I began studying martial arts when I was seventeen, but because I’ve never been able to settle with a particular style and because I’ve spent far more time outside of practice than in, I’ve managed to avoid the burden of having any real skills. So, after seventeen years, instead of having the build and bearing of a fighter, I have a continuing passing interest.
I don’t even know when I began hiking, but my history there is also pretty spotty. It wouldn’t take long to name all of the hills I’ve climbed. It also wouldn’t take long to realize that the seasons where I didn’t do anything vastly outnumber those where I have. There’s a blind guy I graduated with who scaled Everest in Nepal. I’ve not even come close to managing the Presidentials in NH.
I took my first ceramics class was when I was nineteen. I knew it was something special, but I left it off for inexplicable reasons. It may have been my being freaked out by the grading process or it may have been remnants of maternal guilt over not studying something practical as an undergrad.
Biking? I had an intense season and then went all wonky. There have been periodic attempts to get on the road again, but these have tended to be short lived. Canoeing, another holdover from high school, has suffered the same fate.
It took me ten years to finish off the missing six credits for my BA. I have no clear memory of what happened in that decade. I do know that I was terrified to move away from this city and that I effectively hamstrung any progress I could have made while I was waiting for something to happen. I did not become an academic. I did not otherwise find a career. Last night I listened with great interest as Sam discussed a friend who is now working for the UN. In China. Promoting AIDS awareness. If I could have gotten my act together here and pursued an MPH, that could have been me. Could have been… great words, those.
And all of this is just the beginning.
The weird thing is that the cacophony tends to drown itself out if I let it. For me, depression comes not as a result of reflection, but when that reflection is lost within itself, when it becomes the test pattern sound that is the backdrop to all that I do and think. It is the difference between feeling grief and loss and simply internalizing it. In the one case, I am aware, active, and capable of change. In the other, I internalize my failures and begin to believe that it is a natural state of being.