“Is this FOREVER?” the kid asks, and his dad laughs. We chuckle because we know that it’s such a kid thing to say. It’s easy for kids to think that a present, temporary state will last forever, because they’re not as used to change as we are. They haven’t seen the myriad ways in which what once seemed permanent begins to shift and melt away. People around you pass away, you move, and age, and your body begins to change too without your having any say in it.
This is where I am right now. Constantly asking “Is this going to be FOREVER?” Am at the crux of not knowing whether I am young or old, whether I should be wholly responsible for myself, or still entwined with my family. Law school or grad school or work or what? There aren’t any grades or rules anymore to measure myself by. That’s alternately, simultaneously liberating and frightening. What now? is the question that constantly presents itself. What should I try next? And how to get there?
I’m 24 years old right now. It’s important to stop and think about that, because it’s too easy to watch the days, weeks, and months slip by without being conscious of what substantive things I’ve been able to do in that time. I won’t wait passively for the next big thing, the next ready-made pre-fab Ikea life goal to present itself before deciding what I can be and do in the world.
There is much that is broken in this world. Once you’ve acknowledged this as a truth for you, you have a series of choices. Watch the problems unfold from a distance (until the tide reaches you), run for the nearest shelter and wait for the storm to pass (which it never will. there will always be storms), do what you can to help rectify them. I’ve always said that I don’t need to save the world, change the world. Just make the world a little better in my own small way, every day, in a sustainable way. It might not be enough. It might be a futile gesture, and it will be hard. It might be thankless in the sense of social and financial status. But at least attempt, that’s all we can do. You can choose for yourself what the project of your life will be, which you will never finish. That is the truth, you endlessly optimistic Americans. But it’s ok. Choose what will give you meaning, or make meaning for yourself.