moments worth living for
fate can change your life, but i'm sick of waiting for him
by jeffrey d. walker
I’ve heard it said that life is basically a series of high points and low points connected by long stretches of idleness.
Actually, I don’t know if I’ve heard that exact statement, but I’ve heard something like it before. I can’t remember who said it, but I am fairly certain that it wasn’t anyone I know. I’m totally certain, though, that I’m not going to do the research to find out who did make it up, because it has no relevance to this story.
What matters is that, for all practical purposes, I agree with that statement. And I’m pretty sure that whoever said it was referring to something more than the usual daily ups and downs. For the most part, people have daily routines, some more monotonous than others. I’d imagine that a letter carrier who's had the same route for several years has a more boring routine than that of an international supermodel. Of course, having never been in either of those professions, I could be completely wrong: what with the whole anthrax thing, and the likelihood of a co-worker bringing an assault rifle to work high enough to have its own phrase ( “going postal”), a letter carrier may be the most action-packed career going. But I digress…
Bigger than the ins and outs of the average day, bigger than the satisfaction of a paycheck at the end of the week, bigger even than the season finale of "Friends," there are moments in life that are so poignant that they leave an indelible mark. Some of these events are so colossal, you may never possess the capacity to fully appreciate them.
Sometimes I look back on the moments that seriously altered my life in one direction or another. I think about the motorcycle accident I had in eighth grade. I’ve never liked organized religion, but that day made me believe beyond a doubt that there is a force greater than I am. I remember the moment that I decided to be a musician. That occurrence has evolved over fourteen years into something just short of an obsession. I remember the first time I saw a naked girl. I wasn’t exactly sure what I was looking at or how it worked, but I was sure curious. I’m absolutely positive that I’ll never understand exactly how much that moment affected me, but I can certainly say this: I’ve never gotten over it.
I would go so far as to say that moments like these are the ones that make a life worth living. And I’m also sure that someone has said that before, but I’m not going to do the research on that one either. It’s just not the point. However you may label these moments in your life, they exist. True, some people are lucky enough to get really incredible ones, like winning the lottery, while others get the short end of the stick, like an envelope full of anthrax. Whichever way the particular moment goes for you, you’ll likely never see it coming. There’s hardly any way to prepare, nor typically is there any way to be absolutely sure of the ramifications. Essentially, we’re all sitting ducks lined up in the crosshairs of fate.
I don’t think any of this comes as a surprise to anyone. A person that has had a life-altering event surely has taken the time to reflect on it, and has recognized the weight that a simple, unforeseeable moment can carry. (Unless that life-altering event was death, which doesn't leave time for much reflection.) Still, no matter how many of these events occur in your lifetime, or the impact they have on your life, they don't improve your ability to predict what may be around the bend. As time passes, I cherish each moment like this, whether good or bad, and the impact it's had. Since I can’t do anything about them anyway, I’ve tried to make the best of them.
I’ve recently started suffering from a problem, though. It’s not a fear that I may not be able to deal with what’s next, despite the fact that next year holds a plethora of challenges for me, including (but not limited to):
1. a permanent move to New York City,
2. the New York bar exam,
3. a new profession,
4. the search for a new guitarist for my band,
5. the continued struggle to be the man I’ve always wanted to be,
6. as well as the struggle to be the man that my beautiful, sweet girlfriend needs me to be.
As far as the challenges go, I think that I’ve gotten really good rolling with the punches as well as embracing the surprises. The problem is, I’m losing the ability to deal with the aforementioned “long stretches of idleness” in between my illustrious moments. When things flow relatively simply for a long period of time, my sanity starts to wilt. I get restless, and try to make something happen. However, the truly astounding moments of life are unsolicited. Much like the watched pot that never boils, many of the most influencing moments of life transpire spontaneously. Trying to force the issue usually results in disappointment, or at minimum, an outcome slightly different than what you would have envisioned. Fate will not respond to coercion. The next huge event will not be of my choosing, and will be neither rushed nor slowed. The more I am able to control my destiny via career choices, choices in friends, or choices in what I do with my free time, I’ll never be able to get a total grasp on what destiny holds for me. As I increase my ability to manage my future, I remain, to some extent, powerless.
