Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Life is Weird and Beautiful

I haven't been updating frequently because I haven't been feeling very creative and nothing too inspiring or exciting has happened lately. But I think it's time to dust the cobwebs off my blog and crank something out.

So here's some random stuff I've been thinking about lately.

     I have been very stressed out this semester about graduating. It's exciting but also terrifying. So much of my life is a question mark. As it should be at 22, probably. So much of it is out of my control. I could get a job I love and do it for the rest of my life or I could do something I hate and find I want to start all over again.
     Knowing that pretty much every adult in the world has gone through this at some point isn't comforting, it just makes my anxiety feel trivial.
     I read The Pale King a couple months ago, and it was a really lovely, depressing book. One of the quotes I wrote in my book journal from it was, "Routine, repetition, tedium, monotony, ephemeracy, inconsequence, abstraction, disorder, boredom, angst, ennui - These are the true hero's enemies, and make no mistake, they are fearsome indeed. For they are real." I think a lot of people end up places in life that they aren't happy with and they don't do anything about it. And I used to think this was really bad and sad and terrible, and like most young people I wanted an exciting, adventurous life.
     But now...(and this is how I know I'm getting old) I look at that quotation and I think that Wallace had it wrong. Obviously he was a very brilliant man with a lot of problems and a lot of screwed up thinking, and he killed himself..and one of the probable reasons is because he couldn't deal with those enemies he listed.
But are they really enemies? Routine just means stability. repetition means familiarity. tedium and monotony are inescapable and I agree one must learn to deal with those things. Ephermacy, if it means the same thing as ephemerality which I think it does, isn't fearsome, it's beautiful.
     I know longer see these things as part of a terrible, dull life, but just as a part of life. any lfie.

In this video, (which you should really click away to watch) one of my heroes talks about his college years and how when he was young he "thought adulthood would basically consist of having a series of very interesting conversations about great books. It turns out that adulthood primarily consists of standing in line and being on hold." 
But what I really like about the video is what he says at the end.
"Professional lives, which take turns you can never imagine - from lawyer to librarian, or from minister to vlogger - are important. But it's not what life is about. Human life is really about relationships and communities."

     Earlier today in my YA lit class, we had to do a project that I didn't like at all. We had to read a biography of a person (not today, some time before today) and then today we had to dress up like the person and deliver a 5-minute monologue about his or her life. I didn't like it for a few reasons. I mean, I thought the assignment was fun, but it was pretty juvenile for a university class and it was just poorly organized and not well-executed in the class, but anyways, something struck me about the presentations. While delivering the monologue, we weren't supposed to say who the person was, so our classmates could have a chance to guess who we were.
    And for most of the monologues there was a certain point where everyone in the audience had that "aha" moment. Some of the people were obvious just from the costume, or if we had all read a book or seen a movie about that person's life then as soon as we knew where and when he or she was born, we would know who it was. But for most of the people it wasn't until a certain detail came out of the monologue that we really got it.
For example, I was David Suzuki and as soon as I said I hosted The Nature of Things on CBC, most of the class audibly went "ahhhh".

     Later, I was talking to my friend who wasn't in the class about this and how most people's early lives aren't that distinguishable, really. Most of the first halves of the monologues were the same for everyone. Where the subject was born, their schooling and early life...and it wasn't until adulthood that the focus came in, whether that was environmental activism or painting or fashion or acting.
My friend said, "Yeah, usually people don't get famous until the middle or end of their lives"
Obviously there are tonnes of exceptions to this generalization, but it kind of made me feel less anxious about not knowing where my life is going.
In 50 years if anybody is giving a monologue pretending to be me, what's happened up until this point could possibly be summed up in a paragraph.

The other thing that's important to remember about lives is that they aren't stories. They don't make sense as they are happening. I gave a monologue based on Suzuki's autobiography, where he was selective about what to include. We don't know the significance of events until later. Which is so frustrating and exciting.

The end of Suzuki's autobiography was kind of similar to John Green's point about relationships, and it's how I chose to end my monologue.
"I hope that my life can be summed up as a positive addition to the human family. Perhaps one or two programs I've done on television or radio will be played again after I'm dead, perhaps a book or two I've written will be read. That would be nice. But the one true legacy of any value is my children and, through them, my grandchildren.”

So.....all that is to say I don't know where I'm going 
but it's probably okay. 
  In the words of Meghan Tonjes: "I know that I will be loved no matter where I go. And I'm gonna be fine, fine fine."

Here's me dressed as the great David Suzuki.


  1. Really beautiful and insightful blog post. The costume is hilarious and spot-on, too.

    Even if Wallace had it wrong, do you think it is wrong to be scared of those things? You say that Wallace couldn't deal with them and that's why he's dead. But everyone dies. So even if we deal with them, doesn't the legacy that we leave behind matter more? If the process is all the same (everyone begins their life the same and it's impossible to know what's important while it's happening), then whether you deal with them or not doesn't seem all that important to me.

    I think it's right to fear the unknown and the known. Not to live in fear, but to do be constantly aware of your place in the world and what you will leave behind. I feel that those motivated to do great things only do so because of the fear of monotony and the desire to make the world a better place for themselves and their children. No one wants those around them trapped by the day-to-day because then they won't really have anything left behind. However, if you never think about (and fear) the "daily grind", then it will consume you, just as the opposite did for Wallace: think too hard about what you will leave behind and no one around you would have been positively affected by your life as it happened.

    Life seems to be a balance. Wallace was right to fear the banal and the monotonous; but I'm not sure that fear should be what motivates you. Desire should. A desire for safety, security, a legacy, capital "B" big-things, children...

    David Suzuki, like all others I feel have done great things, desired, feared and learned from the unknown and left a legacy that is beautiful and respectable. I hope I may do the same.

    1. I agree with you, but I guess not thinking about those things and having them consume me because I don't think about and fear them has never been a danger for me.
      It was always that I thought about and feared them too much, so my realization that they aren't the worst thing ever, that they aren't enemies to fear so much as things to accept...I think that's a good step for me.
      And I don't think people to great things just out of the fear of monotony. I am at a place in my life where I am willing to have a small life, full of monotony, because I know that the most important things are possible in small lives too. Family, friends, and love. And I know it is possible to change the world in small ways every day and that's what I plan on doing.