August 25, 2008

There is No Handbook for Life

Someone once told me that if more than a couple of person say that you are a jackass you should turn around and look for a tail and hooves. Not the most profound introduction, but I liked it better than saying people want to know why my posts are so depressing.

Well folks, not all of my posts are depressing, but they aren't all uplifting either. This joint is what I like to view as my refuge. It is not quite my Fortress of solitude, at least I hope not. Because if it is a Fortress of Solitude I have to talk to the guards because they are doing a lousy job of keeping people out.

Life has its moments. Some of them are happy, some are sad and some are somewhere in between. Now if you know me well than you know that any time I say that life has its moments is code for things are not what I'd like them to be. But that is not indicative that I am in need of a gallon of Prozac. It doesn't mean that I am evaluating razors and nooses.

The funny thing about life is that as a kid you have this idea that your parents and other grownups know how everything is done, or at least I did. I always had this idea that no matter what happened they knew what to do. It wasn't until I got much older that I realized just how wrong I was.

There is no handbook for life. There is no Fodors guide that you can use to guide you through the rough spots. There is no map that you can use, Ponce De Leon's Fountain of Youth is still shrouded in the mist. You will get older, you will age and eventually you will die.

Now some of my friends will argue that there are various philosophies that provide the map and structure that I claim is nonexistent, but they are missing my argument, or maybe I am doing a poor job of expressing it.

I compose here at the computer so maybe some of these ideas aren't as well developed as they could or should be. This post is really about some of my thoughts about trying to live our dreams and how to get the most out of life.

My best friend and I were talking about what we anticipate will happen in the future. We debated back and forth about this and that and never really did come to a conclusion, at least not one that I found to be satisfactory.

Side note, I just nuked three paragraphs that I thought were really good, but they just didn't flow right so they got to meet the delete button.

The thing about the future is that it is exceptionally hard to predict what will happen with any real degree of certainty. If you would have asked the 25 year-old Jack what would happen to him in 2008 he couldn't possibly have imagined this. I never would have come up with a scenario that fits my current life.

Even if you would have asked him to predict where things would be at in five years he would have fallen short. BTW, it feels strange to talk about myself in the third person. I never felt comfortable with that expression, whatever happened to the second person.

So when I look out upon the landscape and try to imagine what will happen I have to admit that my thoughts are based upon educated guesses, best efforts, hope and desire. I think and suspect that if I do certain things the end result will yield a positive experience. Which is just a sterile way of saying that as I try to live my dreams I hope and pray that they come true.

My life is not what I expected it to be. I don't have a problem saying it. I don't like admitting it, because it feels a bit like admitting failure. But at the same time I see the end goal and more than one path to reach it.

So while I can't rely upon the comfort of strolling down a pre-existing path I can take pleasure in the journey. I can accept that at times bristles and burrs will find their way into my shoes and that I'll suffer through a few blisters. I don't like it. I wish that it was simpler, but...

OTOH, since I have a knack for taking the long way home I have noticed a certain appreciation and satisfaction in these accomplishments. The success of past struggles provides the confidence and belief in future success.

I think that it is time to end this post as it is far too hokey. Matter of fact I may just delete it. I'll take another look in the morning.


Gila said...

If you had asked the 25 year old Gila (then Jennifer) what she would be doing now....

I cannot remember exactly what I expected, but I am pretty sure it did not include being nearly 38 and single.

Watershed, by Indigo Girls, is a good song to listen to when thinking about such matters. (


ilanadavita said...

Interesting. I (at 44) am certainly very different from what I would have envisaged 20 years ago. I have mixed feelings about this.

EndOfWorld said...

Is this the answer to the "do you live your dream" post?

Jack said...


Life has a way of throwing curveballs, now doesn't it.


Mixed feelings is a good description


I don't know.