Autumn is for Musing, Part I

This is another short piece, originally written in October 2020. It’s a rambling, questioning search amid the infamous 2020, wondering how it’s possible to grow up and thrive at any time, let alone amid such chaos…

The cooling breeze carries memories of a different fall, a different time, an Indian summer, a time where things were as Light and Bright as the orange and yellow leaves that unfurl like flower petals in the sunshine. It brings back a walk through a gorge for the first time, and a return trip to the same place with those people whom once you would have moved the moon for, and to whom now you barely speak.

I wrote the other day in an email how autumn makes me nostalgic and melancholy, but the full weight of this truth settled onto me only after I wrote it. I dwell upon those times with the same obsessiveness of a crow repeatedly turning and re-turning shiny objects. Somewhere, I suspect this has to do with the lingering fear that I lost the best thing that ever happened to me, that I lost those years, those people, and now all that replaces them is the horror known as “growing up”, of legally having your name on all these shitty documents, of insurance premiums and balance due dates, yet still being looked upon as “child”, as “ignorant” as “naive”,  “too young to understand the world” (it probably doesn’t help that I have a child’s face and a child’s body either). Somewhere, I wonder if I will ever be as happy as I was then, if this newfound feeling of “life-as-eternal-war” will ever slough away from my soul.

 Just as autumn carries nostalgia, it brings forth the winds of the future. While I face new decisions, a time of great personal change, all around me, life, like the trees and seasons, is in flux, changing too. At night, I am kept awake with questions, just as I am sure others are as well. Should I proceed with this move and uproot my life? What will happen to me? I reflect upon this season of choices, this election year of tumult and chaos, a pandemic of uncertainty, and I have even less answers than I did four years ago when I first started writing these essays and asking “why”? It feels like the world has split down the middle, fracturing into shards, and meanwhile the hope for understanding grows ever more dim.

In the midst of all this uncertainty – both personal and global –  I am reminded of that old feeling of being stuck in the middle chapter, suddenly finding myself at a time of in-between, rather than firmly set in a particular chapter.

Once, that chapter was titled Finishing High School, then The College Years (Part 1 and 2),and also How to Move Out and Adult. And now those chapters are behind me, and I’m somewhere in a chapter called What the Fuck Should I Do Now, as I try to balance this Adulting thing that I’m still learning about with my desire to move, to begin anew, to pursue a new vocation that may or may not end poorly for me.

Indeed, Autumn is appropriate, for it is a season of in-between as well, a season of transition. I try not to think about what lies after Autumn: winter, a profound period of cold dormancy, of quiet, of static, all things I dislike but a resting period that is necessary for life nonetheless.

I wonder if I am the only stuck-in-the-middle grownup who feels like this. Some days it feels like I am, and some days I know it can’t be merely me alone. I read the myriads of self-help, self-love, self-care, self-everything’s that pop up when I browse the internet in search of memes, and I ponder whether or not anyone actually believes those things or puts them into practice.

I ask how we can talk openly about self-love and mental health more than during any other period in society, yet I look around and see so many isolated, lonely people, especially in my age range.

Are we all just dealing with the same bullshit? Re-posting a sweet self-affirming quote for social media clout but not believing a word of it? I heard it said that every twenty-something is just a big ball of walking scar tissue until they reach their mid-thirties or so, and even then, two things will happen: they either learn to deal with their wounds, or they learn to hide them better, shoving them further down into their souls.

Amidst all of this insanity, I worry if things can truly change. Can people?

I often wrestle with this concept, even more so than my previous writings depicted. My friends have gone, life taking them all down differing paths. Some of our partings were exceptionally bitter, some of the greatest regrets and mistakes of my life. As for my family, even after everything we weathered together, they still spectacularly shattered after all, bitter conflicts placing me in the middle as both judge and executioner, roles I never wanted.

I have undoubtedly become more jaded, and I sometimes look back at the girl I was then and wonder if I’d rather have her back, and all her stupid naivety, or remain as I am, repeatedly wrestling with the ever-increasing desire to throw my hands up and say “fuck it all.” I often extort others to rise up and live their own lives, rather than fall victim to defeatism, and yet, my own fluctuating mindset reflects this hypocrisy. I preach rising up in the truest eudemonistic sense, yet am sorely tempted to retreat into my shell and surrender. I wonder if I am pathetic, or if more people think like this, yet don’t admit it, if others are stuck in the middle, caught between a desire to grasp everything in life with both hands, or fade away quietly into empty spaces.

In the meantime, I try to find Home where I can. Sometimes Home is literal, my apartment on the good days, when I can rationally know it does not in fact, feel like a cage. Recently, I hung some of those basic white-girl string lights, which twinkle and flash across my classical guitar (the not-so-newfound love of my life) as I play, sitting on my hippie-blanket couch while drilling tremolo. Sometimes Home is sitting in a bar, celebrating a new mutual friend’s birthday on an icy winter’s night, where we play Cards Against Humanity and are clearly the loudest patrons in the building. Even then, I know that they are all second-year graduate students, all on the cusp of receiving their master’s degrees, and they too, will scatter and leave me, but for the moment, that did not matter. I think about all of these Homes, asking myself if they will forever remain scattered, or if they will ever coalesce into one place, someday replacing my own inner turmoil with peace.

Perhaps, out of all, this is one of the bigger questions I am left with: When do we know we are living our stories rather than merely existing inside of them?

I heard it said that life is something that will simply Happen to you, unless you consciously make the choices that will steer and direct it. Or in other words, it’s a river and you are in a raft, and life will carry you in whatever direction you allow it to, unless you take up an oar and begin paddling.

Lately I wonder if I can keep my sanity while existing in a world that, with gale force, tries to tell me how to think, and why I’m wrong for thinking certain things. I wonder if I can go back to the times where every day felt like an adventure, and then I remind myself that I should stop looking to the past, and look instead to creating my future. That maybe, the best is yet to come, even though I often struggle to believe this. It’s my life to live. Sometimes, when I lay awake at night, or drive quietly through a sleepless city, I wonder if I am capable of this. And sometimes, I know I am, that I can shelter from all of these storms with the people I love, while still holding fast to a firm grasp of who I am, discovering each day what I want to do with this wild and precious life.


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I unpack existential topics and ask the questions people are too afraid to ask: What does it mean to Live? Why am I unsatisfied with my life? What is happiness, really? What the fuck is the point?

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