Tomorrow is my birthday. (Although WordPress has seen fit to date this post for tomorrow instead of today…?)
There. I said it. I never admit it when the time of year comes around, though. The whole… revelation feels awkward and like it’s fishing for compliments or something. It comes off as some form of bragging to me. I understand not everyone feels that way. It’s cool. I don’t begrudge you that. (Oddly, I have little trouble confessing to others how good of a writer I think I am, but that’s another story.)
Some people find birthdays celebratory. Others, depressing. I usually oscillate between the two, ending with some mix of both. This year, though, my birthday brings to the fore my subconscious sense of failure. Things unaccomplished that easily could’ve been if I’d tried harder. Or if I’d tried at all. Mistakes I shouldn’t have made if I’d used better judgment. Opportunities lost because I hesitated or was afraid. Emotions I lost control of and still struggle to figure out.
Just a few days ago, I was feeling good. Maybe even happy. Better than I’ve felt all year, and that’s no exaggeration. Then it all came crashing down for a reason I’d rather not get into, but suffice to say was not supposed to be terrible at all. My world tilted, and I’ve been flailing about since. To compound the problem, life at home has taken an abrupt, ugly turn and I find myself wishing I could be anywhere else but home.
I’ve struggled for weeks, for months to find the words. The words of a writer, of the writer I know I am and the writer I really really need to be. I’ve wrestled with the ever-growing fear that maybe I have nothing to say, and there’s nothing worse than a writer who writes nothing. I’m not really talking about writer’s block, either. No, this is a different creature. This is a matter of “who cares?” When I say a writer who writes nothing, I mean a writer who writes vacuousness. And I don’t mean bad writing, either. By and large, the idea of good and bad writing rests with the reader, not the writer. Only the writer can judge if what was written was worthwhile or without purpose.
I’ve struggled for weeks, for months to find or even manufacture the will to care. About myself–my health and my future. About the people who… who matter to me. I’ve fought to take hold of my life and not simply drift aimless in the deeps, to care about consequences and about rewards too, choices made and missed and decisions still to come. I’ve fractured every friendship I ever made. Through callousness, through insult and insensitivity, through simple neglect. Worse, I’ve lacked the fortitude to even try making amends. But also, I haven’t really… cared. And to care requires passion and energy and awareness and even self-love. Things I’ve only had passing contact with since before the year began.
I make no excuses. I ask for no pity or sympathy. Hell, I’m not even trying to explain anything. I’m just battling to find my words. But please, forgive my rampant use of cliché. I imagine it may cheapen the things I’m saying or cast doubt on what I’m trying to convey. Sometimes, though, we can only fall back on the words that come quickest–if no others come forward. I wanted to say something. I needed to, and it didn’t really matter how the words spilled out.
I always knew where each bad choice would lead. I wasn’t blind or ignorant. I knew I was driving myself toward solitude and alienation, toward stagnancy. I knew. And I never lost sight of the promises I made and failed to carry through–or even actively steered away from. I can offer no reasonable defense except that I didn’t care.
But I was blind to one thing.
There is no going back. There’s no return to yesteryear, to the days When Life Was Better. I can’t recapture my youth. I can never be the boy I used to be. I can’t even mourn him, because I can’t even reminisce him. I’ve tried. It doesn’t work. The past is gone, and all the promise it held. What’s left is what stands here right now. And… it’s something, too. I’m someone. I can be more. It’s… it’s not too late. Is it? So much wasted. So many bridges burning. Relationships left for dead. I can’t outrun the life I’ve created, not even for a day. But I think I can still run toward the creation of something new, something I know was supposed to be. I think. Tomorrow is my birthday. That’s unavoidable. But what will it bring?