Saturday, May 4, 2013

I need to express something.  And to do it I'm going to spout a long meandering diatribe that could be summed up by the following sentence  I'm feeling very uncertain about my future and that uncertainty is breeding within me a great deal of angst.

When I was very young my dream was to be a Preacher.  I loved God, and was enthralled with spirituality and I thought there could be nothing better than delving into the mysteries of the ethereal and imparting my heavenly wisdom to the masses. I spent many many hours alone, seeking God through prayer and reading the Bible

Then I went to school and found I also possessed a powerful fondness for learning. There was so much about the world beckoning to be revealed. I certainly appreciated the maths and sciences, but even more compelling were literature and philosophy.  So many inspiring stories and fascinating paradigms that lent so many beautiful new shades of meaning to the poignant spiritual experiences that had given rise from my zealous, yet staunch religious practice. 

Eventually the tenants of Christianity began to constrict my intellectual sensibilities. The notion of believer vs unbeliever seemed unnecessarily exclusive.  The elevated position of the Bible as a uniquely inspired and authoritative text felt too limiting and in general I grew disenchanted with the whole Jewish-oriented narrative of God's intervention with mankind. It was a heart-wrenching process.  I cannot express how deeply I cherished my religious upbringing: the long hours of basking in the ethereal bliss of God's intimate presence, the lofty purpose and fiery passions it inspired in me and discipline it helped me cultivate. I was a crab outgrowing the only home he'd ever known, becoming exposed to terrifying uncertainties without not a clue which direction would lead me to my next sanctuary.

Having accepted that no Church would take an apostate as their pastor I briefly looked into a career in academics. After all, I loved being in college, so what better career to pursue than one that would keep me there for the rest of my life.  This dream was short-lived as it quickly donned on me that as best I was just slightly above-average in undergraduate school, which is bottom of the class in Graduate school that in our present economy, even the top scholars from the top schools were begging for temp positions at community colleges.  Although I thoroughly enjoyed gleaning insights from reading the subject matter, I didn't experience the necessary spiritual passion required to endure the arduous deconstructions a reconstructions of minute passages and I simply did not have the energy to maintain the course-load.

In the back of my mind there's always been this fantasy of being a writer, however in the front of my mind there's always been a need for money.  Enough to live off anyways.  And as comfortable as I feel putting words to paper, I've never been much of a story teller and I seriously doubt my ability to hash together the kind of literature that actually generates income. 

I had a best friend back then and we had all kinds of grand schemes to for world domination.  Eventually we found a way to make money and I thought, maybe if things go well, I can make enough money to retire early and spend the rest of my life traveling and writing.  But things didn't go well.  We got girlfriends and things got complicated.  Then we broke up with our girlfriends and things got really complicated.   We split ways last year and haven't spoken since. 

My plan since then was this: make enough money to move to another country and start another life.  I decided I come to Thailand and teach English.  Then I'd get a masters degree in teaching English and teach other people how to teach English and live out a slightly modified version of my dream of be a professor.  It would be a much more humble existence than my previous dreams of revival pastor, prestigious professor, or dominant entrepenuer, but I'd get to learn another language and culture and I'd live in an academic setting and by that time I just really needed to get out of town.

I came sooo fucking close. I made the money, I came to Thailand, I got my TEFL certificate, everything seemed like it going according to plan. I just made one crucial little mistake: I invited my ex-girlfriend from home out to visit me.  At the time I had no idea what I had done.  It was just a supposed to be a little two week vacation, have little fun with a familiar face before starting my new life.  I didn't understand the wiles of women. It never occurred to me that I had issued some kind of primeval mating challenge. I just thought it'd be nice. And to be honest, I felt just a twinge guilty for leaving her behind.

The conflict began before she even arrived.  She decided she'd be coming a week earlier than planned.  If that was a problem for me, she said she could just "Travel around by myself for a bit".  Right then and there I should have held my ground and told her, yea it would be a problem and yea, she should probably do just that. The TEFL course was far more grueling than I anticipated and I had really been looking forward to the week and half just exploring my new home with my new friends from the course.  But I'm a goddamned weakling, and I figured, fuck it, its just an extra 10 days. I'll have the rest of my life when she leaves.

It honestly never occurred to me that her plan was to never leave.  And what was I supposed to say after we'd been traveling for a week and she told me she actually wasn't flying back for two months? "If that's a problem I'll just travel by myself.."  Yes!! That's a fucking problem!! That was not the plan!!! ... Is what I should have said.  Instead I dealt with it somewhat passive aggressively.   I became aloof and tried to her as we were traveling that I needed a little more space.  This did not go over well.  Every time I tried to create some distance between us she freaked-the-fuck out. "YOU WANT SPACE?! HAVE ALL THE SPACE YOU NEED! FUCK YOU! WHY DID YOU EVEN INVITE ME OUT HERE?! YOU NEVER SHOULD HAVE INVITED ME!!"

damn right, I shouldn't have. I didn't know what to do.  This wasn't just a girlfriend, this was one of the best friends I've ever had.  I genuinely valued our friendship. I don't have many friends and I really didn't want to lose this one.  I know I'm a fucking idiot for thinking you can stay friends with your ex, but I really really wanted it, I decided I was willing to do the time (two months) to make it work.

