I have a couple of things on my mind. The first is a sort of persisting wistfulness, the second is a collection of thoughts I have that have emerged from re-reading some old vomits while doing summaries.
First, the persisting wistfulness. It has taken many different forms. At one point it felt almost crippling, like a sort of depression. I wouldn’t say it was an existential _crisis_, more of an existential woe. I like to think that I’ve made my peace with the fact that life is ultimately absurd and meaningless, and that one day this assemblage of cells that contains the phenomena I experience and describe as “Visakan Veerasamy” will decay, dismantle, decompose and disintegrate. And eventually ALL atoms will decay into a lukewarm nothingness. I accept that, or I claim to accept that.
But within that grand, dismal nothingness there are assumptions I must’ve had about what my experience of life– be it 25 years, 50 years, 75, 100, 150– what that experience would be like. What adulthood would be like. What personal responsibility will be like. And I’ve been wrong about some of those assumptions, even without ever having made them particularly explicit or precise. Even now, I’m not exactly sure what they were, or if there’s any utility in me trying to write them down. Maybe I should set that as a task for a later vomit.
Something about these mistaken assumptions has made my experience of life a little unpleasant. “Unpleasant” isn’t quite the right word. I feel like I’ve half-moulted, and my old skin isn’t completely shed. I haven’t been able to properly discard it. I feel like it needs a proper burial or funeral of some sort, some sort of ritual to help me truly “get over it” (if it’s something that can EVER be gotten over). And yet the idea of making time for it feels a little trivial, naive, desperate. But I suppose I should, as long as it’s still on my mind. I should make time to deal with it. That’s part of what these vomits are for. If it helps me cope, if it helps me survive, then I should do it.
But see, even now I haven’t gotten around to describing what these assumptions are, how they were broken, why I feel the way I do, why I don’t feel like I’m completely present in the moment, why I feel like I haven’t quite fully accepted or recognized reality as it presents itself to me, within me, around me.
I’m 25 years old. I’m married. I’m a home owner. I have a wife and two cats. I feed all of us with the currency I obtain in exchange for the labor I provide the world. I came from a family of individuals, and my family isn’t perfect. I work for a team, and the team is far more “perfect” than I ever dared imagine myself working with, or working in. I have a marriage with a woman I love and enjoy very deeply. I have a body that’s functional– it allows me to walk, it’s relatively healthy, it’s relatively in shape. I have a mind that’s literate, reasonably thoughtful, has the capacity for change. I’m one of the lucky ones among those who have been born on Earth.
So what is my problem? What am I so wistful about? What is it that seems to trouble me? I’ve learnt to function despite it, but I don’t want to continue to function DESPITE it. I want to address it. I want it to be resolved, or otherwise dealt with in a way that allows me to engage more fully with the present, with my circumstances, my obligations.
Perhaps I was expecting that I would be extremely happy and satisfied and fulfilled by now. Was that what I was expecting? Of course not. I knew that it would be a lifelong challenge. I understand the reality that happiness is what you make of it, when you exercise gratitude. That millionaires can be unhappy too.
Perhaps I was expecting that I would be stronger by now. That I would have grown more as a person. That I would be more responsible, more disciplined, more in control of my life. I think that might be it. I’m wistful for an imagined reality that never came to be, that has not yet come to be. Or I’m wistful for a time where I could fantasize about that reality without being held accountable for it, without being held responsble for it. Is that it?
There’s more. I’m wistful for the naive schoolboy ignorance of how human relationships work, of how loneliness really works. I’m wistful for idealistic naivete. Is that it? I wish life was easier?
No, I knew life wasn’t going to be easy. I wish that I would have more freedom, more control? It is mine if I fight for it, it I claw with my fingernails for it. I hoped that I would have more of an appetite, maybe. I hoped that I would be more assertive, more confident, more intense. But again, those things are mine if I desire them and take actions towards them.
I was fantasizing for this beautiful future where I would have my shit in order, where I would make the right calls and the right decisions simply out of accumulated wisdom from thinking and reading and writing. But that’s not how it works, I know that. You have to do the work, and the work is painful. You have to move your feet, move your body, move your muscles.
I was hoping I would be strong by now. I was hoping that I would be able to brush off the stresses of everyday life, of a shitty daily commute. I was hoping that I would be able to, through sheer force of will, make big dents in my obligations. To grow and be strong and to help others. And I’m facing the reality where I’m 25 and I haven’t made enough progress on that front to truly satisfy me. Just two days ago, I was looking at my stats at work and I saw that the two main things I measure myself on (traffic and leads, if it matters) were at the highest that they’ve ever been. Yet I don’t feel fulfilled yet. I don’t feel satisfied yet. And I understand the nature of the hedonic treadmill, but that’s not what this is. I want to feel like I gave it my best, and it feels like “my best” is not something I can even access.
Well. If I can’t access my best, is it really my best, or is it a pipedream? What is my best RIGHT NOW? I can only go by what I measure. So I SHOULD be happy and proud of what I’ve done AND want to do better, AND want to access higher states of functioning. And I do believe it’s possible.
So why am I wistful? The reason isn’t likely to be satisfyingly complex. It’s likely to be embarrassingly simple. I think it boils down to the fact that I’m not keeping promises to myself. I’ve promised myself more than this. I want to respect myself, and truly respecting myself requires me doing more than this. So how do I do more? The insight I’ve gotten is– it comes from baby steps, little bits, _whether I like it or not_.
I probably haven’t resolved this just by writing about it for a thousand words. But I will resolve it. I don’t intend to be a floating ball of wistfulness for the remainder of my days. The thing is, the only thing that can change that is me, and my own actions. Not thoughts. Not ideas. Blood and sweat and callouses.