Doing things differently since 1984

After Everything Changes

Shameless selfie

It dawned on me recently that it will be soon be a year after everything changed for me, both for better and worse in different ways. I’m a firm believer in the idea that “good” or “bad” is only maybe 10% what actually happened, and 90% what you make of it, so I’m going to call this a good year. I’ve learned a lot. Which is funny, because in terms of actual events, not a whole lot has happened. But I thought I’d follow up and write out a bit of what’s happened underneath what’s happened – mostly for my own sake, because, frankly, my memory is terrible.

It strikes me that in what I’d like to consider a pretty young life so far, I’ve actually done and seen quite a lot. I’ve lived in… way too many places. I’ve covered urban, suburban, and rural, including just about every region of the United States, and one particularly awesome region of the UK. I’ve completed two degrees, had what I would consider the most perfect wedding, given birth to two healthy children, seen some truly amazing things, accomplished much, and met many wonderful people.

Yet, for all the places I’ve been, I’ve left pieces of my heart in at least half of them, good friends in most of them, and unrealized dreams in all of them. My brashness had me close to becoming permanently paralyzed, my degrees are little more use than bragging rights, and that perfect wedding did not procure a marriage that lasted. Many of my achievements and experiences that I thought I would bear as trophies, I now bear as scars. I’m 30 and finding myself starting over with a foundation of years of baggage.

I don’t say any of this to brag or complain or say I’m better or worse off than anyone else. It’s just a bit unsettling (or perhaps settling?) to sit back and realize that a life — any life — when you zoom out far enough, is just stuff. Successes, failures, meanderings, experiences, ups and downs… whether we make them happen, or they happen to us unpredictably, in the end they’re little more than the inevitable plot devices of our lives.


I’ve always been the sort to jump readily from dreams and talk, to a step-by-step plan, and then to action, and I’ve been fortunate to have the freedom to see many of these plans come to fruition. Yet, there’s a funny thing about freedom… the freedom to go after one’s dreams also comes with the freedom to see one’s dreams come crashing down, to not be all we thought they’d be, or to find that they bear a price we never knew they would bear.

This isn’t to say that we should just throw our hands up and drift through our lives aimlessly. But I’m coming to accept that I spent too much time focusing on all the stuff of life, and too little time focusing on the one living it. At the end of the day, when all the good stuff and bad stuff cancel each other out, all we’re left with is the people we’ve become, or chosen to be, or striving to be. As it turns out, those are the dreams that actually matter the most.

So, hopefully, I still have lots of life to live, and I’m making new kinds of step-by-step plans now. Not the kinds of plans that center around where I’m going to live, or what experiences I’m going to have, but the kinds of plans that make me the person I want and need to be… strong roots, a tough spine, a heart and conscience as calm as a summer sea, and, you know, me — me, with as little garbage attached as possible.

As it turns out (so far), trying to take control of myself is a bit more rewarding than trying to take control of everything around me – though, interestingly, it’s no easier. Humans are difficult creatures, and I suspect I’m worse than most of them. A good year doesn’t mean all my days have been good. But overall, despite everything, I feel renewed, at peace, and highly optimistic that maybe I can actually do this “life” thing.

I have the utmost gratitude for everyone who has helped and inspired me this past year — some of you know who you are, and others are likely to have no clue. So, you know, for simplicity’s sake, just go ahead and assume you deserve to be thanked.


6 comments on “After Everything Changes

  1. aFrankAngle
    May 18, 2015

    Keep moving forward, my friend … moving forward. Life is (by it’s very nature) filled with ups and downs … and yes, at the end of the day you have yourself and the those around you .. thus a reason why I profess that the most important decision one makes in life is their choice of people to have around them.

    • abtwixt
      May 18, 2015

      Thank you for the encouragement! If the most important decision in our lives is keeping the right people around us, then I have made many mistakes of the worst kind… Thankfully, the world is full of many wonderful people!

      • aFrankAngle
        May 19, 2015

        Haven’t we all … but one must examine the collective.

  2. steverusuk
    May 18, 2015

    I read this post and then, to understand better, the post you wrote a year ago. If I read correctly, something similar happened to me – also “not of my own choosing”.
    I urge you, face the horrendous pain, head on – you clearly do already. The event has become the best thing that ever happened to me, genuinely – I mean in a moral way, in a righteously right way.
    I am not bitter any more. Don’t be bitter (you don’t sound bitter), expend your energy in your children and your other neighbours.
    And keep writing it down.

    • abtwixt
      May 18, 2015

      I’m sorry you had to go through something similar… I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. At the same time, though I don’t know your full situation, I understand what you mean by it ending up being unexpectedly “right”. My struggle is less with bitterness and more with regret, but they both are equally short-sighted and fruitless. Thank you for the encouragement, and I hope you also continue to grow and enjoy life to the fullest.

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This entry was posted on May 13, 2015 by in Autobiographical, Philosophy and tagged , , , , , , .
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