I usually try to imagine my life as a winding road – something like a dirt path in the forest – with plenty of hairpin turns that I don’t see coming. But sometimes, instead of being a scenic path, my life seems more like a six-lane highway through the industrial part of town with bumper-to-bumper traffic and no exits for miles. In these moments – when I see my life stretching straight out before me – I feel like the only place I could ever be happy will always be a million miles away from wherever I am.
The problem is that I’m 26 years old, and I feel like I have to know right now where I’m going for the rest of my life so that I can prepare. I get caught up in planning ahead for the distant future. I worry about a wedding, a mortgage, kids, and retirement when, in reality, I’m not even engaged, I still rent an apartment with scarves for curtains, and I am deathly afraid of human babies.
Maybe I worry too much. But if we don’t give a thought to tomorrow, how will we ever get anywhere? This is the constant struggle I have. I have two sides to my brain: a Hippie and a Pragmatist. The Hippie fears that I’ll spend so much time preparing for the future that I’ll ruin my present. The Pragmatist fears that I’ll spend so much time living in the present that I’ll ruin my future. They will fight over me to the death.
Really, I’m not a Hippie, and I’m not a Pragmatist. I just want the best of both worlds – a happy medium for the Practical Hippie. I want the excitement of the hippie life and the security of the practical life. I want to know I’m going in the right direction and making the right choices, not just wandering along trying to go in five directions at once, completely paralyzed by the fear of making a wrong decision. I want answers.
But I don’t have any. I don’t know if there’s a happy medium. I don’t know if there’s a best of both worlds. I don’t know if I could be happier than I was yesterday, or if I could be happier a million miles away, or if I should try to be happier at all. I don’t know if I’d rather be a Hippie or a Pragmatist. I don’t know if there’s a bend in my road. I don’t know if there’s something else out there. I don’t know if I should save or squander, plan or let go, think or just be. I don’t know if I’m making the right choices. I dont know if happiness is mind over matter. I don’t know if I’ll have kids, and I don’t know if my next trip to Europe will drain their future college fund. I don’t know if I’ll outlive my 401K. I don’t know if I’m making the most of every day, and I don’t even know if I know what that means. I don’t know if I’m following my calling or living my dreams or chasing down my passions. I don’t know if I’m really living or simply existing.
Maybe I’ll never get answers until it’s too late, and maybe I just have to accept that. Maybe perfection is a waste of time. Maybe I’ll pass up a perfectly good life waiting for answers and perfection. Maybe the best of both worlds doesn’t even exist. Maybe I can’t have everything at once, and maybe that’s ok, because everything at once sounds like it could kill a person. Maybe I don’t even have a path.
And so incessantly I wander, just hoping I’m going in the direction of some golden sunset somewhere.