I moved to Austin, TX in 2012. It wasn’t a huge move for me having lived an hour down I-35, in San Antonio, for the previous six years. Still, I was excited. I was moving to a new city for a new exciting job. At the nexus of my excitement, however, had nothing to do with Austin or my new job. The “what-if” variable is what really had me pumped for this change. At that point in my life, I needed a stiff kick in the ass. I was in my second semester of Grad school and hating it. I was tired of going through the motions. I was burned out from school and ready for more appealing and challenging real-world experiences.
So, on a whim, I applied for a state job in Austin. Two months later, I was hired. I knew breaking the momentum I had toward attaining my Masters Degree was a risk, but it was one I needed to take. I could feel myself slowly drifting into a place I knew I didn’t want to be a part off; I could sense myself growing weary and complacent–slightly depressed. Quite frankly, I was not happy. So when I was offered the job I was excited beyond measure. Looking back, I realize that it was the potential that’s always attached to change that had me fervently preparing for the move. So, I packed up, with my sixteen year-old persian cat in tow, and made the move.
As it turned out, the move was only an ancillary one. Looking back, I smile because I can still remember how much I thought my life would change. At that very moment I was transformed. And at this very moment I find myself working toward my next transformation. I seem to never be satisfied with who I am.
A few months after moving, I read that the high school filmed in Dazed and Confused was located just down the street from my apartment. Naturally, I geeked out and had to watch the movie (my favorite Linklater film) that very same day. What I appreciate most about this movie is its accurate portrayal of high schoolers reaching a pivotal point in their lives. Life seems to be full of those. The movie focused on future expectations and present choices.
My favorite scene comes when Cynthia, Tony, and Mike are cruising through Austin. Mike announces that he’s questioning his plans to pursue law and working for the ACLU. He mentions that he’s come to the realization that he just doesn’t like the people he thought he wanted to help. He then becomes impatient with them driving aimlessly around town and wants to do something. In fact, at this very moment, he says they should just be up for anything.
Cynthia then says, “I know, we are. But god, don’t you ever feel like everything we do and everything we’ve been taught is just to service the future? What are we preparing ourselves for?” Mike responds with “Death”. To which Cynthia replies, “If we’re all dying anyway, shouldn’t we be enjoying ourselves now? You know, I’d like to quit thinking of the present as some minor insignificant preamble to something else.”
This is the trap I have fallen into. Yes, changing and improving is essential. We all have to do it. It’s how we learn, grow up, and become better people. But I have abused and continue to ignore my present while waiting for the future. I’m caught in a doorway looking out unto what will be, instead of in toward what I already have. What comes will come, but it isn’t my reality. Not yet, anyway. And by constantly being focused on that, I’ve lost a sense of myself. There’s an important quality to life that comes from being present and to understanding that all you ever have is now.