The first chapter of the new year just happens to coincide with being the 100th chapter I’ve ever written. It could be coincidence, but I could just be a bastard.
Ta-oof-Sam dot com
It’s been a year since I started writing again. I wrote religiously my first year of college, however at some point I petered out and stopped posting anything at all. I’d continue to write the occasional story or rant and save them to a dark and mysterious corner of My Documents, only to read over them again and again; but that’s why I write.
My posting frequency is roughly correlated with how much free time I have to dwell on things. My thought process is sort of like making a pot of homemade stew. If you just look at the ingredients it’s all rubbish, sort of junk floating around without any sort of consistent culinary theme. However, when you put it all together and let it sit and combine so that the flavors sort of blend together, it can turn into quite the tasty dinner. I need time to let the thoughts coalesce into something that’s worth putting in notepad, partially explaining the three year gap in the written record.
It wasn’t that nothing interesting happened during my sophomore through senior year; quite the contrary. I was just too busy living it to dwell on it. I try not to run through the events of my week or to give summaries of my weekends, instead I always aim to tell a story. Sometimes, however, it’s useful to take a step back and think about what it all means.
OPI: Old People Introspection
I have a philosophy about being self-contemplative that I like to call “grandfather introspection”. A grandfather has a number of sons, and each of his sons has a number of sons as well. Likewise, a year has so many months, and each of those months has so many weeks, etc. Each son takes care of himself, the fathers take care of all of their sons, and the grandfather gets to look after the lot of them.
At the end of every day you summarize your experiance in your mind. Was it a good day? What can this day teach you about future days? At the end of the week, summarize the week. At the end of the month, think about the month. Finally, when you get to the end of the year, you get to the grandfather summary.
A kids job is easy; he just looks after himself and can worry about the consequences later. The father has a harder job keeping the kids in line, but the grandfather has the ultimate role. His job is to provide wisdom and insight to everyone, to be the keeper of Common Sense and the provider of Perspective. That’s why the yearly summary is so hard. Each day can be summed up simply: “Made it to work on time, cute girl smiled at me, skipped the gym, Colbert was awesome”. Weeks into months into the year and suddenly you’re combining long running undercurrents and summarizing major lasting relationships into a sentence.
Get with the Grandfather Summary
I’m kind of a Buddhist in how I approach the good and bad in the day to day. The ‘bad’s I marginalize, the ‘good’s I italicize and underline. Subsequently it makes being honest with myself occasionally quite hard, especially when the subject of my self-honesty isn’t as good as I’d like to pretend it is. My self-summary of how the year went is quite aptly described by, you guessed it, an analogy.
My family sends out a yearly Christmas Card in newsletter format, with each major trip or move having a subsection. Each family member also has a summary of the major happenings during the last twelve months, along with a quick recap of where they are and what they’re doing. This presented me with two problems.
The first problem concerned a certain girl that I’ve been known to spend a lot of time with. She was featured in our last Christmas Card (she even had a picture) and my parents included her in the first draft of this one. There isn’t a simple way to explain the complexity of our relationship in the couple lines I had to work with, and nothing I wrote seemed to do it justice. The world seems averse to the idea of taking a break from dating but still remaining best friends. What are the requirements for someone’s inclusion in a Christmas Card? I don’t list my other friends, should she get her own category? Girlfriend-turned-bestfriend-but-not-out-for-the-count?
It turns out my powers of reason and rationality aren’t all they’re cracked up to be; I wasn’t happy with any of the options and in the end I just left her out. I had the same problems writing about her there as I do writing about her here. All of these words are a form of public announcement, and at the time I didn’t feel comfortable making one.
The other problem related to my brothers. Both my brothers have been quite active; my brother Ed took a semester abroad in Athens and is involved in a lot of travel and activities in Boston, and my brother Monty does multiple sports, wins awards at various activities and is applying to college. I work at the Patent Office, go on the occasional weekend adventure and enjoy long walks through Wikipedia. In strictly number-of-line terms, my section was the shortest of the Christmas Card. While this number might be meaningless, it spoke a lot to me. I always have and always will measure myself by my stories.
There you have it. Not enough stories and no girl in the Christmas Card.
I don’t know a better summary than that.