Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Waiting Time

Lately, I've been going back and typing up some old journals and adding them as posts here.  I've got a couple from my first experience living outside the U.S. on a semester abroad in Belgium when I was a junior in college (fall of 2004, if you're looking for the posts).  It took quite a while to click back enough months to put them in their right chronological place in the blog...kind of like watching life fly by.  It'll be eight years this year since that trip. 

I guess everybody struggles sometimes with time passing by.  I'll be twenty-eight this year; sometime I feel near panic at how fast time goes.  There's so much I want to do in life; I want to marry, have children, write, travel, live...and the biological clock is ticking louder and louder insinuating that I had better hurry, I'll run out of time, it'll be too late...

And here I am, living with my parents, working a job that I know is just a time-filler and that, though I once enjoyed, is becoming more and more grating.  I'm in the same place as I was when I was twenty, before and after that grand adventure of being an inexperienced college student thinking I was a great world traveller sitting in coffee shops in western Europe, drinking hot chocolate because I don't even like coffee.  Depression seems to close in sometimes; it has for the past few days; feeling shame at not being on my own, at not having accomplished more, at loosing myself in stories instead of living my own--but i know it's lying.  Yes, I'm in a boring point in my life, but it's only a stop.  I haven't built a great career or started a family or earned more degrees, but the last few years haven't been wasted.  The work I did in Italy and in China was worth the time spent, and the traveling in between has been more of an education that many college classes. 

I'm in a rut right now, and there has been a lot of wasted time.  And I don't just mean time spent with him; even though it didn't work, the relationship and the time spent in it taught me a lot about myself and what I can and can't give up and compromise.  It would have been nice to have learned those lessons in less time, but life is life and there's no point worrying about it now.  And where I am now, this is not because I'm floundering around looking for direction.  I know my direction, but I need to stay here for now and save money to be able to start on the next adventure.  By August, I should be ready. 

It's only my own lack of self-discipline and caving in to depression that makes this period a waste of time.  I have so much to be doing--I have years of photos I've been looking forward to scrapbooking, stacks of books on my to-read list; I need to be working on my Chinese, and studying the Bible with much more discipline and purpose.  I need to write more; I've wanted to write ever since I knew what letters were, but again it's my own self-discipline that's holding me back.  I need to get back in shape so that I can climb mountains again. I have so much I need to do now, before I'm busy teaching and travelling again and won't have the time.  But it seems like I go through too many period like this weekend of accomplishing very little, because I let the boredom and loneliness settle into a great weight around me. 

The last couple of weeks, I've drowned myself in the Harry Potter series.  I'd never read the books before, and I'd seen only one of the movies.  I always thought it sounded like the sort of thing I'd like, but when all my friends were reading them in high school and college, I didn't want to read them because they were too trendy--I, as the cultured English major, didn't want to be reading something just because of the sensationalism around it.  I'd wait and see if they stuck around awhile.  (However, I don't think I'll ever get around to Twilight, no matter how long they stick around.  I value my brain cells).  Of course, once I started reading the Harry Potter books, I couldn't stop.  I read during my lunch breaks, and for a couple of hours every night, and read the entire series in about a week and a half.  Then, I watched all the movies.  I've watched the last two probably three or four time each.  I don't know why this blinding obsession, but I had a hard time focusing on anything else.  This weekend, though, it felt like I was stuck in the foreboding, stress, and uncertainty of the search for the horcruxes; the scene stuck in my head was the one where Harry and Hermione dance in the tent, trying to break a little of the unbearable tension of their lives.  I've watched the last movie twice and read the last half of book seven again to get myself past it.  Weird how a fictional world can pull you in, but I guess I'm particularly vulnerable to getting lost in a fictional world right now as my real life isn't particularly interesting. 

However, getting lost in them also just reinforced the bit of panic about time passing by--in the Harry Potter series, it's now much closer to the "nineteen years later" than the original series.  If it were real, Harry and Ginny's kids would now be seven, six, and four.

I've been thinking lately about the epic stories that capture our imaginations--Lord of the Rings, the Harry Potter series, the Narnia series...and in each, it's children or teenagers who have the bravery to change their worlds...Frodo, Harry, the Pevensie children...I haven't read the Hunger Games yet, but my friends are all screaming at me to do so, but from what I know of that, it's the same thing...now, I know the "coming of age" plot is a staple of literature, but for someone closer to thirty and than twenty it's also a bit depressing sometimes.  I know they aren't real, and that real life doesn't go like stories, but I can't help but wonder sometimes if it's not too late; if I wasn't a child prodigy, is there any chance of being a hero now?  Has anyone else ever felt like that, wanting to read about the "Harry Potter" who is a thirty-year-old single woman?  It seems everything written about people my own age is all about sexual relationships that just emphasize the desperation in the continued wait for Prince Charming to come along and finally usher in a beautiful life. 

You know, that was part of why I wasn't happy with him.  He could offer me that--getting married, having children--that's supposed to be the happily ever after, but I wanted more than that; while I do want that, desperately, having children is not the end of my ambition in life.  I want them, but I want them to be raised as part of something bigger than themselves, as part of work that is more than just muddling through day after day.  I didn't want to have to give up adventure and purpose and feeling alive just to have them, for their sakes as much as mine. 

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