Screw the Frostian “Two Roads” Imagery…

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Not sure where this one came from/is going to. Also, pics are random; more to come.

August has been a month of alternating extremes: at school, days of intense workaholism and days of utter boredom; in life, periods of intense responsibility and of carefree relaxedness; times of complete emotional involvement and of utter detachment; pressures of family life and friends’ troubles and occasionally those gently perturbable periods of aloneness. For some reason, my senses and emotions seem to have been heightened to fever pitch (or at least a feverish sensitivity) this month, to the point where I feel and experience and think and see my life (and the living world that surrounds me) much more clearly and deeply and personally than before.

After this, my first (and possibly/hopefully last) office-based summer, I find myself somewhat between places and times. In a stable, comfortable, moderately fulfilling job, I dream of more. In a city of extremes, people of all socioeconomic classes living squeezed together onto the same shaky wedge of earth, obsessed with the idea (if not the practice) of nonconformity for its own sake, yet pressures to standardize and conform and button-up rapidly closing in on all sides; and with it, a populace whose self-satisfaction and entitlement has developed into an almost comatose stupor of lockstep, automatonic joy, I look around and wonder where I’ve found myself. What goals and dreams do I have, and how will I actualize them?

I often say that I don’t plan very far ahead when thinking about my own life (as opposed to planning trips/organizing details for others, where I generally plan well in advance – as required in my current job!). And while I do have thoughts about where I’d like to be and what I’d like to be doing in the future, I also like to leave things as open as possible. One of my greatest fears is of closing myself out of possibilities and opportunities before they even open or exist (or at least before I am aware of them). This has lent itself to a certain fluidity in thinking about life paths, as well as the reasons I value a place and a position and any given life situation.

The one wildcard, though, is people. Here in the alternately ballyhooed and vaunted Bay Area, a place whose adulators and detractors have transformed from reality into the stuff of myth, I have found myself a community of amazing people: friends from China, college buddies, new acquaintances, and an outstandingly caring (if sometimes-too-friendly-to-strangers) partner. This, for the moment, is what keeps me here. Are my desires to move onward and stay put diametrically opposed? Not at all – the web of people and places and lives is ever-changing, flowing and disconnecting and reconnecting and dissolving and joining, molding and merging and developing in the most fantastically random and unexpected ways.

In unhippyish terms: I have no idea where I’ll be in the future. But wherever I end up, it’s not (as my friends and family have often suggested, especially while I was in China), a binary decision between “people” and “place,” or between “work” and “personal life” or “fulfilling others” and “fulfilling self.” In this world, increasingly interconnected to the point of frequent anachronistic (or dissynchronistic) absurdity, things are way too knotty and twisted to follow one of Frost’s two roads. Rather to plunge into the thick New Englandy woods in between them, diving and twisting through branches, shrubbery smacking you in the face, occasionally turning ankles on unseen roots and thrashing and diving through the dark unseen, glancing up during occasional lucky moments for a glimpse of light – to take this whole mess head-on, as it comes at you, and to see where you come out on the other side.

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