April 12, 2011 § 3 Comments

Remember those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books? The ones where there was a bit of plot and then you, the main character, chose your path throughout the story in a series of multiple-choice questions until you either “won” or were eaten by a dragon in a lava pit or something? I always cheated when I read those. Always. I’d flip ahead and see that picking B. meant I’d be filleted by a thousand tiny swords from behind the booby trapped picture and instead, I’d pick C. Anyways, what I am getting at is that I think this was some kind of foreshadowing of my total inability to make a decision as an adult-type person.

I don’t make decisions as much as I sign legally binding contracts so that I am eventually forced into a certain path. See J. circa one year ago, when I was actually a soon-to-be-recent graduate. I thought I’d move to Toronto (long story) and then that didn’t really work out (longer story) so I was pretty torn between moving home (person I loved) and staying here (possibly achieving some semblance of actual person-hood). Naturally, I subletted pretty much the first apartment I looked at and signed a lease. Then I left the realtors’ office and cried and cried until I got a nosebleed and then I cried some more. The rest, they say, is history. Things really, really sucked for a while and I cried to the point of nosebleed many times over but then I also met all you lovely people and things really, really stopped sucking and turned out more than okay. So, when the time came to make another decision and choose a graduate school, I was all “eeney, meeny, miney, renewing the lease on this apartment and installing curtains.” Because it’s great; I have friends I love, and my home state is all snuggled up there on the west coast of Massachusetts, and I don’t have to disassemble my dresser and make it any more broken than it currently is. So why, why, why I ask you, must I constantly worry that there is a choice C. or D. that is secretly the right path and that I’m just building to the part where I’m eaten by the abominable snowman? Am I selfish to wish I, like so many others, had fewer and/or no choices and is this why I then necessitate this possibility by making other, indirect choices? (i.e. not really choosing a grad school, but renewing the lease on the apartment in the city which only one grad school is based) Is this why people join the Peace Corps?

Anyways, I picked this picture of these pandas because I think mostly, I get hung up on this idea that there is supposed to be more. Fuckin’ Maslow and your heirarchy of needs pyramid and your stupid self-actualization, I blame you. Isn’t just being a person and discovering that the pants you put on have a giant hole in the ass long after you left the house hard enough without the overwhelming sense that the life you’re living isn’t existentially good enough and maybe you could be the type of person who never discovers mysterious holes in anything (except for possibly at the beach when they are filled with treasure) if only you could try a little harder and if you only knew exactly what you were trying for?

Think, and then keep thinking, and then overthink to the point of total exhaustion so you fall over, which is a little like jumping but not quite.



§ 3 Responses to

  • M says:

    Man, I hate to spoil it for you but so it is – that abominable snowman, if he’s out for you, is hiding at the end of every page no matter which choice you pick. I found this out the hard way, but through a different process of elimination called “make a bunch of choices, start to live them, realize what the fuck’s coming, run away and make a bunch of different choices and live those instead but what’s that STILL coming at me?”

    There’s no way around the living or the feeling that what you’re living or about to live isn’t “right”. That will always be there to some extent because you’re the kind of person (and it’s a good kind) who’s always asking and wondering. The only way to know with fundamental certainty that what you’re doing is right is to shut off the best part of your brain, get in the standard life line with everyone else and start listening to different music. And for fuck’s sake, stop reading David Foster Wallace.

    The bittersweet part of being so close to you young folks is watching you struggle with these really big things that, trust me, aren’t as big as you think, while also watching you blithely ignore some little things that eventually, trust me, aren’t as little as you think. It’s beautiful and funny and sad and scary (because I’m no further along, just older and with a little more road wisdom), and I wish I could wrap you all in snuggies and reassure you that you’re doing it just right and to keep going. At the end, this is all your life, too, just as much as if not more than the stuff you’re trying to get to.


  • A says:

    (Okay, this song is probably mostly about abortion, but let’s just focus on the whole “making choices” part.)

    This song makes me cry for all the things that you lose when you choose something else. But it also feels so hopeful and joyful just for taking a moment to love the thing you never chose. And it lets you feel the endless sadness and loss at the same time that you feel this relief that there’s also a beauty in not having everything and being left wanting. Or something like that.

    It’s been a long, long time.
    How are you?
    Your eyes are green. Your hair is gold.
    Your hair is black. Your eyes are blue.
    I closed the ranks, and I doubled back,
    but, you know, I hated to close
    the door on you.

  • J. says:

    1. True. And I suppose the alternative to always thinking and wondering and even sometimes possibly over-analyzing is…Snooki? So, I’ll just stick with reading actual books and listening to actual music, even if that means I end up crying and squishing Harpo sometimes. That’s what he’s there for.

    2. Speaking of crying and squishing Harpo, I haven’t listened to much Joanna Newsom and certainly haven’t heard that song until now but, dang. It’s really beautiful and does all those things you said it does. Even if it is about abortion (if I can pretend some of my favorite songs aren’t actually about Jesus, I can put that aside too) it also completely fits with everything that happens to be going on today which is all weighing heavily and will inevitably lead to some extreme cat-hugging. Hooray!


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