When I turned 24, I remember doing something very, very stupid.
I looked up what famous people had done when they were 24. There’s a website. You type in your age and it tells you accomplishments done at the same. 24: Kepler defended his solar system. Springsteen wrote “Born To Run”. A million other people changed the world.
So I set out to write a novel. That was going to be 2012. Age 24. Finish the first draft. It’d be shitty but who cares. This Side of Paradise is shitty by Fitzgerald standards and it still blew my mind. It’s still my favorite book. Fitzgerald published it at 24. F*ck.
I started making notes. I was still in Buffalo Grove ay my parents house. I was in the exact same space I am writing now. More on that in a minute.
I left for New Orleans February 1st. That kicked off 10 months of traveling. I came back in December and found my notebook. It was supposed to be filled with notes for this novel I was writing. It barely had any. It had a few quotes in a corner. Some Tennyson ramblings. That was it.
I failed to followup to reach my goal. Luckily, I’ve failed before. And I know it’s nothing to worry about.
And so it was fitting that driving to eat lunch with my cousin on my 25th birthday, the first song to play on the radio was the magnificent “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. This year, I suppose, I got what I needed. Or, at least, something I wouldn’t have known that I wanted.
Sitting here now, back in my parents’ basement, things have come remarkably full circle. Though, while the space is the same, nothing else seems to be. New job. New routine. New computer. New tools. New intelligence. New opportunities. And yet, I’ll be doing the same thing come February 1 (just booked a flight to Denver for the day before). Another January at home, another departure after.
(Though this year I won’t spend all January here. Going to see this guy get himself inaugurated again.)
So the novel’s gone. It’ll come back. There’s plenty of time for that. Junot Diaz told young writers not to write anything until we’re 29. It’s probably bad advice, but what isn’t?
So where am I at now?
“Everything has been figured out, except how to live” – Sartre
Well, I continue to dream big (read: often impossible), but I’m sticking to it. Being realistic just doesn’t seem to interest me anymore. It’s god awfully boring anyway.
I’m working on the “only connect” part of life. The “solvutir ambulando” part of thinking. The “I cannot rest from travel, I will drink life to the lees” part of living.
Of course, there’s more. Trying to live an examined lifestyle brings buckets of reflections. But it’s all summed up to say that I’m happy and excited about life and all my energy is positive and bursting from there. As I wrote elsewhere, “this is my year of my why and doing it.”
So, some early ideas for 2013….
Stay Lean — Stealing this one from Zirtual. It’s not to be skinny, but just lean. Not too complicated. Not too much consumption. Not too much accumulation. Staying on a more even keel with the earth and borrowing its beauty for only what’s needed. But also just not bringing too much stuff places. Staying light on goods, big on ideas.
2525words – Already started this up. 25 words per day. Public. An exercise in life, memory and detail. Establish a voice in a small box. It’s not the greatest of writing ideas. But that’s okay. Let’s just see where it goes.
One Big Conversation – For a long time, I’ve explored the idea of everything being part of one big conversation. All verbal exchanges, texts, tweets, everything – all part of a dialogue that expresses who we are, what we love and what we’d fight for. I want to explore this in a new ways. The first is responding to all those who wished me a Happy Birthday on Facebook. Because, well, why not. I don’t want my conversation to be passive. I still dream of being classified as a “conversationalist” (see: Wilde, Oscar; Parker, Dorothy; Stein, Gertrude). That’d be the day. There’s a lot there. A lot to listen to. A lot to be a part of.
Virtual/Physical Self – This will be explored through my job, but really it’s something we should all observe and examine. We’re creating very, very active avatars. Our online selves are online and representations of us. I’d prefer not to create a phantasmagoria or a ghost, but something real, substantial and true to myself.
And there will be more through this year of 25. I’m sure of that.
Really, if I can continue to travel, encourage growth and learning, challenge myself and make friends, this year will be as good as the last. Novel or no novel.