Except life doesn't work like that, and when you're heart's not in it, sooner or later you fuck up.  And I fucked up.  Things had begun to get rockier and we started fighting more frequently.  I had stayed in contact with my ex ex who was still back home and I straight up lied about it.  It really wasn't anything serious, occasional emails, very very slight flirting, she had broken up with her current boyfriend, I mentioned the recent fighting.  It was inappropriate and I regret it.

The emails were discovered and shit hit the fan.  I should counted it as providence, took my losses, and left it at that.  Of course I couldn't do that. I was wracked with guilt and couldn't stand the thought of being responsible for so much pain and suffering.  I just HAD to fix it.  Even if it meant tacking another two months onto my roll sheet.

I should mention that somewhere in all of this, one of the investments I made back in the day experienced a black swan-type event and skyrocketed through the roof.  All of a sudden a whole new horizon of lifestyle opportunities were becoming available to me. I began to doubt if teaching English was really for me.  Also, despite the occasional disagreement, me and the girl actually got along really well and the vast majority of the time we shared was an absolute blast.  So while I certainly wasn't comfortable with the way she had latched herself onto what was supposed to be my own adventure, I wasn't nearly as concerned about it as I might have been.

Anyway, I somehow managed to convince her to 'forgive' me (She never actually got over it) and we made plans for another 6 weeks of adventure together.

The whole thing was an act of desperation.  I found myself feeling more and more trapped.  She had absolutely zero trust in me.  I couldn't so much as glance at another woman without her jumping at my throat and I my patience was bottoming out.  Every time we had the smallest conflict she'd jump straight to assumptions about my ex ex, and I found more and more reasons to start conflicts.  It certainly didn't help that in the middle of it all my beautiful 'black swan' investment that was going to have me set for life, completely tanked and now I really was going to have to get a job again.

We managed to make it 3 more weeks before we were both through.  She said she wanted to go home, and I wasn't about to put up a fight.  I escorted her back to Bangkok 3 weeks ago and haven't heard from her since.

So that's how I got here and this is my problem: What the fuck do I do now?  Even if the school semester wasn't already long past, there's no way I can stay here.  This whole fucking region has been dowsed with painful emotions.  I really really cared about this girl, we traveled together for nearly four months, not to mention the 7 or so months we were together before that, we made tons of memories and now everything here is just a glaring reminder that she hates me and never intends to speak to me again.  I have to leave.  But where am I going to go and what am I going to do?

Back during the couple weeks that I thought I was rich I figured I could just set up some kind of fund that would generate enough revenue to just travel and write but now that's no longer an option.

I feel like shit.  I have no idea what I'm going.  I have no friends, nobody to talk to. My relationship with my family has always been distant, but I'm heading back to the states because I need to get my head straight and I'm going fucking crazy here.  I just want to find a community that I'd fit with. 

As of now, my general plan is that after I get some business taken care of at home I'll go volunteer hopping through-out Latin America.  Volunteering, partly because I feel like I need to cleanse my soul and partly because cheap travel? Latin America because my Spanish isn't horrible and I love Mexican food (two big advantages over any place in Asia).  I just pray to God I can find a place that somewhat suits me.  Which is seriously a long-shot considering I have no idea what I'm actually looking for.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

My existential dilemma

Like many people, I often (perhaps too often) find myself clawing against the age-old existential crisis: why am I here? and what is it all for? Usually I come up the same answer we all do: "Hey! Get your ass out of bed and get to work! We've got bills to pay! kids to feed! (and hopefully) dreams to achieve!"

But every-once in a while I can't escape this dangerous sensation that maybe life is just a distraction from the fact that we're already dead and maybe it's about time we gave ourselves a little show.

I'm not trying to play Hamlet or anything here, I'm just saying that sometimes it feels like every single moment can boil down to an awfully redundant choice between 'life' or 'death'.  And it just doesn't seem right that in every single instance where I care about who I am, I'm obliged to choose "life".  I guess sometimes I just find  myself tempted by one of those forbidden "what ifs?"

Like, what if the person I'd always told myself I wanted be was the person I am right now?  And maybe this moment is, in fact, all that there really is, or ever has been for that matter.  And maybe I should just take a second, one tiny little second, and actually try to appreciate everything this single moment has to offer me.

And then maybe all my hopes and dreams can go on without me while I stay here and just for this one infinitesimal fraction of a second imagine that, "you know what? maybe its ok for existence to just be this one single instance of completeness." Maybe this moment is the exact moment I was created for. Doesn't it just make such perfect sense?  Have you ever experienced anything more beautiful than the moment you're in right now? Just take a peak: Behold the entire universe!! Right here!! Right now!! This. This. THIS! THIS!!!!!!!

Nothing more please. I'm quite satisfied here. Yes, that's it for me. I'd like to get off the train now. I believe this is my stop. Hello? Existence? Who's running this thing?

Oh.. right.. its Me. 

And I'm still here.

And those are my old hopes and dreams. Just over there.

And between us stand this paralyzing question

"what if?"