One Friday evening while perusing Quarterlette, procrastinating on a project, I found myself once again relating to new ‘friends’ on the internet.
Flip back to 10 months ago when I sat at a computer in the apartment of my friend Dany, a chica I had met only a few weeks prior and who had invited me to stay with her during the last week of my life-changing, two year, solo trip across the globe. I was chatting to my best friend Tessa. My earth angel as I call her. I met her at the beginning of my trip, in a hostel room in Northern Vietnam. She complimented my baggy pants and asked if I wanted coffee. She was my kind of friend. Without speaking we can read each others’ thoughts and feelings and can provide advice to each other that we wish we were able to say to ourselves.
Kindred spirits, we talk endlessly about our lack of fulfillment, searching for our meaning, future goals, happiness, and planning our lives. All over a glass of sangria, obviously. During that conversation in Dany’s apartment, I divulged to Tess that I thought I was destined to help people. The previous night Dany’s cat Luna died in her arms and I felt like I was meant to be there to provide some sort of comfort. I had no idea what to do with Luna, and it took me five minutes of frantically checking every orifice of the poor feline to make sure she had in fact flown up to the mice field in the sky before telling Dany. I felt that it was meant to be, and my qualms about returning home to smallish town life, inevitably to my parents humble abode and no job, were somewhat eased by my newfound realization.
I didn’t know where I was going with this new goal, but at least it was there. Phew. The conversation then led to a variety of ideas about how this could be achieved. Tess was included as, quite frankly, we had a plan of living in a house together drinking wine to fund. That’s a lot of wine. Our talents? We decided it was our ability to give the most profound advice to other people, while still being totally lost when it came to ourselves. So we would write a book – a book on hindsight! We would title it ‘Come get advice from us, the girls who know absolutely nothing.’ We’d make sure there was a disclaimer, naturally, and we would send questionnaires out to our friends and family to get comical quotes for the back cover. And as for the content? Well…we could figure out that part later. This book idea was our lives at that point – a nice cover, a few funny anecdotes and a yet-to-be-filled middle section.
The next day I returned home from my trip with all the necessary kerfuffle. Health check, check! Re-telling stories countless times to friends and family, check! Unpacking, check! Job to fill the time and put off the career for a little while longer while I adjust, check! Ignore all of my anxiety by listening to music and planning future escape routes, check! Write the book…erm…
Instead what has ensued is ten months of life as it was before. Only, it’s not. This time the people are a little older, a little wiser, the problems a little harder. And the decisions? The decisions seem to have more impact than ever before as what you decide now really will affect your future.
After what can only be described as the most unexpectedly traumatic months of my (still short) life, I am no closer to finding my meaning. Life hits you hard sometimes and still, in all the chaos, my deepest problem is my lack of direction. All the other stuff I can handle, but that’s hard. In yet another long and enlightening message from my best friend two nights ago she said, “I know you are searching for your meaning my love, but the answer is that there isn’t one meaning. You are meant to be a great friend, a great advice giver, a source of happy energy that shines and makes people feel good. You are already doing all of those things.”
It’s shocking when you realize you’re living that stage of your life that used to be the ‘what are you going to be when you grow up?’ Now you’re grown up and you still don’t have a clue. Maybe “meaning” isn’t a big epiphany; maybe it’s a series of small realizations. After all, was Neil Armstrong meant to walk on the moon? Yes. But he also lived for 40 years after he did that, and did he just sway about drinking and watching his moon landing clip for 40 years, basking in his non gravitational status? No, no he didn’t.
What I realized reading those Quarterlette stories that Friday night is that I could relate to them in a personal way, appreciating them because they spoke of the same turmoil I’m experiencing, the success after the turmoil. What I didn’t see was a story from somebody who had yet to set foot on their path. Then I remembered Tess’s words, “you are already doing all of those things.” So maybe that’s the secret – just keep moving forward. By the time you get the answers, you’ve already developed a set of new questions. There is no right path, it is littered with forks and what feels like a lot of roundabouts. But in the end, at least you are walking your own path.