I’ve been in this weird in-between state lately where I just don’t have things figured out. A lot has changed—is changing, is going to change—and I simply don’t know what to think of any of it. It’s frustrating, to say the least, and it makes it really difficult to write (note: what is “it” here, I’m not even sure), if only because I just cannot make myself decide on any one thing or another. I hate to admit that because I feel like I’m just making excuses for not writing and that’s just fucking lame, but too many thoughts can easily wish-wash their way into being no thoughts at all. No steadfast thoughts, no steadfast opinions, no decided point of view. And that feels weak to me.
A few weeks ago, I was talking to a few other young adults about how scary it is that any progress made during adulthood is dependent entirely on your own sense of initiative. Nobody is around to tell you to do shit, let alone to tell you any of the right answers. While I don’t think I have so much trouble with convincing myself to do shit, I do go a little bit crazy trying to figure out what the best option is in any given situation. “What’s the best course of action for optimizing the rest of your life?” Honestly, I don’t fucking know.
So, instead, life just ends up feeling like an infinite series of multiple-choice questions, none for which you can clearly discern the right answer. Instead, either all the options look terrible or all the options look like they could work, which ends up being just as terrible because you have no idea what to choose. But you scribble something in and then you keep going. And sometimes you pick the right answer, and sometimes you pick the really wrong answer, and sometimes you pick the answer that’s like “eh, you’re not terrible but you’re also not great.” Or, of course, you can be that person who skips a question with the promise to come back to it, but before you know it, you’ve skipped all the questions and you’re completely lost and you’ve ended up doing absolutely nothing with your life. Inspiring, isn’t it?
No, it’s not always inspiring, but it is exciting I suppose. I was walking through the MOMA in New York City the other day (how lucky I am to be there so nonchalantly, right?) and all these people were bustling around me trying to soak in all the art pinned up on the walls around them while they still could—while they had enough time on the weekend to squeeze in something beautiful. I, myself, was just carving out some time to explore by myself, as I was truly in New York for a work trip. And in walking through one area lit well with sunshine bouncing off the light wooden floors, this feeling just hit me: an overwhelming mixture of calm, gratitude, urgency, and anxiety.
Calm, because look where you’ve gotten. You’re walking through the MOMA, completely content and surrounded by beautiful things, and everything is going to be okay. You’ve got family and friends and the boyfriend you love and a good job, and everything that everyone asks for, and you’re walking through NYC on a Friday morning, completely at ease—a smile has necessarily become your resting face.
Gratitude, because look at how lucky you are. How blessed. How everyone might want to get a bagel and an iced coffee and walk through museums for the rest of their lives, and how they might never get the chance to, and you’re doing it right now and you are so happy and, if you could, you’d give that to everyone.
Urgency, because quick, take it all in. You’ve got a few more hours in New York and only a few more decades in the world and look how much absolute beauty is here, just within these walls—imagine all you’ve got to explore. Properly appreciating beauty and love and art is the most enjoyable and simultaneously impossible obligation you’ll ever have.
Anxiety, because you know how fleeting these things can be. How downright terrifying it is to be charged with the responsibility of your own life; to be charged with the responsibility of living it well. How desperately you want to ensure that you go on loving and feeling loved by yourself, by other people, by Warhol and Pollock paintings on walls. You’re living this moment right, but that’s never the end—you’ve got to go forward and try your best to live all the rest of your moments right as well. So, go.