Jan 8, 2006

I'm Gumbi, damn it!

While thinking earlier about why most of my closest friends happen to be in their teens, it suddenly dawned on me that I have always been five or six years behind in life. I cannot deny that I am a "late bloomer" in so many things, and my official recorded age really does seem to be quite a few years ahead of... myself, or at least the pace I have inherently preferred to take my entire life. I certainly don't feel 23; I feel five years younger, and am usually inclined to behave that way. I wish I could call myself a "teenager" again. I realise now that for most of my teenage years, I felt like a small, sheepish child, and as I (all too rapidly) approach my mid-20's, feel more and more like a teenager, or at least how I imagine someone in their teens should feel. Is this peculiar or what?

I didn't get my first real job or have my first real "date" until I was 18. More amazingly, I didn't make a real human friend until I was in my late teens. 12, 13, 14, 15... those were all rather strange, awkward years I have a strong inclination to go back and "redo." I will not say they were wasted years, since each constitute a large building block in the construction of everything I have become today, but they were not pleasant, and simply not... memorable. I sincerely cannot remember any defining moments of my life from 12, 13, or 15. 14 was the undisputed champion year of uncontrollable suicidal angst, so at least I was playing my part as a teen in some fashion. Still, for as much as I remember, I may as well have just skipped from being 11 years old to being 16 years old. Maybe that is what happened to me!

I would love to turn a dial back five years and become 18 again, somehow managing to simultaneously. retain all the life experiences and lessons I have learned since I actually was 18. The reasoning for this is simple. Higher expectations are placed on those who are in their 20's. I am expected to have "grown up" by now. **Spins finger** There is nothing like reading all these success stories about 20-something year olds who become successful multi-millionaires. I apologise, but I do not ever see myself bothering to get savvy enough with cleverly manipulating real world opportunities to achieve such a status. I just want to get a job or career that effectively utilises a few of my talents and better qualities and supports a comfortable lifestyle and keeps me reasonably happy. I think I simply want to revert to an age where much less expectation is placed upon me. Life moves too fast for comfort. If you're still in your teens, realise the magic of it while it's there. Enjoy it, enjoy the hell out of it while you still can.

In contrast to many difficult, convoluted things I often ponder, I very easily came to the conclusion of why so many of my friends are a few years younger than I am. I am still a teenager at heart, and tend to identify with people that age much more easily. So many people out there are just... too serious, too rigid, too focused on serving society and making themselves work, work, work without taking time out for fun. I reserve plenty of time for fun and enjoyment, and I could not imagine living any other way. Especially in paradise, where the weather is warm year round and the outdoors is always beautiful and inviting.

There is one implication, however, I have not been able to drive out of my mind since conjuring up all this logic. How playful will my spirit be five years down the road? Will I still be a teenager at heart or much more closely resemble a 23 year-old career-oriented college graduate who is more inclined to work his ass off for the benefit of mankind than have any fun? With life, one can never tell.

And it's whenever I begin to feel useless or guilty of so often being counted as part of the human population that I simply go out and pick up a few bags worth of litter. It's the least I can do for Mother Nature, she who has nurtured me and my spirit so selflessly all of my life. With every disgusting empty beer can I pick up in the woods and carry out with me, I am converting another's act of apathy into my own concern for the benefit of the environment, and this is deeply gratifying. In spite of what those who have witnessed the brunt of my cynical side may think, I do search for every excuse to have faith in humanity. Such excuses are just very hard to find sometimes. When I do, however, it's a blast of fresh air... a burst of inspiration and encouragement to continue doing what I do and being who I am.

It does involve disappointments. Only a couple days ago, I was wandering along the scenic road out of Onomea and noticed a Bud Lite can laying on the ground next to a stream. Along the way to transporting it back to my car, I encountered a few empty glass bottles lying on the ground, so I attempted to carry as many of those as I could in one trip as well. Just before I returned to the road side, my eyes noticed an entire... miniature dump of empty beer cans half buried amongst a ledge. It was then that a very bitter feeling of disappointment washed over me and my initial impulse was to simply drop my armful of revolting trash out of utter hopelessness. I didn't, though. That would have made me feel even guiltier. I spent the next half hour cleaning up as many cans and other little pieces of trash from below the road until it became too dark to see. By the time I was done, I smelt strongly of damp earth and old, spoiled beer. I didn't really care, though.

I cannot speak for anyone else, but I can speak for myself. I inherently mean to do good. I want to help improve the world for all species in whichever ways I possibly can. This involves cleaning up the environment, inventing new solutions, and helping people through their problems. It can be very discouraging, though, to observe daily the apathy and insensitivity of others towards everything and everyone which does not directly affect their well-being. When I think of a hero, I don't think of "America's troops." I think of that old man I always see riding his bicycle along the highway rain or shine, picking up large trash bags of litter entirely on his own volition. It's too bad most of this country's priorities and values differ so vastly from most of my own. Even that isn't going to stop me, though. I bought a button recently that said, "I'm Moving to Canada." I plan to hold on to that button.

Only now, in my early 20's, have I become close friends with people who share my benevolent qualities to a very close degree, and I practically rely on the inspiration they provide as well as their similar acts of goodwill. Oh, the things that can be accomplished through collaborative efforts...

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