The air is pregnant with impending snow today, the entire high sky taking on a gray-white hue as though snow were the literal product of such a sky being chipped and chiseled into flaky falling flecks. The radar maps say it’s far away still, but the feel of a person as they walk through our three-dimensional metaphor ought outweigh any technological override. Any moment now, the clear paths and piled yards of my frigid neighborhood will find new comrades, paratrooping in to reinforce their ranks.
I’m back in Highland Park, in Jersey for the foreseeable as I try to make my resolve to improve this year a reality, struggling against the siren call of visits to grocery stores and other overlit places I only ventured to in pairs, or not at all. Each week is to be punctuated with the refuge of a debate tournament, the travel and camaraderie and distraction found therein, the opportunity (as especially this last weekend at Dartmouth) for truly elevated discourse and exploration of ideas. The community of college debaters is such a distillation of intellectual vigor and passion that I am frankly surprised more people do not find themselves gravitationally tied to it as I do. No doubt its periodic overcompetitive acrimony is a deterrent, as might be the distractions of normal life and its beckoning stress and responsibility. But given its unmatched ability to perpetuate thought in an exciting way, there’s no place I’d rather spend time and energy, at least for now.
I’m at a crossroads these next few days, determining how to approach what are likely to be my last few months in New Jersey. There’s a need to reintegrate a three-month novel project into my daily routine without it swallowing everything else whole. There’s a need to determine exactly how much unpacking I want to do for a temporary stint in this apartment, what the ratio of energy is between making things more livable here and making the move unbearable at its conclusion. There’s a need to place other orbital parts of my life in their respective aspects, to figure out where things are going and what good uses of time really are. Priorities, trade-offs, balance, perspective. Really, life is never any different than this – these are always the things one must weigh when looking at existence. It’s merely that most people are too busy to look at existence too often, while I have nothing but time.
I guess I look forward to a time when I feel too constrained by other priorities to examine my own priorities. Although I can see the drawbacks of that too, and I must be careful what I hope to see.
In the spirit of trying to get my engines revved, of trying to buck up and plow through the life-maintenance shlock that must be cleared away to get to the good (creative) stuff, in the theme of embracing a life that is controlled almost entirely by other people but can still be viewed from my own perspective, I will close with a video. It’s one I was sent about a week ago by my friend Michael, one that he said reminded him of me and I say reminds me of who I used to be, long before I ever met him. Who I must be again, or could be, or could take a couple pointers from. While we collect more information about life as it progresses, if we’re paying attention, we don’t always improve. Sometimes we go backwards, we lose vision, we lose touch with what is essential. Here’s hoping this can help you restore, as it does me, at least on the margins: