Losing the Way

I’m in a rather contemplative mood at the moment. I suppose I’m always kind of in a contemplative mood at some level, given my perhaps overdeveloped self-awareness (and/or self-consciousness), but tonight it’s especially palpable. And for good reason: touched off by a vague feeling of dissatisfaction (whether valid or not) with my life’s accomplishments – personal and professional – thus far, I started thinking more deeply about my past and what’s led me to this point in my present.

Somehow, that wound up with me looking back at old text files on my computer, files with scraps of writing and poetry of mine from as far back as 1996… half-finished book ideas, paragraphs of introduction to stories that never got the attention they deserved, lines of verse of varying quality but with relatively consistent themes… even files that contain nothing but a single sentence – or even just a title – that nevertheless managed to convey (to my own brain, at least) where I wanted to go from there.

I know what you’re thinking (you anonymous reader, you). You’re thinking that my little foray into the depths of my hard drive has me regretting all those ideas that I never went anywhere with, that I’m wistfully wondering why I even then, 12 years ago or more, could seemingly never start something and finish it. And you’d be partially right. Especially in light of my recent posts on the concept of failure – and reflecting Natasha’s spot-on comment about “inertia” – I do feel a bit like a broken record that keeps going over the same groove but never gets anywhere worthwhile.

That’s not really it, though, or not all of it. I enjoyed reading what I wrote back then, after all, and if I start to ask myself why I didn’t continue with some of it, I just tell myself, truthfully, that I wasn’t ready to, that they were great ideas but ones that I – in all honesty – probably didn’t know how to fully give life to at the time, that today I have more of the skills and knowledge and experience to convincingly translate those ideas into “reality.” I can still take those ideas and run with them, so to speak.

The real problem is that in reading through my past writings, seeing those ideas again brought to light and interpreting them through the lens of my mind of today, I wonder not so much why I didn’t do more with them when I first thought of them… I wonder, instead, where I’ve been since then. Where’d the “me” who wrote those book ideas and introductory paragraphs and lines of verse and story titles go? Why haven’t I looked at them before now and – perhaps more importantly – why did so many of them seem so new? Why – for a person who always prided himself on his imagination and his sense of fantasy and wonder – do they all seem so far away, like ancient history?

Have I really let myself become so absorbed in the inanity of the present – the rat race of everyday reality and the focus on all the pointless minutiae of modern society – that I forgot about all those worlds and stories and characters of my childhood and early teenaged imaginings? How did my mind get so clouded by a daily routine that I lost sight of the fantasies within, the ones that – when I was younger – mattered more to me than anything?

When did I lose my way?

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