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Keeping On

I don’t want to wait anymore I’m tired of looking for answers
Take me some place where there’s music and there’s laughter
I don’t know if I’m scared of dying but I’m scared of living too fast, too slow
Regret, remorse, hold on, oh no I’ve got to go
There’s no starting over, no new beginnings, time races on
And you’ve just gotta keep on keeping on

— First Aid Kit, My Silver Lining

At a work event this week I looked around the room at the characters in the play. I’ve known them all so long, and yet only know a few of them very well. Some of the older characters talk of retirement and moving on, some of the younger characters openly plot their next move. I don’t play either of those parts, yet I’m still in the game.

Building something tangible in our lives is really nothing more than showing up every day and being an active player. Life is humbling and teaches us we can’t have it all, and some will have more than perhaps they deserve. There are things we simply can’t control in this world, yet so much we can influence when we apply energy and focus on what matters most.

We know when we’re running hard. When we’re pushing ourselves into new places. And we know when we ease off more than we should. Life is this balance, lived on the tightrope of commitments and aspiration while the winds of change swirl around us. Putting one foot in front of the other is really the only way forward. Still, we must ask ourselves, are we moving in the right direction? When should we follow another line?

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  1. I don’t think any of that matters. I don’t think the idea of “the right direction” matters at all. I believe that as long as you wake up every day realizing that you’re alive, you win. We’re already winners, so the direction we’re heading in doesn’t matter. What makes one direction right and another wrong? I often think about very close friends or even romantic partners who have left me. Knowing that I am a great person to have in one’s life (this is not me being egotistic—I’m a heck of a person), in the past I used to think that the people who’ve walked out of my life, or caused me to walk out of the relationship, made a grave mistake that may change the course of their life for the worst. But did they though? Why am I so significant? What if I was the one who ruined my life by losing the relationship? Thinking like that is a one dimensional way of thinking, but that achieves nothing but blindness and pain because life and nature are multidimensional.

    Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about the idea of “meant to be” or any vague idea of what is set-in-stone in the future. A few months ago, an acquaintance and I were having a conversation about soulmates. We’re generally taught to believe that everyone has one soulmate who is their perfect partner (usually love partner). I’ve always thought that that idea was bullshit. Therefore, upon that predisposition, I fell into an argument with her. She said something that stopped me dead in my tracks. She said that she doesn’t believe each person has only one soulmate (because duuhhh that wouldn’t be fair—what if my soulmate is a Vietnam native but Vietnamese is a language that never interested me?) She believes that we have multiple soulmates—multiple ways to be happy; multiple directions to move in. So if you never cross paths with this one, then there are more where that came from, but maybe I should learn Vietnamese first. Anyways, that questions the idea of a “right direction”, right? This idea of right or wrong and people having unique paths in life is limiting and inapplicable to humans.

    I am a 26 years-old-kid who was born in Haiti, pays state taxes to New York, and I am currently writing this comment in a beautiful Airbnb in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I haven’t lived in neither NY nor Haiti in years. I went to university for Mechanical Engineering, but due to a medical issue I faced in my Junior year of high school that still impacts my life today I was not able to take on the engineering beast. So I switched my major, but I still help my nieces and nephews with their math/science homework, I still put things together and fix things around the house like I know the cheat code to any construction. I’ve sat with a successful lawyer for lunch and throughout our conversation, he just kept on repeating that I should go to law school because I would be a great lawyer. Many lawyers have told me that (I might do so when I’m 40 hehe). Last year, I quit my full-time job and left my apartment behind to start traveling. I work small jobs and travel around the world—so unfortunately most things in my life are temporary, including relationships. Finally, I also write and want to make a future out of that.

    With all these things being my reality, how will someone like me process the idea of there being a “right direction”? I literally wake up every day and listen to the wind, follow it if I feel like it. I’m so happy and at peace. The best time to follow another line is now. But the better thing to do is follow all the lines you want, or none at all. Be free and honest with yourself.

    1. There’s surely something special about freedom and flexibility, but also nothing wrong with picking a direction and seeing where it leads you. Sometimes direction is a job or a relationship, sometimes it’s having neither of these things. When I was 26 I felt the same way you do, now I follow a different direction and celebrate different things. I imagine it will change again before too long. That’s life. Whatever you choose, it inevitably will change you. That change will in turn prompt a turn in yet another direction you may not fully realize. We’re all the same in this respect, pivoting as our lives and priorities change. A direction isn’t a straight line, after all, but a compass heading we refer to now and again when we feel we’re off course. Whatever your course is, I wish you a great journey.

      1. Wow, this was incredible. Thank you for this. You spoke with a lot of wisdom in your voice and I tremendously appreciate that. Thank you immensely!

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