Twelve Years

12years212 years. 144 months. 624 weeks. 4,380 days.

105,120 hours. 6,307,200 minutes.

These are much more than numbers. With each rotation around the sun, I’m reminded of my station. Every year is a bookmark in a story I never want to finish. These tallies are visual representations of the time spent away from risk, pain, and peril. They are universal stamps of approval, affirming that I made the right decision to carry on with this crazy experiment called life.

It would have been easy to wave that white flag during the downpour. When every ounce of optimism was depleted, when every cell screamed at me to stop, and when the self-inflicted psychological torture far exceeded any physical pain, I could have stepped off the train. I didn’t have to subject my body and brain to an uncertain future on a path laden with land mines.

The impetus to fight instinct came from those hidden recesses we haven’t quite been able to classify. It’s grit and gumption mixed with tireless tenacity, and the sum total of those efforts is twelve years of health, hope, and possibility.

Perspective is a funny thing. A life-or-death seesaw frames the simplest joys as monumental, celebratory occasions. Laughable moments of triumph—like walking unassisted in a hallway or finishing a full meal—demand a chorus of applause. Existence reverts to its most basic form. There is an appreciation for every waking second without pain.

The further we travel from that precarious road, the more comfortable we become taking everything for granted. Health becomes something expected, and pain takes its residence in layers of memory. Stress is assigned to daily worry, future projections, or mundane tasks on infinite checklists. The brain is designed to recover from previous trauma, so it feels easy to forget what is truly important…until we are reminded again.

I rode that boomerang for a long time. As difficult as things have been in this carnivorous city, and as much as my time is occupied by the weight of wonder, there is no comparison to the very real and immediate threat of losing everything.

So I am grateful for all twelve of those planetary revolutions, and I will continue my search for greater peace of mind inside that perspective.

Adolescence Interrupted

Advertisements

The Keys to the Kingdom Can’t Open All the Locks

SONY DSC

Being born a white, middle class American male undoubtedly comes with a limitless bounty of benefits. The struggles that most modern human beings have to face on a daily basis make the insignificance of any routine discontent seem laughable. On a macroscopic scale, this dichotomy is even more ridiculous.

As Eddie Vedder so aptly chanted, “He won the lottery by being born. Big hand slapped a white male American.”

But the only reality we know is our own, and perception can be a wily thing. I look at the daggers I’ve dodged, the nearly-impossible summits I’ve reached, and the countless pitfalls I’ve leapt, and I wonder exactly what that lottery ticket looks like. As I find myself standing back at the starting line for the umpteenth time, I can only imagine what this fight would feel like wearing a different color skin, in a different city, or without the love and support of friends and family to provide emotional safety nets along the line.

Surviving in today’s world is like walking through an infinite corridor, following a flash of light somewhere in the distance. Unfortunately, without warning, random pieces of the floor can disappear beneath your feet and occasionally massive boulders chase behind you in some theme park-replicated Indiana Jones living nightmare. It’s a wonder any of us make it through life…alive.

Questions and concerns, worries and wonder. There’s a lot taking up valuable brain real estate. We have self-constructed familial and social circles, and we spin inside those centrifuges, hoping that the sediment will settle. But being dizzy is a big part of those passage rites, regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic position.

We’re all just doing our best not to wobble and fall, one shaky and carefully-planted step at a time.

Adolescence Interrupted