The thing about being young is that you’re desperately trying to find the edges inside of the box you were born into. There are no edges, so you make them up. You decide on things that are true about yourself with flippancy. You say, I am this way and this is what I want to be when I grow up and these are the things that matter to me. Then, you imprison yourself into those things. You say, unless my life turns out the way I envisioned when I was young and scared and unaware of my edges, then I will be dissatisfied.
As you grow older, you realize that edges don’t exist and, within that uncovering, you realize the danger of those options. You realize that you can be anyone, you can be beholden to nothing, you owe nothing to anyone, and you are nothing except the person you have deemed yourself to be. Yes, you may have responsibilities that seem very real to you, but in reality, they are not real. You can leave. If you have a life, you can leave it. It probably won’t be the most comfortable decision in your life, but it is a decision, it is a choice. We are not beholden to one thing, especially not the dreams and edges we gave ourselves when we were trying to find footing in a vast and torrential world that demands we define ourselves.
But, this is what happens when you grow older. You realize this. Sure, it dawns on each of us at different times, but that dawning, is both incomprehensibly exhilarating and incomprehensibly terrifying. There is no in-between. It is both at the same time. And we see that we are in these jobs, we are taking this money, we have built this life, that were all choices. And that we constantly have a choice.
Every single day, we are defined by our choices. Nothing else. That is the only part of us that is true on a day to day basis. That which we choose to be in that moment. We can make sweeping declarations about ourselves and define ourselves and cement ourselves in certainty, but it’s fleeting, and most of us will hold on so tight that we don’t have time to look around at our lives. We will clench down on these declarations and certainties and our knuckles will go white from the grasp and we will hold tight, tight, tight until we die. That is how it will go for most of us and I suspect there’s nothing quite wrong about that. There’s nothing quite wrong about anything, frankly.
We live in a world of technicolor and gradients and an indistinguishable amount of gray area. The moment we deem the world in our own black and white terms is the moment that we have cemented ourselves in our own prison. We have taken away our choices, our magic, our opportunity for miracle.
I don’t know what the point here is. Maybe the point is that this is what happens as we age. We are young and brash and so sure about everything. There is a gradual releasing of those assurances as we age. And there comes a moment where we either decide to clench until our knuckles go white or we let go and allow the magic. We allow ourselves to be indefinable. We allow ourselves to be who we are in the moment. We allow ourselves to never again need to declare in certain words who we are, what we do, or what our place in the world is. We simply allow ourselves to be.