Maybe it shouldn’t come as a surprise that, when you let your guard down, life has a way of sneaking up on you unawares, and before you know it, you’ve become exactly that which you promised so long ago to never be.
I recently started reading Wind, Sand, and Stars, Antoine de Saint-Exepury’s memoir. Being the author of what has come to be my favorite and most-read book (The Little Prince, which only in the past few years has edged out Brave New World for number of times read), I figured it was nigh time to read another of his works. His life is a fascinating one, for sure: just see his wikipedia entry. Anyway, WSS has not disappointed, hitting me early with this gem of a paragraph:
No one ever helped you to escape. You, like a termite, built your peace by blocking up with cement every chink and cranny through which the light might pierce. You rolled yourself up into a ball in your genteel security, in routine, in the stifling conventions of provincial life, raising a modest rampart against the winds and the tides and the stars. You have chosen not to be perturbed by great problems, having trouble enough to forget your own fate as man…. Now the clay of which you were shaped has dried and hardened, and naught in you will ever awaken the sleeping musician, the poet, the astronomer that possibly inhabited you in the beginning.
I’d be lying if said loneliness isn’t a part of this. It seems like all my friends are getting married these days, which really isn’t surprising, given how old we are now. But maybe it should surprise me that I, the perpetual laggard, just never seemed to have grown up and gotten with the program. Am I still not the same teenager who was scared of girls, who couldn’t convey his emotions, who defiantly defended loneliness because it was the easy way out, but now am at an age where it’s changed from pathetic to absurd? I hide under thicker and thicker layers of metaphysical confusion, asking large but ultimately futile questions. Somehow, the easiest person for me to fool is myself.
At this point, my life is cruising on autopilot when it really needs a hard shove. It’s so easy to hide behind the untouchable beauty of ballet, and say that this is all I need. But doesn’t it still feel a little hollow? Partnering isn’t love, and the stage isn’t real life. I know that I am improving little by little, but am I truly growing? Of course, in the beginning, it was a big step and a worthy challenge; but now even the difficulties of trying to improve or stay in shape aren’t true challenges because they have fallen into the routine.
I say I’m getting too complacent at work, but do I do anything about it? Maybe little things like taking on more responsibility, but the fundamental problem remains, and I’m too comfortable and lazy to do what I need. It’s hard to argue that my job isn’t great and I get paid more than I probably deserve or need, yet I find myself in the trap of wondering if I make enough to ever be able to afford a house in the area. And it takes a little more effort each year to convince myself that we’re doing something meaningful to change the world, and not just driving to increase revenue and growth.
It takes new blood to reinvigorate, but perhaps I’ve grown too old to hunt. Maybe it’s time to blow everything up and start anew. Or maybe I’ll just hide behind these words.