I'll be twenty five years old in one month and eleven days. Twenty five years old doesn't sound like much- until I reframe it as fully a quarter of a hundred years. It's a sobering thought, for me at least. There was a time when the average life-span wasn't much longer than this. I reflect on everything I've lived, seen, done, experienced, failed at. I try and be grateful for it all- it's what brought me to where I am today. Amor Fati. I see the narrative threads that twist and curve and weave together, I see the transitions between different periods of my life as starkly as a black and white photo. The real thing was messier, of course. But any narrative we tell is basically all made up anyway so I might as well make it a better story.
Several months ago I was talking to someone who explained how, a bit more than ten years ago, he left his comfortable corporate job- he was on a fast track to run the company in a few years- he left it to travel the world and follow his bliss. What he said was striking was that, after twenty years working at this company, he almost never thought of it. It was where he spent at least half of his waking hours most days for two decades. He said he thought of his time there maybe twice a year- basically only when someone asked him about it. Could this be called lost time?
Lost time. Time when you're not really there, not present, only doing the thing to actually do something else entirely. Because it affords a certain lifestyle or level of comfort. I think about all of my lost time in my nearly quarter century of life. Too much. A lot of it in school. And some other things, of course. Baseball. Middle school band, piano lessons. Watching shit TV shows and masturbating to porn. A decent amount of the work I've done professionally. Some of the people I used to hang out with. I'm not trying to say this time was worthless at all. Just that I don't think about it. I didn't learn or grow from them, beyond "I shouldn't do any more of that". I didn't add value to the world in doing these things- at least, I didn't feel like I did.
And then there are the people, places, times, experiences that my thoughts return to often. That seem to define me, make me who I am. Through which I discovered/created myself. If we have lost time, perhaps this could be called found time. What makes the difference between the two? Not a question I'm going to answer here.
This found time accumulates around the various fragments of my identity, like iron shavings to a magnet. The lost time, soft and dull, seems to drift away in the ether. I'm not sure I miss it.
Each identity fragment is like a magnetic pole attracting new people, experiences, learnings. Slowly accumulating poles. Perhaps that explains why some people seem complex, nuanced, and multifaceted while others seem one-dimensional. The more magnetized poles of energy one has, the more magnetic they seem in comparison. We've all met people who can only ever talk about their one thing: their business or job, their love life, their single hobby. It is hard to spend a lot of time around them.
My first pole was probably my obsession with reading. Then it was videogames, leading ultimately to their renunciation. Then university, and four years of painfully blissful/blissfully painful self-discovery and exploration. Activism, veganism, barefoot running, cycling, Engineers Without Borders, the Second Wind coffeeshop, girls, Spanish, Study Abroad, the Honors College, Don Quijote, reading groups, backpacking, machine shops, Da Vinci, Vonnegut, Hemingway, shit Mechanical Engineering professors, wonderful Environmental Engineering professors.
After that it was my year working at the Economic Development department of my university. Feeling painfully inadequate, like everyone hated me for doing horribly. Learning to take action, to lead, to execute. Actually learning how to learn, reflect, and act. Learning Praxis through Agile and Lean Startup.
Launching my business was the next, coupled perhaps with the subsequent wandering its slow progress invited. Standing on my own two feet, ready for the fight. A summer accelerator. Trying unsuccessfully to launch a language immersion dorm at the University (my accomplice and I were shut down after making tantalizing progress). Working from coffee shops, living leanly, living in a truck. Spinning our wheels. Souring into frustration, aimlessness. Wanderings of all kinds- spiritual, mental, physical, geographic. Across Europe, to Bangladesh. Faded, latent dreams chased down, that slipped ever more elusively away the closer they became. More girls. And writing, yes, the outlet of writing. An outlet for more ramblings and wanderings. Errare, Italian, meaning both to err and to wander. But how I learned!
Currently I feel a new pole slowly charging, polarizing, accumulating energy- my experience with Ars Amorata and my exploration of how I connect with those around me. Exploring curiosity, presence, charisma, aliveness, masculinity, femininity. I don't know how long this pole will take to magnetize. Probably years. I have an idea of what that could entail, and what might be next. But looking back at my nearly-quarter-of-a-century so neatly summarized, and all the unexpected swerves it entailed, I would probably be wrong. But I am looking forward to the adventure.
Dillon Dakota Carroll
...sees much and knows much