This Too Will Become A Memory

We race through life at a rate of one second per second, constantly picking up momentum as we go. Even if now, this present moment, is the most important time, it often doesn’t feel like it. We are all planning for the future, consulting the manual of experience that is our past, and trying to keep ourselves afloat among the shifting sands of the present.

Memory is unreliable. That song we remember listening to ages ago has inexplicably changed its lyrics, or perhaps even its title. That wonderful date that we remember with perfectly clarity was actually two, perhaps three. And our favorite film as a child has changed its narrative somehow, despite watching it a dozen times. Sometimes it seems all that is left are fragments. Obscure nouns which mark some event in the far-flung past. Blueberry pancakes. Band posters. Picnic baskets. Seagulls on the beach.

Each breath and the moment is gone. This one, stored on a faulty hard drive. The next one, queued up and ready to go.

Furthermore, with age comes wisdom, and wisdom is the result of experience. Experience grows us, but it has a nasty side effect. Each thing we learn lessens the intensity of what precedes it. We’re able to detect patterns and understand consequences to the point where we are eventually just standing beside ourselves, regulating when we can experience recommended doses of joy and sadness. We can no longer live in the moment like we once did because we invariably know approximately where each one will lead.

“Don’t get too excited” is the advice invariably told to us by people older than us, as if they are trying to protect us from the pain that will come with anything, ever. We listen, forgetting that no amount of emotion-guarding will ever save us from heartache, and only blinds us from the overwhelming positivity of life. Or maybe even at a young age we knew we would always be longing for something more.

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The Easy Road to Cynicism, and the Perilous Expedition Getting Back

“The adventure begins,” I thought to myself while sitting on the couch after working hard to get my apartment furnished and in order. One would think I was referring to the idea of being an adult, independent, beginning a new life of being self-supportive. However, in this case, my thoughts were of something else entirely. The adventure was of me completely abandoning my pessimistic ways and completing my metamorphosis into a real idealist. I honestly didn’t think it was possible.

There is a running joke between myself and my fiancee where I, in a self-deprecating manner, call out my own 17-year-old identity whenever he bubbles to the surface. This age was peak cynic for me. Matt the Detractor, Matt the Skeptic, Matt the Pessimist, Matt the True Hipster, Matt the Overthinker.

Matt the Confused.

This is not self-loathing. On the contrary, I understand now that this was an important step in my journey towards being the better person that my creator wants of me, but it doesn’t mean I like myself when my brain goes into fact-checking mode. It is a sign of insecurity in yourself when all you can do is try to prove others wrong using facts and statistics, however true they may be. To do so expresses a kind of high arrogance, an assumption that your methodological way of viewing the world is the only correct one. The surface of rationale, argumentation, and dialectic, however, is cold and hard, and the consequences of such paradigm are two-fold.

First, you’ll find yourself without friends, speaking a language unintelligible by common folk. Or, at least, you hope that to be true, but in the recesses of your mind there exists one other alternative: that all you claim to be is just a collection of fancy words and mindless trivia, and that everyone else is just as smart as you. Second, you’ll find yourself adopting a view of the world that significantly darker than those around you. You’ll begin to pedestalize your own intelligence while reducing the value of the opinions of those around you. Soon, nobody’s discussions about anything seem to make any sense, despite them having existed in the world for as long as you have.

Here you are, you can put it on the map. When you assume that everyone else is either uninformed or stupid, you have arrived safely at Cynicism. There are no humans in Cynicism, only lonely individuals pretending to be gods without actually having the power to back it up. They dole out judgments where none are needed nor appreciated.

Getting to Cynicism is an easy drive on a Sunday afternoon with little traffic to get in the way. The journey back from Cynicism, however, is far more dangerous than that. It’s more like a hike through hot swampland with alligators and venomous snakes. My trip took at least five years, and featured a detour through chronic lower-back nerve pain, a case of Meniere’s  Disease, and experiencing a setback in my dream to teach college.

There on the couch I realized, I’m no longer that person. I have his memories, yes, and the skill of skepticism sure comes in handy while doing academic research, but I’ve been transformed somehow. God, with his actual power, has turned me into a better version of myself.

I suppose I made it official when I changed my name on Facebook from Matt to Matthew. Matthew the Idealist, Matthew the Dreamer, Matthew the Pollyanna, Matthew the Sociable, Matthew the Optimist. I’m glad my dangerous journey has ended, and I’m excited to start my new adventure of actually being human.

So, I must ask. Have you made the same journey I have? Have you been wooed by the lights of Cynicism, only to realize that once there, it was a very dark place? How did you escape? Did you escape? Are you still escaping, or are you headed down the road to Cynicism right now?

Live for Now; Dream for Later

When we’re constantly moving at the speed of sound, we sometimes forget how to stop. But that pausing is necessary in order to exist in the now. When you’re constantly moving through time and the world, the now ceases to exist and all your left with is accomplishing one task after the next until finally exhaustion sets in.

You breathe in, finally, and you realize half your lifetime is gone, and that thought paralyzes you.

For about one day. Continue reading

Slipstream

Looking at the leaves on the trees, they hover and shimmer with rhythmic motion. A constant motion keeps them dancing in place for as long as they live. A constant turbulence vibrates the air, their motion affecting the world in unforeseen ways. Their movement is proof that we are alive. Enough to believe in something bigger than ourself.

Life is wondrous and awe-inspiring. It’s complex, but not not complicated. And I am the master of overthinking things. I am the sovereign only of making things more complicated than they are. Of thinking I’m on to something when I’m really only running in circles. It’s all just a defense mechanism for when I recognize that by myself I am pointless. But by some miracle I am not pointless, and I will never be alone. Continue reading

Just a Series of Blurs

The time is now. Now is the time. It’s the time that I sit here in a computer lab, but instead of using the big computer, I’m actually using a smaller computer for no good reason other than the mouse only working about once every three clicks. I have a Nintendo 3DS to my right and a phone to my left. I have my laptop propped up on three books because, my gosh, my neck is in flaming pain from being up all night typing a paper. And I type this blog post on the 24th of September, 2015. A Thursday. It was a miserable mix of clouds and rain. And this is a moment I will never remember again. Continue reading

Standing on the Edge of Something

Explaining the unexplainable. Putting words to things that exist beyond language. The mad ramblings of a man trying hard to understand the essence of his life. It may not make much sense, but it is how I search for truth. Blood flows through my veins, and air flows through my lungs, but life’s underlying truths are often shielded in mystery. Continue reading

Forgotten Oblivion

It’s a beautiful day, honestly. Barely a cloud in the sky, and it can’t be hotter than eighty degrees out here. The trees are beginning to change colors, signaling the inevitable transition to autumn. Climbing up the tallest hill, the woods open up and I see the structure in the distance. It looks perfectly innocuous, perhaps even pretty, nestled into the farther tree line. But I know that it’s anything but the walk in the meadow that leads up to it. Continue reading