i remember as a young boy who had just discovered the internet that i would talk for hours and hours to friends online. some were friends that i had rarely talked to in school, but ended up talking to for the sake of talking to somebody on the computer. others were friends that i had made via chat rooms or some damned thing. but the thing is, i remember that i would come home from school, do homework or whatever, and just talk.
as college ensued, i still talked often with friends online, though this gradually dwindled as my college career progressed, as i made more friends in closer proximity that i ended up spending time with. but even before that, during my first year of college, i made a lot of friends on my floor, with which i spent many hours talking about simply whatever. my sophomore, junior, and senior years, that list always contracted and expanded again, as all collectives of friends do. the point is: i was constantly and consistently interacting with others.
nowadays, i find that i rarely talk to anybody about anything. this is most likely because there isn’t anybody online or around to talk to anymore. everybody from high school is either far away living their lives, or—for the most part—living at home still, and—more often than not—nurturing both spouse and child. all of my friends from college are out trying to make it in this shit world. and here i am—doing just the same—all alone, with barely anybody familiar around.
i chose this life—preached it—almost three years ago now, and the story of how this all came to be is common knowledge among most. [if you—the reader—are unaware, just poke around here—around my swiss cheese brain—for a little while, and i am sure that you will come across something. i promise you: the holes in there are large enough for even the tallest person to navigate them with ease. just watch out for the cobwebs and empty beer bottles.] i chose this life of being alone (i refused to ever call it loneliness, because that’s not what it was). the simplicity of being responsible only to ones self, freed of the drama and problems of others.
curiously, i thrived on the problems of others as the meat of most conversations in my early life. it would seem that i was drawn to people in distress. i liked to try to help people as best i could, despite the fact that my own young life, so innocent, mundane, stagnate, and stale, did not afford me experiences from which to gain knowledge that could be passed on to them to assist with their current situations. nevertheless, i was good at helping others through their tough times, and it was through this that i developed friendships—this was how many of my young relationships with people began.
i began thinking about this because i was thinking of my conversations with my grandparents over the past two days. mostly, beyond just inquiring as to how everybody has been, conversations are comprised of situational observations, and the like—there is no meat to the conversations—no depth. and who says there has to be? i don’t. but it made me realize that i rarely have conversations anymore with anybody with any meat in them or depth to them. these types of conversations—i have always believed—are paramount to developing strong relationships with people.
the fact that i am thinking about any of this (most of which is being thought of as it is being written down, which is to say, that none of what i am writing was premeditated), would suggest that i desire these types of conversations and relationships—desire what i had as a child. this is in direct contrast to my staunch position over the past three years. after a summer alone in albany, i just wanted to graduate, and live alone to be able to develop my new life in my own way away from people, who, through observation of their activities and beliefs via a variety of media, i grew to detest. yet here i am, three years later, feeling quite unlike i expected: i am no longer just alone—but lonely; i have very few friends in albany. aside from my friend joe, who truly treats me like a friend that i feel i could never be in return, all of my relationships with acquaintances are, for the most part, very superficial. i love them for who they are, but there is nothing really there. this could be my fault for i have not made an astounding effort to get to know anybody well. the latter stems from my distaste with people in our society, as well as perpetual exhaustion. i’ve been aching to change this. and so i think that i will.
anyway: i have not made an astounding effort to get to know anybody new, except for one girl, this summer. i don’t believe that i have really alluded anywhere or to anyone that i think the majority of my near mental collapse this fall was due--in part--to a series of conversations that i had with her.
toward the end of this summer, i finally ended up spending time outside of work with the summer interns. i had been meaning to all summer long, but had not. that summer, i was feeling particularly sociable, and had already made several new friends. but much of that fell through, as it always seems to. i digress: they were a spectacular bunch of fun intellectuals with whom i spent a good deal of time. in a short amount of time, we hung out a lot and did all sorts of things all over albany. i immediately felt accepted and at home with them. finally: i had a group of friends with whom i could consistently spend time. i became close with one of the interns in particular--i will simply refer to her as “k”. if the feeling of closeness is not mutual, then i will say that i, at least, felt very close to her, for the reasons described below. read on!
at that point in time, she was at the stage of her life that i was at when i came to albany as an intern two years prior. come to find out, we had much in common. and she made an effort to hang out with me and talk to me, and we always had something to talk about. as alluded to above, many of the things discussed had a large impact on me and how i viewed my life and the world around me--this is human communication at its best--this was a welcome deviation from the often boring and useless communication i was having with anybody else. and inevitably, speaking with someone in that way in a consistent manner will always lead to the development of some friendship, and an underlying bond of some kind. i don’t think that kind of bond has a title or definition; more often than not, it probably goes unacknowledged. but there is the understanding between two people who otherwise had no idea who each other was, that they 'get it', so to speak--when others seem incapable of doing so--and respect and appreciate what they have to say. up until then, i don’t think anybody felt that i had anything particularly noteworthy to say. i don’t think that i have anything particularly noteworthy to say. why are you reading this?
moreover, she did the one thing that it seems i simply would not do myself: challenge me to accomplish the things that i had been saying for so long that i wanted to do that i was “too busy” or “too tired” to do. and so i made time to finally do some of them—if anything—because i felt like i had something to prove. preservation and augmentation of dignity is a strong motivation for getting things accomplished. i greatly appreciate her for challenging me, and it made me respect her even more. i like to think that her knowledge of my meeting these challenges caused the respect to be at least someone mutual.
