Reflections of Past Reflections

My life is at a cross-roads right now. Sudden changes and continuing stress; there have been so many reasons for me doubt myself these past few months, but somehow I don't. I am more confident than ever.

But confidence doesn't mean I stop trying to improve myself. A big part of that self-improvement is a lot of self-reflection. Deep introspective self-reflection.

These things haven't changed. As I look back on my past writings, I see similar thoughts, questions, and even the self-doubt tempered with confidence that I see today. Back then my road was no less complicated but seemingly a lot more simple. Doesn't the past always seem like it was easier than the present? The good-old days. Yet, there is no going back and if you really think about it, today is as easy as it will ever be again.

This entry was originally written July 1, 2007.


Eight Miles a Minute for Months at a Time....

Seems like yesterday… but it was long ago…

Sitting on my flight home, I consider what a friend just told me today.

“You’re a mystery.”

I have trouble with that observation, only because I consider myself so simple.

As I sip my drink I consider this: Do others really view me as mysterious? I wonder. I guess without asking directly I won’t know. But my introspective, I don’t look at getting to know me as the metaphorical equivalent of “peeling an onion.” More like, peeling an orange. You can get past the surface pretty quickly with little effort and without destroying what is inside.

That is, if one cares to.

But it’s not going to peel itself – it does require a little effort.

Lately I’ve been regressing. I’ve been finding myself reflecting on life. The things I’ve done and people I’ve known. My experiences and upbringing. My successes and failures, and there have been many of both… but I feel, more of the former.

My failures don’t bother me. Success and failure are intrinsically related – not as diametric opposites as one might casually observe. To find success in life, to find happiness, one must take risks. And with every risk taken there is a better than average chance that risk will ultimately lead to failure. In that regard, success and failure can be one in the same. But those that risk nothing, do they ever find success and happiness at all? Do they even have a chance to? Can success be defined without first knowing the pain of failure?

No, as I see it, the opposite of success is mediocrity and banality.

And I refuse to be mediocre; I can accept my failures and learn from them but I refuse to be boring.

I reflect on those past failures and successes when I have time to think; Sitting on a plane, driving in a car, working alone with nothing else to occupy my mind as I plow through routine tasks. In times of reflection I tend to work my psyche back into my youth. People do this, often without conscious effort they’ll surround themselves with things that they take comfort in – comfort foods, places they went in their youth, old friends.

I rediscover music I listened to when I was young. It’s just my way of going back and finding things that help me feel what I felt then. To reconnect and reconsider experiences past. It is completely conscious, but I find new meaning in the old as I move along in life.

“I remember what she said to me; how she swore that it never would end.
I remember how she held me oh so tight…I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.”

Isn’t it funny how our minds work? How things trigger our memories?

We all grow up different – no one’s experiences are the same and everything shapes who we are. It’s often during our development we ask the question, “who am I?” Then we spend years, sometimes decades trying to find that answer. Trying to define ourselves and not let others or society define us. And do we ever succeed? Can we ever define ourselves in our own mind or is who we are always a matter of how others perceive us? How many people ever truly get past not worrying at all about what other people think? I don’t think most of us do, and even through I’m older and more confident as a person I still care. I care about people, and their feelings, and how I affect them, and what they think of me. This I feel, many times, is my largest undoing in terms of intimate relationships.

Seems ironic, doesn’t it? The fact that I care about people and my friends actually leads to more difficulty in getting closer to the people that I’m interested in.

Should I expand on that? It might seem a dull dissertation. I’ll let it rest for now unless the question is posed to me.

We get older and life presses on. I’ve met a lot of young people along my way who express many of the same troubles I had when I was their age. My advice to them always is, nothing will seem as devastating in 10 years as it seems to you today. Keep your friends by your side – those are the truly important relationships. And if they don’t mature at the same pace you do and you drift apart, that’s ok too. You can’t recapture everything you’ve enjoyed in the past, but you will find new people and experiences to enjoy as you grow.

I’ve changed a lot as a person since my youth. My upbringing and the experiences of my adolescence would have seemed to have me destined to be in therapy as an adult. But I’ve managed to avoid it... to now at least.

A lot of learning experiences and a lot of pain reshaped me in a hurry as I moved from adolescence to adulthood. I still might need that leather couch, but right now I have something better – a non-stop life that leaves me little time to think about my troubles.

“The years rolled slowly past, and I found myself alone.
Surrounded by strangers I thought were my friends,
I found myself further and further from my home.

I guess I lost my way. There were oh so many roads.
I was living to run and running to live.
Never worrying about paying or even how much I owed.”

An almost perfect summation of my life as I get older I think. This song was always one of my favorites growing up.

My current life is busy – almost too busy to bear at times. I do find refuge in making new friends.

On this most recent trip I got to meet a couple of on-line friends and we had a great time. The conversation flowed and we laughed a lot. This is the best thing about being on the road. Experiencing people and places – learning, always learning. I try my best to listen and absorb what others can offer.

But now I’m flying home, possibly never to return to this area. I wonder if I will ever share an evening with these new found friends again.

It becomes a saddening thought to me – to have people that I enjoy in my life physically so briefly. Virtual conversations, text and emotes are no replacement for sharing a meal, making eye contact and exchanging smiles with people you find and enjoy. This has happened with every chance meeting on the road so far – never a repeat visit.

But tomorrow is another day, another trip, another opportunity to make new friends in new places. Every day has become an adventure – I enjoy it and at the same time it troubles me. I love to travel and at the same time, I miss the comforts of home. I love to have new experiences every day and at the same time I look to something more stable to make my life feel more complete.

Yet, it hasn’t happened. Not that none of it isn’t there. I just haven’t found what I feel to be real satisfaction in my life.

Maybe I’m one of those restless souls that just has to keep moving – a drifter, always searching for something more but never finding what I truly want or perhaps when it comes down to it, I don’t even know what I want.

“Eight miles a minute for months at a time, breaking all the rules that we’d bent.
I find myself searching... searching for shelter again and again…”

I guess in a way it comes back to how I define myself, and like many others I sense all too often I define myself based on how others feel about me. I want to be appreciated, loved, desired… not hollow words, but physical demonstrations by people I feel the same about. And my life is all but void of just that.

Words are easy – to truly open up to a person and give that person everything you have is difficult. It is all too familiar a concept to me. Knowing you’re putting yourself out there, putting your heart on the line. And when it’s not returned in kind it can leave an emotional vacancy that might possibly never be satisfied.

Been there… look, my T-shirt says so.

Perhaps I do ask for too much. Maybe I’m just not emotionally aware enough to realize what is there is good – better than good, and better than I can expect.

Maybe I’m too hard to please and I’ll never be satisfied with anything anyone can offer me in terms of love, desire and passion.

Maybe I haven’t found the right person yet.

And maybe I never will.

Maybe the right person is before my eyes and I just don’t see it.

And maybe I already have met her and let her slip away in my clueless, bumbling way.

“I have so much more to think about… deadlines and commitments.
What to leave in… and what to leave out.”

So I guess my question becomes am I on the right path to find what makes me happy? Do we ever really know?

Whatever path I’m on, I’m going to make the best of it until it ends.

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