I met an old friend for dinner and drinks a couple of days ago and I really liked it. It was pleasant. On hindsight I wish I had talked less and asked more, listened more. I wish I had been calmer, less eager to explain myself, more eager to learn and understand. But I also recognize that I’ve made some progress from who I was a few years ago– back then I would just talk at people. I’m oversimplifying on both counts, it’s not like I ONLY talked at people, but the proportions have changed. So that’s good. I just need more of that.
It makes me realize that I need people in my life. That’s what solitude has taught me, I think.  At the same time, it felt like solitude was necessary. I wouldn’t have known who I was or who I cared about or what I liked or disliked if I hadn’t walked away. It’s like leaving your hometown so that you can return and see it with fresh eyes. You need to climb the mountain to see the the valley, and you need to be in the valley to see the mountain, so on and so forth. Solitude might not be my main mode of existence, and I’m pretty sure I won’t end up in a secluded monastery in the mountains, but I can see the value of spending SOME time there to give you more context about your own life, your own decisions, perspectives, yadda yadda.
What about other old friends? After unfriending everybody on Facebook, I lost touch with quite a lot of people that I used to hang out with regularly, talk to regularly, argue with regularly. I left all my Whatsapp and Telegram groups, I unfollowed everyone on Twitter and Tumblr. I realized I used to use the drama and details of other peoples’ lives to distract me from my own. I heard from another friend that she had done something similar– that in the constant documentation of life she had kinda forgotten to actually live.
These are rather cliche scripts. I’m living a cliche script and thinking I’m original. Well– why crave originality, anyway? I guess the only thing to crave is interesting-ness. We’re back in everything-is-a-remix territory. The goal is to make interesting remixes, to enjoy things. But we can also enjoy cliches, enjoy things for what they are.
Do I miss my old friends? I think in some sense yes and some sense no. I miss the past in a nostalgic sense, but in many ways I don’t want to go back there. I deeply appreciate everything I shared with everybody who shared any moment with me, and a part of me does want to reach out to everybody to tell them about that appreciation. But I also recognize that if I enter the same old pattern, if I reach out to them with “hey, I’m back and I missed ya’ll and I have nothing to show for myself”, then I wouldn’t be serving them in the way I want to serve them. (How do I want to serve them? I have these delusions of enlightenment and grandeur, where I accomplish great things and be very fulfilled and then inspire them with my mere presence. Why do I have these delusions? Again, they are distractions from me living in the now, from addressing my own person issues.)
Seriously, what are these goddamn issues that I keep talking about? Jeez, I’m getting sick of my script here and I’d really like to ditch it. But it feels like I can’t ditch it until I get some things done. I have recurring dreams that are really uncomfortable– almost nightmarish, but not so garish– more mundane. Like… I’ll dream that I’m back in junior college, and I’m flunking all my exams and failing everything. I’m living in the past, I’m trying to take revenge on everything that hurt me. That’s no way to live. And I’ll never be able to fully exact revenge. I keep trying to fix things that were broken in the past. I really need to forgive myself, forgive all my teachers and peers, forgive and accept my circumstances. I didn’t do well. I didn’t keep. That was then, it was what it was, and this is now. And I have a universe of growth ahead of me. I have new skills to learn, new people to meet, new things to see, new things to do. And I keep trying to tie all of it together. And I’m sure I will, in some way, and I’m also sure that I NEVER will, in another way. So there’s a sort of middle path that needs to be tread. I feel like I’m definitely away-from-middle.
So that’s it, then. It’s just about reaching the middle way. Simple as that. Recognizing when I’m falling into old routines, and refocusing on the now. It feels a bit like cheating– how do I know I won’t fall into like, short-sighted procrastination? Isn’t that what got me in trouble in the first place?
I think there’s a distinction there, and I know that I know what that distinction is. There’s a denial and there’s an embracing. And I’ve always been doing the denial thing.
I need strength and courage to face up to things that I avoid. Cooking was one of them. There are other things. I will face up to them all. And it will be joyous.
 I haven’t been ENTIRELY solitary, but I’ve been a good deal more solitary than I was before. And when I’m alone with my own thoughts… who am I? What do I care about when I don’t have anybody to impress, when I don’t need to explain myself, when I don’t need to play status games? I find that I care less and less about big picture things, about global issues (although I watched the India’s Daughter documentary and seethed with rage), and more about figuring out how to expand my circle of influence. I want to be able to actually do things to improve my lot in life, and to help other people directly. But even that is thinking too far ahead. Right now the only person I should be focused on helping is me. The only thing I should be concerned about is improving my own power of influence, so that I can control my own life-situation. That can sound or seem selfish, but I mean that in a way that incorporates others into the conception of the self. I’m sure I’ve written about that elsewhere before so there’s no need to go into details explaining that right now.
Okay. So if the only thing that matters is becoming a better person, learning and growing as an individual, helping myself, winning over my subconscious… what are my next steps?
Overthinking. Confront the now. Embrace it.