Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Days in the Life

Like every young person who trying to become less of a projection of my own shortsightedness in all the most misguided ways, I watch the news. Or rather, I try to, but usually I am distracted by either the incomplete and gimmicky reporting of the corporate media conglomerates, their dismally poor grammar, or the home design marathon two channels over. But even after I am again blissfully lost in paint hues and my own bubble of existence, I always think about the people that have to make those big decisions. I don’t have (get?) to make decisions that affect even ten people, let alone millions of soldiers, or Iraqi civilians, or every single American, or the entire world. I’m not in a position to effect much change in an obvious or very pragmatic way. I just always think about how after these people whom we have placed all our hopes and trust in make all these very serious decisions that will affect every person alive, they’re going to go, like, eat a sandwich. The people that send us to war, bring us back, cut our taxes, raise them again, and decide if we’re all going to have classes to take or pensions to retire with are (to again quote my brilliant mother) just people. They make all these wild and vast-reaching changes, and then they go to Starbucks and decide if they want a hazelnut or a vanilla latte today. In my life, that is the biggest I’ll make in a day. I want to deeply affect people and live an important and far reaching life, but I’m still working on the balance between living each small day and having it add up to be a big life.

Before I decided to get over myself and think about real life (that is, listen to my parents) I kind of thought that once I got out of high school, life would only be the big things. I thought life would explode into a fanfare of only being deep and important, and I would somehow get to opt of the niggling little small-life things. This was not a well-founded theory, as remain unsure of exactly what big life that was (or might be in the future). Yet I am still boggled by the circus act it must be to have one’s whole life in order, and I am impressed by the whole adult world that finds it easy enough that they didn’t even need to warn me about it. How does anyone find enough space in the day for both little and big decisions, for both the news and HGTV, for both world-altering legislation and a skinny vanilla latte? I never appreciated what a delicate art it is to be able to enjoy the little things, the small stepping-stone days, the tiny joys where nothing explodes anywhere. I am still working on the contrast between living a whole big life and living each day. The important people in the world that affect even the teensiest life still get up every morning and go to bed every night. They still struggle with the treadmill and deal with their kids’ anger issues and enjoy a nice sunny day. They can’t all have personal assistants, and even that wouldn’t help them organize their minds. It’s hard for me to see that they know something I don’t, those ‘old’ people, and dropping it all is the only way I’m going to be able to learn to juggle it right.

I see people who only live for each day, not in a RENT type of way, but in a modest keep-my-high-school-job-forever way. Maybe some people never swim across that huge deep gap between living a good day and living a good life. I see people who don’t seem to notice it, who are just so well-adjusted that the small things are all they need (or maybe someone warned them, lucky sods). But I’m not either of those. I want to be able to love every day, to live it deliberately, but also to love all the days together. I want to love every chapter and love the whole book. I want to be able to write a chapter and still end up with a whole book. Where do the adults find the cohesion? It is an adjustment of this training-wheels adult stage that I never expected: how to balance the big and the small, to ford the vast space between who I am every individual day and who I hope to be, someday.


Anonymous said...

i thought your final paragraph was the strongest, especially in its direction and tone. Most notably, in the last paragraph after the parentheses, I felt like you began to tap into your transcendental self, which I believe is where the best form of writing comes from.

Anita said...

Listen, you are young enough and unencumbered enough to make big things happen in your life...just set goals and get to it. Don't be afraid to dream, because nobody else is going to dream for you and nobody else is going to do the work necessary to make your dreams come true. Figure out what you want to do and the best way to do it, and then get to it.