Perhaps this is a naïve concept. However, after struggling for 27 years to get control of my future, I’ve suddenly realized that control is ever-elusive.
Damn. I think I’ve just experienced another one of those moments. And I was hoping for a record deal…
A practicing attorney and semi-professional musician, Walker writes for his own amusement, for the sake of opinion, to garner a couple of laughs, and to perhaps provoke a question or two, but otherwise, he doesn't think it'll amount to much.
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1.11.02 @ 1:45p
Jeff, I know what you mean about those long idle stretches of life driving you crazy. You feel like you're missing out on something. And I tend to find that shaking things up just for the sake of shaking things up is never quite satisfying enough.
I'd hope my life would look like a good long-term blue chip stock graph - a bunch of little ups and downs, but all in all, heading upward at a nice 30 degree angle.
1.11.02 @ 2:23p
Isn't Fate a woman?
1.11.02 @ 2:43p
She's three of 'em. Atropos, Clotho, and Lachesis.
If you wanna be classical about it.
1.11.02 @ 2:49p
Someone's been reading Piers Anthony.
1.11.02 @ 2:50p
Holy shit you just made my day, Adam! PIERS ANTHONY! Incarnations of Immortality is damn good for when you're a junior high student. Wow. Boy did you hit the nail on the head!
1.11.02 @ 2:58p
Yeah. I think I read that entire series between 7th and 8th grades.
1.11.02 @ 3:02p
I read like 30 of his books during those two years. Xanth, the Juxtaposition one, the Immortality one...I think I might even mention that in my "Know Thyself" column. I dove in, sucked it all up, and dropped him like a bad habit all in the blink of an eye.
1.11.02 @ 3:41p
Um, no, someone hasn't been reading Piers Anthony, someone's been reading Edith Hamilton, Ovid, Aeschylus, Euripides, and The Biographical Dictionary of Women of Classical Mythology by somebody I forget.
That said, I did enjoy A Tangled Skein, On a Pale Horse, and everything else in the Incarnations series.
Crap. Revealed myself as a D&D-type middle schooler again.
1.11.02 @ 3:44p
For a second there, the holier-than-though vibe emanating from you was making me gag.
1.11.02 @ 3:58p
Yeah, me, too.
I think I also read Anthony's "adult" Space Tyrant series.
Actually, he wrote a book of short stories that have got to be some of the most graphically disgusting things I've ever read. Impressively non-innocuous.
1.11.02 @ 4:02p
I read the Space Tyrant series too. Jesus. "Adult," yeah, threw in some sex scenes. He also wrote some erotic novel too, if I remember correctly. Never read that one.
Just realized I've used "though" instead of "thou" and "through" instead of "throw" today. Whoops.
1.11.02 @ 4:08p
Well, while I loved his stuff at the time, it wasn't exactly high-fiction, even for Sci-Fi. But the stuff in "Anthonology" was pretty edgy.
1.11.02 @ 4:26p
No, his stuff was decidedly...simple, though well-done enough. Good for 7th graders. Maybe I'll check out "Anthonology"...who am I kidding?
1.15.02 @ 4:29p
Based on this discussion I rummaged through my last batch of 10-cent SF paperbacks from a recent book sale, and found Heaven Cent.
Man, it's... good for 7th graders. Lots of talk about the Adult Conspiracy.
1.15.02 @ 4:32p
Holy mackerel! Heaven Cent! I am trying to remember other titles right now...but I can't...Golem's something...Mundania what...
Good for 7th graders is right. Unlike Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, which are good for 8th graders.
1.15.02 @ 5:21p
Oh, easily the best pun that Anthony ever devised: "Crewel Lye: a Caustic Yarn."
Also, I think, the best one of the series, though I think I stopped reading them after, like, number 8 or 9.
Mike - "Golem in the Gears" would be my guess. First one was "A Spell For Chameleon." It's amazing how much I remember about sixth grade considering how little I liked it.
1.15.02 @ 5:50p
Crewel Lye, which I vaguely remember, was good. I liked the fact that everyone had a different magic power in Xanth. It really reaffirmed my own specialness, gowing up in a world so fraught wiuth cynicism, competition and mundaneness, or mundanity (hence Mundania)...I read like 13 of em I think.