The Year That Changed Everything
When I was young, just a boy really, perhaps eight, someone gave me some words of wisdom.
“As you travel on your journey, occasionally you must pause and look back. Sometimes the best view is behind you.”
That fortune cookie of knowledge stuck with me, not for its profound meaning, but because having something to quote made me feel older, somehow smarter. It wasn’t until many years later that I began to consider the meaning behind the simple words.
When I thought about it as a young adult, an eighteen year old, I interpreted it to mean: “As you age, you must remember your past actions, remember who you were, in order to become who you want to be.” But, by my mid-twenties I wondered if its true meaning was: “Your life, your persona, is not only what you are, but what you used to be.” Sayings are funny, though. Many of the “words of wisdom” we pass onto others probably have no history at all. Maybe the sentence I incorporated into my life, quoted many times, started out as simply – “Wow, check out that sunset behind us.”
I remember - as I transitioned into an adult and traveled through the emotional peaks and valleys of my teenage years - trying to make the right decisions. The choices I made, however, the ones that would define my life, were not always the right ones. My choices were sometimes tainted by my desperate attempt to fit in or to be accepted. I became the person others expected me to be rather than who I really was. I portrayed the qualities society taught me, instead of the qualities I actually had. To truly understand the choices I made, I needed to pause and look back at that point in my life. I need to look at how the influences of society and my peers affected my decisions (see, without even meaning to, I’m still quoting my words of wisdom).
So much has happened. So much has changed, how could it be put it into words? How could words ever express true feelings? What combination of letters could convey love, desire, pain?
Maybe if I were a master of words. Maybe then, I could begin, maybe then I could transfer feelings, emotions on to these pages. But I am not a master of words. I do not possess that magical gift. I do not know how to write words or structure sentences to truly express the variations of love. How could a sentence express the complete and utter sorrow of loss? How could the flatness of paper ever convey the surge of passion or the severe depression of rejection? How could the black letters on the white paper ever express the glorious colors of life or the complete darkness of death? I cannot do it. I am not capable of such things. However, I must try, I have an obligation. A promise once made must be fulfilled. I have to start. I have to try to find the courage to begin. But where did it start? When did it begin?