There are all these movies where the middle-aged protagonist wakes up one days and says to himself, “What happened to me? When I wasn’t a kid, I didn’t dream about becoming a claims adjuster. How did I go wrong?”
And I’m sure that’s a much worse feeling when you’re doing something that you don’t like. But doesn’t everybody experience that to some degree? I feel that way all the time. I mean, it’s hard to remember (because memory is so fuzzy and inaccurate) but I’m pretty sure that when I was a kid, my dream was not to become a writer. I wanted to be a physicist or a businessman or something like that. Books were something I was interested in, but not in and of themselves. I liked them as fuel for the imagination. They awakened a sense of possibility in me.
But here I am!
Not as a result of any solid, concrete decisions on my part, but mostly because I made a number of tiny decisions regarding writing and failed to make those tiny decisions regarding anything else.
Or take where I live.
I remember that when I went to college in California, my mother said, “That’s it. You’re going to become Californian and never come back” and I said, “No! I’m all about the East Coast!”
And even when I was in California for school, I don’t know that I had a sense of it as the place where I was going to live forever and ever.
But here I am!
I mean, really it’s just because one of my college roommates moved to Oakland a few years after graduating. And I visited him and thought he was living a graceful and fun life. So when I was looking to leave D.C., that was the place that I went to.
There’s nothing wrong with either of those things: being a writer; and being a Californian. Everything worked out pretty well on both of those fronts. But they’re just not what I imagined for myself. They’re not how I thought my life would go. I guess that on both fronts, I thought my life would be a little more adventurous. That I’d go lots of places. And that my career would be something active and vigorous: something that involved building things or ordering people around.
But…you know, the truth was that while I enjoyed the thought of doing those things, I didn’t enjoy their actuality. In terms of actualities, I enjoy lying in bed until noon and reading. And then doing some writing in the afternoon. And then getting in some decent-quality chilling with my peeps. (And occasionally being harried and frustrated by various deadlines, lest you think my life is stress-free).
Not saying that people need to pursue enjoyment all the time–or even that it’s the best thing to pursue. In fact, I think there’s a limit to how far enjoyment can get you. It’s important to find some meaning in life that goes beyond personal enjoyment, because sometimes life is just not enjoyable and that really sucks and if it’s not meaningful either then what are you living for? But I’m still working on finding the balance between meaning and enjoyment.
It is so late at night now.