Elevenths, Tenths, Fifths, Fourths, and Firsts

Usually it's not a good combination when it's late at night and I can't sleep and I turn to blogging; a philosophical insomnia brought on from a strange concoction of emotions, with a dash of good, brooding music stuck on repeat.

I like to consider my past an open book; one that I jealously guard and flaunt when able.  Indeed, my envy-filled pride is always eager to arrogantly supplant anyone else's history.  But while I'd rather not admit it, this post is less about my past and more about the future.  My future, to be exact.  The bleak, unimaginable landscape that haunts me and sends me scurrying away into my dreams.  You'd think that someone so eloquently fanciful in his dreaming might be able to combat the unknown fears that lurk under tomorrow's first light, but you'd be wrong.

Without ground to stand on, they are simply there to drown me.

But let's get back to the hidden, indefinite creature that sits between my thoughts and my would be audience.  I always hated when people would ask me, "where do you see yourself in five years?"  Go ahead, make it six years, or seven years, or ten years, or even just one year.  Some 365 days from now. Where would I see myself?  What would I hope to be doing?  Who would I be becoming?  I don't know, and to be completely honest, I don't believe I've ever known.  You'd think someone who's mind is racing with thoughts and ideas, card games, board games, potential movie scripts, assorted collections of writings, budding novellas, and other inspired works might be able to see himself in some sort of location, occupation, or other sensation relative to an indeterminate time from now.  But you'd be wrong.

Brief history: I was especially involved in music from a young age.  Yes, I was an unmistakeable band geek.  Nerd, if you prefer.  Dweeb, I would contest.  Regardless, I spent from 4th grade to 12th grade in some form of wind symphony, jazz band, or marching band.  I genuinely enjoyed it, otherwise I don't know if I would've contributed so many hours and years to such things.  However, when it came to college, I didn't want to major in music.  "I don't see myself doing this as a profession," I would say, when the real truth was that I didn't see myself doing anything as a profession.  "Why?"  That burning question I could never answer.  I still can't answer.  Perhaps it was lack of perspective, perhaps it was divine providence, or perhaps it was just me.

Okay, back to the present.  I like to talk a lot about "time," or maybe I just like to blog about it quite often.  Perhaps it's because time is the ultimate measure of our humanity.  Perhaps because it is inescapable.  Perhaps it is simply because my most intellectual contemplations happen in the later hours, where I like to dream that those in houses built by their own hands (and some by others) sleep restfully... away from the internal turmoils that weigh me down.  Surely, they, in the comfort of their beds, are immune to such woes.  But coming back to time itself, I realize that this year includes a number of recurring events.

Elevenths: this year marks the eleventh anniversary of my sister's wedding.  They're still happily married (probably more so than when they married, as marriages often go).  I still remember the event pretty clearly, largely because it was the same day I had to take the dreaded SATs.  Talk about a surefire way to drain someone both physically, emotionally, and mentally (not to mention spiritually).  They have three sons, and I wonder if that's what my future holds when I've been married that long: a full and happy family.

Tenths: this year also marks my ten year high school reunion.  If it is hard to imagine my sister having been married for more than ten years, it's even harder to imagine that I've been out of high school for ten years.  I am excited to go, and I'm genuinely looking forward to meeting up with people I haven't seen in such a long time.  It probably helps that I went to a smaller, private school, so my relationship with my class, as a whole, may have been more personal than others' experiences.  I'm friends with many former classmates via social networks, but I'm not sure how accurate that is to describe the semblance of a current "friendship."

Fifths: this year happens to mark my five year anniversary at my current job.  Not just my current employer, but my current position, title, desk, and name placard.  I'll admit that it is relieving to have been employed (and by the same employer) for such a steady length of time.  My job was fairly immune to recent economic falterings, which I'm sure I will greatly appreciate more in the future.  Maybe that's one thing I can expect of my future self.

Fourths: this year marks my four year anniversary of marriage to her.  The astonishing part of married life is that I still, continually, feel like I'm only scratching the surface of this miracle gift.  I genuinely don't know what the future contains for us, but I can only know it will get better.  And I am excited for things to keep getting better year after year.

Firsts: this year marks the arrival of my first niece (if she'll spare her mother and quicken her arrival).  Take note, I may be wrong on the "first niece" part, as I have a terrible habit of not being closely connected to my relatives.  But I'm "pretty" sure that her sister's daughter will be my first niece.  At least, I'll be telling myself that for a little while longer.

The funny thing about the variety of these historically relative events convening in a single time frame is that I could say negative things about each one of them.  I could also say positive things about each one of them.  Time has an interesting way of being similarly biased.  I get asked a lot if I, "like" what I do for a living.  "Does it make you happy?"  But I don't know if it was ever really about happiness.  I'm too much of a pessimist to believe that my job will ever make me fully happy, and I'm too much of an optimist to think that the only thing to look for out of my job (or any job for that matter) is happiness.

Like all things, this is just one small facet of my life.  Good, bad, and in between, I'm thankful for them all.  I can look at my past, and I can look at my future and embrace these elevenths, tenths, fifths, fourths and firsts, while looking forward to tomorrow's twenty-seconds, twentieths, fifteenths, fourteenths, and some larger number of nieces and nephews.  So where do I see myself in five or ten years?  Or how about just one?

I'd like to see myself as being loving and well-loved.  And just like my relationship with her, I expect it will only get better from here and beyond.

All the World's a Stage

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.
 The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot

The mental words of a critical mind lash endlessly against this tired back.
That I, in some regard, might find myself alleviated - or there for lack
Of words, yet words are mine and mine alone;
A secret tome,
With rare solemn respite

Indeed, these words have I written and rewritten.
Upon my tongue and brain both smitten,
But I dared not let them breathe;
Lest my subtle arrogance precede
My mired thoughts and darkened soul

It is not for me to dream, for dreams have I;
Alcoves full and cups to fill the sky.
While stoic facade may appear but restrained,
indeed at times I feel constrained,
As if airy words are less treasured

I do so wish to find my part,
Through writer's pen or brilliant stroke of art.
But no tools have I to silence this longing -
As if a stubborn bell keeps calling,
Hurrying me from home

Stuck in tracks of difficult routine,
I confess I am no Houdini -
It is not for me but to come and go,
With naught but fields of dreams to grow;
A terrible way to live or die

Beneath these weighted words of heavy load I sleep,
A cold and battered blanket upon my burdened feet.


A long time ago when I was contemplating existence with a close friend (at least one so close at the time), I commented idly about how I felt that life did not travel a linear path nor one so simply circular.  No, I mentioned that I believed life traveled in spirals, constantly returning us to moments from our past... but with new perspectives, knowledge, or other such growth.  We might choose to disagree or believe that such self-awareness is never so acutely familiar, but I find it hard to accept.

Curiously, this has become all too true of my own existence, and quite ironically the topic of my first return post.  I have traversed all my old stomping grounds; this blog, and the many others that lay vacant from past seasons.  Indeed, I have seen all too often the promises, dreams, desires, and wishes that have plagued me since time immemorial.  Some embarrassing, some heartwarming, and others quite laughable.

And I, in my spiral stairway, desperately hold onto the hope that I have grown, even if only minimally. Even if only in my perception of self.  I know that ultimately, in some vein physical, emotional, or spiritual, that I do not find myself at familiar crossroads unchanged.  Indeed, even if I wanted to believe that I might find myself crossing old footpaths ignorantly, I cannot bring myself to release the burden of proof.  I have grown.  I have changed.

I have dreamed, and now it is time to lay those dreams to rest.