My niece's birthday party has been 'raging' upstairs, and instead of participating I've been sitting in my room, beneath the caramel glow of some christmas lights that Soren hung up this Christmas. Why i'm down here instead of upstairs with my family is sort of a mystery to me, and it's been this way during virtually every family party. Humbug.
I've been thinking about invisibility. About the fact that it's not likely that I'll make much of a significant impact on any of my fellow human beings, and the likelihood of me making a significant POSITIVE impact is an even smaller chunk of possibility. I try, hard, but I'm not certain whether I have the energy or charisma to make enough people happy to feel like I've accomplished something worthwhile. It's amazing to me that we, as humans, are so prone to pessimism. It's amazing that I've allowed myself in the past to be so completely swallowed in my troubles that it's blinded me to what I should be doing with my short time here. This isn't a sermon or an overly optimistic barrage, it's just something I've come to realize over the past three months, thanks in no small part to a beautiful friend of mine.
I lived in London (as all of you likely know) for four months beginning last august. It wasn't the easiest time of my life, to be blunt. I walked around the city often, almost every night in fact. Winter nights in London are cold, cold and humid. Leaves lie in gigantic, rotting piles along the edges of Hyde Park, and runners, forced into them by my passing, crunch angrily for a moment and then bound away. Carbon monoxide from bus after bus is trapped by the freezing air, and seems always to find its way to your nose and mouth, whether or not you try to avoid the main roads. Sometimes I would take the subway to replace the multiplicity of noises for the solemn, singular drone of the train. My reflection sat opposite, a warped double of myself, with a bulbous nose or a forehead that stretched nearly to the top of the window depending on how slumped I sat in my seat.
Once I left the station (Most frequently St. Paul's), I was swallowed by a cocktail of varying people, whose lives all mattered just as much as mine, who all passed me with less than a glance, who all would never see me again. Standing in the middle of a crowded London square, steeped in people who would never know my name, may be the most insignificant I've ever felt. And, as humans do, I began to distort my reality to counter my feelings. I began to justify my existence by concluding that this was MY universe, that the universe existed for me and me alone. I became certain that the immensely intricate people around me were all only projections of my own mind. Not one of the least narcissistic moments in my life, I'll admit. But the introspective nature of my course work in addition to the increasing amount of time I was spending alone made it hard to think of anything but myself. And I was unhappy, to say the least.
I flew home on December 11th, 2011 with a fear in my stomach to see my friends again. I was afraid I'd changed; that what they saw in me before was gone and that I'd beaten myself out of my old shell, the shell they loved. Lydia and Niels had come to pick me up from the airport, and within moments of me turning the corner into the baggage claim area, we were dogpiled in the middle of the grimy airport floor. Every ounce of the fear that had absorbed me at climbing off the plane, the fear that made me double back to the bathroom several times just for an excuse to stave off time for a few more seconds, it was all drowned in the love I felt for my two best friends of five years. Both the sunken insignificance I'd felt for three months, and the feeling of existential superiority, disappeared. Good friends, man.
I'm not intending to be dramatic by this, but the next few weeks were incredibly therapeutic, and I was amazed at how quickly I had abandoned my London depression. Despite the horrid, disgusting air and the sudden upsurge in SUV's and flower headbands, I loved coming home. And it was solely thanks to the fact that just for two seconds I forgot about myself and stepped into someone else, something I felt incapable of doing in London.
And I fell in love. Maybe this immediately makes my optimism seem juvenile, but shit, man. I fell in love. And I don't know if I've ever stepped away from myself more than being alone with her. I become invisible again, no longer in a self-centered way but in a self-sacrificing way, which is awesome. I've started to notice people. Whether this is because of how contagious her pursuit of learning about and helping everyone she meets or if these self-sacrificing qualities were inherent in me from the start, it doesn't really matter. I want to help people, to distract myself from everything I feel I'm inadequate at or lacking in by disappearing in someone else's troubles for a while. So, I encourage y'all to do the same, I guess. I'm not anywhere near where I'd like to be, obviously, but I feel like I've accomplished more in the past three months than I had in five years of rampant depression.
Anyways, I didn't intend for this to become a gigantic monologue that probably none of you will read. Damn. Welp, I think I'll go upstairs and sing happy birthday to my niece.