The aroma of coffee and cigarettes stifled our breath under the summer moon as we spewed words concerning the past and future. Where are we going? What could’ve changed? These types of nights are common among my friends and I, the type of nights where we dissect the definition of life trying to find meaning in every letter that forms the complicated simple word. It always ends the same; we respond with “I want to do this…” “I’m going to do this…” and “we should do this…” Our ambition slowly becomes the outline of a last minute bucket list, a list we will eventually get to in our lifetime. I usually never overthink the conversation once we said all we can say for the night, but after this night I started questioning the questions that filled the air. Is it common for a 22-year-old to have mid-life-mid-life crisis? Or have I surrounded myself with people who share the same convections and attitude as I do that change is preventable? Are we just running in circles?
Three years ago I ran away from a place I once called home. Three years later I find myself back in the same house in the same room. I fear that I’m back where I started, but at the same time I feel a bit in the vanguard of maturity. So why am I questioning if I’m content with where I’m at in life? Question after question fills the value of my existence. Are there suppose to be this many questions? Days are wasted on my back trying to solve the enigma that consumes me. The closer I get to an answer the more questions and concerns arise. I’m in a loop that just keeps going and I have no way out of it.
In time of question it is best to turn to your elders for advice. I’ve never been comfortable talking to adults about anything. It’s as if their eyes are constantly piercing through my skin judging everything I say and do. It’s fair to say my friends know me better than my parents. To avoid opening about my life I ask a question regarding their history, and try to find meaning in their story that I can apply to my situation. I decided to turn to my aunt. She is older than my mother, traditional, and is always straight to the point with her dialogue. She rambled about being a kid: going to school, having siblings, and being a brat. She rambled about her adult life: working for the police force, getting married, and having a kid. She rambled about retirement: watching love ones pass away, having grandkids, and the fear that bestows over a person who wishes nothing but the best for her family. “Live life today and plant the seeds for tomorrow,” she said as she concluded the story of her former life, staring at her glass of water as if the images of her past would float to the surface of the liquid. Her words cut deeper than any razor I’ve placed against my skin, cutting both aspiration and fear into my bloodstream. Live life today and plant the seeds for tomorrow. The words echoed through my mind, blocking out whatever else she said after her long pause. Did she know what I was going through or has she been through the same act at my age?
That night, before going to bed, I looked at myself in the mirror and examined my face, analyzing the faint wrinkles that are slowly forming around my eyes and lips. Age is finally catching up to me. At one point I was a young naïve 15-year-old I closed my eyes and woke up as a 22-year-old. I looked at the bags under my eyes surrounded by dark circles caused by questions that keep me up. I need to stop I said. Stop worrying about the past and future and live in the now. Stop worrying about where I’m going or where I should have gone and think about where I’m at now. Life is wasted on too many unanswerable questions that we end up missing out on moments and end up adding to our What If… List. There are a million things I wish I could tell my former self, “don’t do this… and that…” But all that is irrelevant now. There will always be questions without answers and answers without questions. Turning around to look at the past slows us down, and the future is too up ahead to see. To think about both at the same time puts us at a halt but time still proceeds. Time stops for no one. What is sadder than a 22-year-old reminiscing about being 15? A 30-year-old regretting he wasted is 20s reminiscing about being 15.