Turning Invisible 

So, yeah. I'm pathetic. And no, I am not pathetic in the hipsterish, too cool for his own good way. I'm simply pathetic in the aging, not really that important to notice anymore way. It's like I am slowly turning invisible against my will. I'd like to fight it. Hell, I am trying to fight it, but some fights are lost even before they get started.

I'm not sure how I could describe the multitude of thoughts that lead me to the above conclusion, probably because any amount of detail would reveal too much about myself and other people. As for myself, I seem to care less and less these days about how many people perceive me, which is mostly as an epic (but nice enough) loser. But even losers can be noble about wanting to protect other people's privacies, so I keep my damned mouth shut.

The basic problem I seem to have at this exact moment is "wanting" and not "having." And, being who I am, I think about how I could have what I want if I worked really hard for the next several years. Scratch that. There is no guarantee that I could have what I wanted if I worked hard. I guess I mean to say, I could have the chance to get what I wanted. Time will not wait for me to catch up.

I think about how my life got to this point. (Like I always seem to do. This entire blog is nothing but several years of me sifting through the momentary grains of sand that make up my life.) I think about the many, many mistakes I seemed to have made without realizing, of course, they were mistakes at the time they were happening. For example, I should not have ever tried to go to graduate school as English major. It is not for poor kids who don't already have money to burn or powerful connections to exploit. Poor kids with aspirations can usually only hope to be middle class providing they learn a sale-able skill. Not going to graduate school really wouldn't have prevented the mountain of debt I accumulated during my first pass through college, but it might have lessened its overall mountainous size. I also should have realized what was happening in that earlier relationship I was so committed to. I should have simply "let go" years earlier.

And many other thoughts like these about past events. But, then again, like I said, I didn't realize these were mistakes while they were happening. There was no warning bells clearly delineating any of the consequences of making those seemingly small and daily choices. I believed that, if you really want to make something of yourself, to improve your lot in life, you go to college and try to go as far as your brain will take you. I did not know that you could ruin your future with a lifetime of debt. I really did not know that by hanging on a relationship that had long since ended, that was draining me of self-esteem, I would be condemning myself to middle-aged regret and loneliness, and that I would be compounding and reinforcing that condemnation by preventing myself from exploring other, perhaps healthier, relationship opportunities. At the time, I thought I was doing the right thing. I thought I was being faithful, noble, pure in heart, and well-intentioned.

Now, looking back, I try to untangle the Gordian knot with rather old and stiff fingers, tracing each ropey path back to its source, usually discovering another source behind that other source. And slowly, the choices I made begin to look a lot like fate. If I did not know that choice A would lead to consequence B, then how could I have prevented B from happening? If my problem now is that I do not have the means to provide for the people I love, can I trace that back to generations of poverty, systematic economic oppression? Can't anyone in the history of the world can? If yes, then why not also me?

Many of peers have said that I have always had full control over circumstances. And I do recognize that one can have an impact on own's fate. I do feel that one can work to improve their lot in life and try and make the best of things as they are. But, I cannot agree that you can fully choose your own fate. This is not a popular idea in our modern world, where independence and choice is an ultimate virtue. You say things like this and people react emotionally. The truth of the matter is that there have been, and will always be, forces beyond our control that will shape our lives as much (and in some cases, more than) our own choices.

And, for me, this where the frustration has crept in. I do not know how, among all those past mistakes, all those past choices, I could have prevented becoming a lonely middle-aged man in the depths of extreme poverty. Conventional wisdom is that one can control their own fate, and they implicitly mean that one can "fully" control one's own fate. I wish I could agree. I can't. Experience has taught me different.

24 October 2010
Comments: Post a Comment