so at the conclusion of the summer program, when she and the rest of the interns left, this small slice of time in my life where things were finally coming together—this time came to an end. an infinitesimally small, yet spectacularly significant chapter of my life ended. at least in consistency.
this was devastating to me, as i said above, because i finally had a group of friends that i felt a part of—finally could share the thoughts and ideas that make me me with people who understood.
i tried to keep in touch, at first, but all of them were starting up college--again, and i was starting up graduate school classes--again. staying in touch became difficult. i have been meaning to get in touch with them. and so i think that i will.
my memory is not what it was, so many years ago. perhaps it is not that i cannot remember things as well, but because i do not take the time to relax and dwell on fond memories of my past in as much detail as i could. at any rate, the time i spent with them went by fast—there were a lot of memories cram-packed into one week. yes. one week. and i find it difficult now to recall them. what i need to do is as i said above: relax and dwell. whether i can recall them or not, i know that this time in my life was one i wish i could relive a thousand times over and over and over again—not changing a thing. some periods of time in life are like that.
i realized early last year that i needed people in my life again. and so last summer, i had met and spent some time with them. people unlike those i became so fed up with. after the interns left, however, i found myself quickly crawling back into my shell of solitude. i became so close with the interns that i did not want to be around anybody else. unfortunately for me, two catastrophic events occurred this fall that i should not have gone through alone, which just exacerbated my situation. one, was the passing of my grandfather, the greatest man i will ever know. the second was a pervasive and growing sense that what i was doing with my life was meaningless, useless, and not getting me anywhere. this thought that i was just wasting my life away as a student was inescapable. and it made me painfully angry, scared, confused, and downright miserable. i have since overturned this mindset, did some work and some thinking, and realized that what i am doing is what i want to do. but i also realized that i need a family of friends around me in order to do it. i realized that i needed to take the time to separate myself from my work, and from school, in order to take time for myself to be able to engage in my hobbies, and so forth.
as previously mentioned, my class schedule this past semester sapped me of all my energy, motivation, and happiness. i simply could not do anything with my free time but sleep. i have been done with class, and my two vacations have given me the opportunity to entirely revitalize myself. my class schedule next semester, though demanding, will still afford me the freedom to sleep and wake as i please, and hopefully, be energized enough to be able to pursue my hobbies in my free time.
i need to do something with my music. i have been saying this for so long now and have barely done anything about it. k got me to do something with it, albeit briefly. and i hope that when travelling with a musical instrument becomes more feasible (i.e. once spring comes along), i will find the strength and motivation to start performing and recording again. it needs to be done.
also, i have been silent for so long, barely writing or publishing anything. as i have said, my goal during this week in florida was to take the time to reflect, and write again. already, i have written several times each day. and this is good. i will not have the freedom to keep this up once i return to reality next weekend, but it is my hope that by spending so much time writing, that it will become something that i engage in more often. more often than not, my brain becomes a prison for ideas, lamentations, exclamations, and the like. just getting things out has been unbelievably relieving. hopefully, i can keep this up, too.
here is an account of a brief thought that turned into three and a quarter pages of reflection on this past fall. i did not mean for it to be. described here is what i knew i would have to think about and write about in order to accomplish what i wanted to this week. that is not to say that i will stop writing, but that the hardest thing to write has been written. [and i will tell you: this has been fairly easy and unbelievably relieving to write, although, it will probably be difficult for me to feel comfortable publishing—public honesty can be a difficult thing, especially if you fear people will misunderstand you, when its counts that you’re understood.]
i believe that the reason for my near mental collapse this fall was because of the departure of the interns. the reason i became so skeptical, and then violently fed up with my career was because of a conversation k and i had one night, atop the new york state museum as the sun went down. we both agreed that, despite being scientists with undoubtedly successful futures, we both had a passion for writing or music, and that it might be difficult to live a life in which we gave up the time to pursue our passions in exchange for job security—for money. [note: i have always said, since my ‘rebirth’ in the fall of 2007, that science and research were a passion of mine. they still are. but, music and writing are two things, my relationship with, i simply cannot describe. they are my life force, whereas science—though a passion—is something i like to do, and a way in which i like to think. it is rational. music and writing can be irrational. one could say, then, that music and science are my yin and yang.] that thought frightened me to no end, made me feel, as described above, a though i were living this drab, prescribed life. i know now that that is not that case, and that i can continue on with my education as i was (i can even say that as a result of this experience, my desire to learn more about what it is that i am doing greatly increased). but i also learned that i must take the time also to pursue music and writing, for, even if i cannot spend the majority of my time engaged in these passions, at least i can say that i am still doing my best to immerse myself in them. and this week, i have engaged in writing. when my guitar gets fixed, i will engage in music. i will.
and i will do everything, i have promised myself, that i wrote down here that i would do: i will get to know my albany friends better, i will get in touch with the other interns, i will reflect on my time this summer and i will smile, and i will continue during this vacation and thereafter to put my thoughts on paper, so that they may live free, and not imprisoned in the awful environment that which is my brain, and i will get my guitar repaired, and i will play out and record the songs that i have wrote, and then write even more (hopefully based on some of the topics i write about this week). these are the goals i have set for myself, and i hope that some day soon, i can say aloud that i have achieved them.
as we now come to the beginning of page five, i can say with confidence that i have not felt this accomplished, relieved, certain of myself, in tune with myself, or proud of myself in a very, very, long time.
thank you for your attention.