when it’s loved ones? Why can it be hard for us to see that same potential in our own mirrors? We often can get lost in the trees in front of us to know what lies beyond. How perhaps maybe our goal is so close, yet we’re worried about not hitting a few roots along the way. Or maybe sometimes our goals blind us themselves.
When I meet new people, or just checking on old friends, I tend to bring up “future-talk”. You know, asking questions like “Where do you hope to be in 5 years?” or bucket-list questions. It’s often met with eye-rolls as if they’re in another interview, and I get it. Hell, when I was in university, I changed my major maybe 5 times because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. But I’ve talked about that before, and y’all know the reason why. Yet I ask because it gives a good sense of whether someone’s on track, if they are motivated to even do it, and if they aren’t then seeing what’s stopping them from doing it now. Many say they’re just taking life day-by-day, and that’s great! I try to promote living each day with purpose. But there’s that difference between living and Living that I have mentioned before. If living for today means waking up, going to work/school, coming home, doing nothing, maybe see a friend – is that Living? Maybe, but if you told me it’s leading towards something like a trip or graduation or a promotion well then you’re talking “future-talk”. AH-HA, I got you! Now I’m not perfect either, as I have my mundane days as well, but there’s a goal. There’s a purpose, because we should all have goals in life to strive for. We all need something to believe in. Otherwise, we’re just living day by day roaming until we pass on.
Some people hate looking to the future. Maybe they don’t want to see themselves old, or maybe they don’t want the pressure put on themselves of accomplishing things at a certain time. Life goes as quickly or slowly as you make of it, but Life goes forward regardless if you do or not. I poke at those who are stubborn to look ahead, because the truth is I should’ve died years ago. At some point in our lives, we might experience a “near-death” experience. For me, it’s happened quite a bit from my heart-rate dropping very low upon birth, to drowning at a lake, to several car crashes/near crashes, to other instances. Others go through different experiences: fighting cancer, shootings, suicide, etc.. Many die way too early in life; some not even making it past a year on this planet. Those who fight, and those who passed, will tell you: Make the most of life and do what you were afraid to do. You never know when your time is up. That’s why I ask those questions that people hate being asked; not to see if you have set plans, but to see if you’re making the most of your time and getting closer to your goals each day. In a way, I’m really asking you: Are you getting to where you want to be if you’re not there already?
Perhaps you can feel how much I hate this feeling of sitting on my hands at this moment of my life then. And I’ve said this before, how I wish I could take a bag and just backpack across the world. But this thing called money can be a real pain, yet if it weren’t for that then we wouldn’t be as productive would we? We would all just be roaming day-to-day with no sights on the future. It’s okay to be a visionary, and have ideas of what you want to do. But visionaries who are builders are the ones who get it created and enjoy it in the end. We all have different ideas, different dreams, that we want to reach for in our lives. For some, it can be just get a stable job and have a family. Others may want to create their own business, and own 15 animals. Meanwhile others want to be ruler over certain domains like fashion or law, or be popular so that the world knows who they are. I could honestly care less about being the last type of people, because no matter how many streets/schools/buildings/statues are built after someone. . . it is just a name. People try to make epic, grand speeches that may get talked about that night and the next day, but everyone forgets and moves on the following week. What’s the point in trying to make history, if we just end up ignoring or changing history anyway? Not saying we shouldn’t make a difference, but if the goal is to be recognized for such differences it won’t end well. For me it’s simple: do something that helps people everyday and see the world as much as I can.
No fancy cars or big mansions. No custom-tailored suit and shoe collection or the latest iPhones. No 100k+ Instagram followers or Youtube viral hits. For me, the perfect scenario is a little house (perhaps by the ocean), with a dog and a Jeep (I’ve always wanted to drive one), driving and flying off on another adventure. One day I’ll get there, the dog and jeep will probably come first, but I know many of you will get there too. It just takes courage, hope and sacrifice. Lately though I must admit, soulfully, I’ve taken a beating because there have been days where I feel like no change is coming. No matter how hard I try, life is like “Not yet” while I’m saying “Yes now”. I do my best right now to make the most of things, and doing some hobbies. But I know I can do more, yet I use things like needing a new job and more money as an excuse for not doing some other things I’ve wanted to do. I want to road trip out to the mountains, go skydiving and bungee jumping, camping and all other things. But I don’t cause I know for many of those things I would end up doing alone. My friends, though they enjoy going out, are not exactly outdoorsy or if we make a plan there’s a high chance it will fall apart before it happens. I could go alone, but forgive me when I say I’d rather not. I’ve been alone often, and do things on my own. Though I don’t mind it, it would be nice for once to have a partner/s in crime to go with me. My own family so-to-speak, which I think I talked about in a post not long ago about finding your group. I love running into people who just love to Live and want to explore, but I also love finding those who I can see want to explore but still stay in their bubble. I love to pop that bubble.
In a nice way of course, but I like taking them to things like concerts or a cultural festival that they’ve never been to. I’ve taken my best friend to rave when he was mainly a metalhead. I’ve taken a friend to a concert at a historic venue that she has never been to. I’ve even take a date once to play mini-golf, even though she lived here for a few years she’s never been to one and we went to one of the oldest ones in the country. That and more examples, I like seeing their smiles as they experience something new. See them step out of what they know and into a new world. I like seeing that, because I enjoy the feeling myself too. I like finding it on my own or someone showing me, and then sharing that with others. Finding similar souls who cherish such moments and opportunities. Seeking others who swim in different oceans, but we land on the same shores. No matter what part of the world we come from, what language we speak, or what time we are from, when we find someone we vibe with it could lead to amazing adventures. It’s those people who show that not only can we have a goal (the shore), but also that it’s okay to go slow and enjoy the swim itself. Although I wish constants in my life would change, like job and travel, I try to cherish the moments I’m in right now. The little variables that I have worked on.
Eventually my constants will change, just like yours will or is happening right now. One day, I’ll get that good job and travel to many countries. One day, I’ll attend World Cups and climb mountains. One day, I’ll be there to congratulate my friend’s on becoming parents. Maybe one day, I’ll even be lucky to find someone myself. There is so much to do and see in this world, and we are never too old to do some of those things. But what I try to show people, as well as myself, is that we shouldn’t wait till we’re actually old to start Living because we never know when our time is up. We shouldn’t have to look back or forward with a look of regret, or create memories and lives we wish we could be in. So jump into your ocean, swim with all your might, find your family, and soon you’ll reach that shore. In the end, the only thing that is constant is change. I keep thinking that while everyone around me is going through changes, I’m here stuck in stagnancy. Maybe I was wrong, and all along change has been going on in my life and I just never realized it. Maybe I was distracted by certain changes I wanted to see, that other constant changes have been going on around me. All we can do is just keep swimming, and eventually we’ll get there. What’s meant to be, will be – It’s not a matter of ‘what’, but ‘when’.
Constants and variables. . .