Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Putty of Youth Keeps Long at 23

My last night home I suffered from a severe case of insomnia, relishing my final moments with my family and the only night I got to sleep in my childhood bedroom. I pulled an old photo album from high school, looking at the smiling faces from school dances, grinning at the evidence failed cosmetology experiments I'd subjected myself to and the evolution of who I am today. Next to the photo albums was a short row of books collecting dust- books I'd been passed throughout the years but never took the time to crack open. It was nearly two in the morning, and I had a full morning preceding my flight back to San Francisco; a late start or grogginess was hardly how I planned to maximize my last day. Longing to be lulled to sleep by the delicate sedative of savory, lighthearted literature, I grasped Eat Pray Love and snuggled beneath my sheets, snapped on my reading lamp and cuddled between Tigger and some of my other plush childhood cronies.

A few pages in, I was astonished that no one had ever recommended I read this book with fervor. How did this book, which I had dismissed as another trite Nicholas Sparks easy, beach read, evade me? Where and how did I contrive this idea? Gilbert's memoir is so akin to all the free-spirited plots flapping about in my head right now, it is uncanny.
"It wasn't so much that I wanted to thoroughly explore the countries themselves; this has been done. It was more that I wanted to thoroughly explore one aspect of myself set against the backdrop of each country."
- Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
{{That. Is. Just. It.}}

As a writer, I'm always trying to find the exact movement of words to perfect the swing of a phrase, but this quote absolutely embodies exactly why I want to go on my South America backpacking trip: South America was just the stage for my monologue. There is a magnetism I feel pulling me to the continent for inexplicable reasons that I can try to rationalize with my fluency in Spanish, but when it comes down to it: I just want to go. The location, to be honest, is seemingly irrelevant to the reason.

Was someone hiding this book from me? (Ahem, Mom?!) But, relax, Mom: although I'm inspired by her full year journey of introspective self discovery, I'm not buying any plane tickets or requesting a leave of absence just yet. Actually, quite the contrary: I'm pleased to realize that she had a full decade on me, had made some life mistakes and still found the way to make this trip happen. It doesn't have to happen right now. It gave me some reassurance that if I do settle for now, the window of opportunity to do this isn't absolute.

The impatience of willing all my dreams into immediate fruition I blame on two factors:

1. I am 23
I am 23

1. I am 23: My whole entire life has been subject to rapid technology changes, upgrades and the Internet. I've always needed something yesterday. Learning that life doesn't move at the speed of light (and that real time has additional set backs and road blocks) was not the transfer of information I had reckoned as my college graduation date encroached. I had predicted having to tune up my skills to perform at warp speed. Waiting wasn't what I had planned or been accustomed to.

2. I am 23: I am young and ambitious: a deadly combination. My haste isn't representative of a complete disconnect from reality, I just really believe in myself. I, historically, have gone after and achieved everything I've wanted because I've been dedicated, passionate and worked my tail off. I still am under the impression, despite some recent set backs, that this career thing is still putty that I can mold and sculpt, that my diligence and persistence will yield something.

But, thankfully, Gilbert has allotted me the piece of mind that I still have time. Even though my worst fear is regret, I do have some time before I have to start looking back forlorn for not capitalizing on the opportunity of youth.

I am {only} 23.

1 comment:

Ellen said...

Gilbert's journey was paid for by her publisher..ahem....